Custom Search

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Kiss with Death

So one of my first sponsored events was my Shark Dive and again, none of this could have been possible without the very generous donation of my sponsor for this activity: Courtney Takai of Remax Honolulu and her family: husband, Ted (Royal Adventure Travel), Victoria (7), Madison (5), Jordan (2), Alexa (15 months) who I must say are the cutest hapa kids! Allow me to give a little background on my benefactor and her beautiful family.

Courtney and I met in the 5th grade when we were both in the same class; we’ve known each other since we were 10 which makes it more than 2/3 of our lives! When we were younger we would always share our dreams together and promised how each would be there for each other at the biggest moments of our lives…in high school, we mostly talked about the day we would get married. Back then, I was not bit by the traveling bug yet and could never imagine my life now. Courtney runs a very successful real estate business and of course I went to her to purchase my very first home. She was with me every step of the way and made sure that what I was getting was the best choice for me. It was actually because of her that I got my place because at the time I made an offer there were 4 other offers put on my home. Courtney wrote a very compelling letter to the owner and somehow it must have resonated with her because out of the 5 hopeful buyers, I (without the highest offer) was chosen. The best part about being her customer? The boundless level of customer service that she takes seriously; the THANK YOU gifts for being her customer don’t hurt either. So if you need to buy or sell a property, be sure to look her up; I’m sure you won’t have a hard time finding her as she has her beautiful picture in the yellow pages! But to make it easier for you: 561-8200.

Since I started this blog, I have received many encouraging emails and comments but I must say Courtney, as busy as she is, has got to be my biggest fan. She constantly sends me messages asking me when the next entry will be up. Ha, no she doesn’t but she does ask when I’m planning to write because she enjoys reading and is appreciative that she can be there with me as I go around the world. Of course with a flourishing business and 4 children age 7 and under, she really has little time for herself so I am extremely grateful that she makes the time and shows interest in what I’m doing.

Thank you Courtney, Ted, Tori, Mady, Jordan and Alexa! My shark dive could not have been possible without you! This blog is dedicated to you!

The shark dive…so I took advantage of my free dorm bed and tried to get to bed early because we needed to meet up at 6:45AM which was a great feat. I would have to wake up early and have to drive there on my own…There were actually 3 others that were going on the shark dive from our backpackers. Conveniently, that night I was put in a 6-bed dorm room but it appeared that there was only one other person in the room. Sure enough, I was sharing the room with one guy, Sasha. Sasha was also going on the shark dive early the next morning so I felt relieved that I wouldn’t be waking up a whole room of people. We ended up staying up to close to midnight talking, I felt like we were having a sleepover!

The next morning, I quickly rolled out of bed and made my way downstairs to make my toast and coffee. One of the nice benefits to driving on your own, I had the car pretty much loaded and ready to go the night before so I literally needed to just brush my teeth, wash my face, and eat! The two others were pretty nervous about doing the shark dive but to be honest for me, it didn’t even faze me. Sasha didn’t understand why I was driving there alone when I could ride with them but I told him that I was told that I would have to pay SAR100 for a shuttle to and from the backpackers to the Shark Dive site. He didn’t think that was the case but regardless, at that point, I had already told them that I was driving on my own and if I were to ride with them, I would have had to make prior arrangements. So I left the group around 6:10AM to make my way down to the site. In hindsight, I should have just waited for them and followed behind them…

It’s winter here now so sunrise isn’t until after 7:30AM! So at 6AM, it’s still pitch black and it is like driving at night! So somehow the night before when the guy was explaining how I would drive to the shark dive, I thought that he told me to drive on the road that I came, in the direction of Cape Town. It’s my fault because I didn’t read the brochure he gave me and just thought that I would eventually see signs. I was told that it was 40km away from Hermanus so after driving for about 40km, I called the lady who had sent me the reminder message the day before. I think I must have awoken her because she didn’t seem to process what I was saying at first. She then told me that I was heading in the wrong direction?! I was convinced that I was going the way the guy told me so I reaffirmed that where I was going was not midway between Cape Town and Hermanus. ‘No, wrong way!’ I was told…so I didn’t see any cars coming and I made a quick whip around.

I continued driving while talking to the Shark Dive lady and she’s trying to explain to me that the shark dive site is not between Hermanus and Cape Town but beyond Hermanus. So as I’m driving, we get disconnected and as I’m driving the people going in the opposite direction are madly honking at me. Why were they honking at me? And so angrily too? You know the kind in a staccato pattern that goes honk-honk-(1 second pause)-honk-honk-honk. So I checked my lights again but as I thought, they were on. So I continued to drive. Within a minute, another car passes me and honks in more or less the same staccato like pattern. Now, I am starting to think that something might be wrong but I’m still not sure what it is. I continue to drive. The lady from the Shark Dive calls me back again to direct me to go back to the backpackers and to wait for the next dive at 9:00AM. But I’m supposed to do the peninsula tour?! So starting at 9AM would have me driving in the dark going home. I tell her that I will just try to drive to the site and hopefully they will still be there and if they’re not then I suppose I will go with the next group but at least I’ll be early....

All of this happened so quickly so maybe the chronology of events are off but just then, I somehow realize that I am driving on the wrong side of the road! I make a remark to the lady on the phone; I must have sounded panicked because I imagine hearing myself as if I’m talking to the 911 operator. Her response was not helpful because she replies to me ‘Oh my God, please don’t get into a car accident!’ This is when it kicks in that the cars were honking at me because I was going against traffic on a one-way! I quickly need to make up my mind and decide whether or not I should turn around and go in the right direction or try to find an opening to get to the other side. Soon after, I notice a red sign with a white minus sign on it, usually meaning ‘No Entry.’ Then I frantically look to the left and I see a blue sign with a white arrow to show the direction of traffic going in the opposite direction on the road below. I quickly swerve over and then I’m on the right side of the road. The lady reminds me to drive safely and that she will let me go so I can concentrate on the driving, good idea.

So, I look back and think about how lucky I was. Seriously. I am soooo lucky. Later when I drove home on these roads (to go back to Cape Town), I saw a few big rigs driving through. I have to be grateful that it was a Sunday and it was so early in the morning. Had it been a weekday, maybe even a Saturday, I’m sure there would have been cars driving in the lane that I had chosen to drive on and they would have come at me head-on. The speed limit here is usually about 80 mph but many cars go faster than that because the roads are not crowded. I also think about how early it was and that if it were any later, surely there would have been more cars on the road. Then again, I think if it were later and the sun was already out, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have made that mistake as I would have been able to see the signs and realize that it was a one way road. Again, thank God; that’s all I can say.

The consolation prize...was that I got to see a beautiful sunrise on my way to the shark dive...
Sunrise over Gansbaai
By the time I arrived at the shark dive, it must have been 7:30AM; I was 45 minutes late. Everyone at Ecoventures Shark Dive was extremely nice and so happy that I arrived in one piece. The other 20 or so people that were also doing the dive were also anxiously waiting for me. So I missed the light breakfast (damn) and I quickly followed the line of cars out to the diving area.

We got out and I met up with the other 3 people that were from my backpackers. They were all confused as to why it took me so long. It was a bit embarrassing but all I could feel was gratitude for making it there in one piece. We hopped aboard the boat and I joked and told the others about how I had heard stories of people getting seasick and their puke flying all over the place and into other peoples' faces. Ten minutes later, I became surprisingly quiet. I was feeling extremely sick from the boat ride and a severe bout of sea sickness. I really wanted to throw up but since I didn’t have much in my stomach (just the two pieces of toast from over 2 hours ago), I had nothing to throw up.

We quickly suited up and I was the first to get into the water. I kept forgetting to keep my hands inside the cage and when I remembered I was scolding myself for not being more cautious. I kept floating up and couldn’t have a steady grip on my camera so the boat people threw some weights on me to try to hold me down but this only helped a little. The water was freezing but I did feel better being on the water than out on the boat. It took us about 10 minutes in the water before we saw any sharks. Eventually, they had to switch us out and rotate the other people into the cages. I continued to feel ill and couldn’t move. I was grateful for the experience but thought the boat ride really made all of this challenging! After sitting on the side for about 30 minutes, the main guy, Rajiv (I think that was his name though it threw me off because he didn’t look Indian to me that I thought maybe I misheard his name) asked if there was anyone who wanted to go in again because we had an extra 10 minutes before we had to head back. I quickly shot up my hand because I didn’t feel like I got a good view the first time around!

I quickly jumped back in and had some great Great White encounters! It’s just a shame that I didn’t have my camera figured out because much later I realized that I did have an ‘underwater’ feature which I didn’t use, had I used it, I could have had ‘continuous shots’ where the camera would have just continuously taken photos. Oh well, I blame it on the seasickness because I couldn’t bother to figure this out between my two dives. I do have some quick snap shots though none as good as I would have wanted. It was unfortunate too because I think I was too concerned with trying to capture it on camera that I don’t know if I really appreciated the moments when I was actually there experiencing it.

After my last dive, we quickly made our way back to shore. Thank goodness! I don’t know how much longer I could have taken on that boat! After setting foot on land, I still felt cold and ill so needed a few minutes to acclimate myself. We went back to the office and had our lasagna lunch which was actually not bad. The lady was also very kind to let me pay after the dive; had I been malicious, I could have skipped town and not paid but of course I wouldn’t do that!

I felt really ill...

When I see this photo, I think, da-dn- da-dn da-dn....JAWS!

The incredibly nice staff at Ecoventures Great White Tours....good people.


I took the ocean road back towards Cape Town and surprisingly it was only about 2 hours away. I made some detours along the way with a stop at Betty’s Bay where I got to see a penguin colony. I also did make it out towards the peninsula but there was road work going on that it took me almost 45 minutes to drive through that by the time I finally got to the Cape Point National Park, I only had an hour and it would cost SAR75 ($10) to get in for so little time. The lady at the guard shack advised me that I wouldn’t have time to take up the car and definitely not enough time to walk so I resolved to come back the following day to do it properly.

All in all, it was an exciting weekend and I am so grateful that I am able to live and tell it!

No comments:

Post a Comment