Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” That was the phrase that came to mind last week after I had jumped into the ocean with fins on my feet and a snorkeling mask on my face. It was day three of my visit to Viceroy Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen (the most romantic resort I’ve ever been to!) and while I knew that a snorkeling adventure was on the itinerary it didn’t occur to me that I had even a hint of apprehensiveness. I’ve always wanted to go snorkeling but for whatever reason I had yet to try – and until that moment I had completely forgotten that it was a fear I carried inside.
Yes, I can swim and, in fact, I can swim with my face in the water (not that I like it), but there has always been something about the thought of scuba diving and snorkeling that has especially given me the “I-can’t-do-it” claustrophobic-feeling. Irrational, I know. But that is what fear is.
DiveXplor is the company Viceroy teams with for the resort’s scuba diving and snorkeling excursions. The boat picks guests up from the resort’s pier, one of the resort’s gorgeous focal points (see photo above). The entire process is seamless. Our guides Anna and Gerardo have an obvious passion for the underwater world. They both talk with enthusiasm and passion that it reminds me that everyone should be so lucky to have a job they love.
The boat ride out to the reef was relaxing and informative as our guide was passing on interesting information about the ocean, sea life and what to expect. Once we arrived, fins and a mask were passed out and then one by one we hopped in the water. Until then, I was excited to snorkel. But as soon as I put the mouth piece between my teeth my heart began to race and I thought, “I can’t do this.”
We were wearing life vests and as my vest was rising up closer to my neck I was immersed in a swirl of a claustrophobic thoughts such as, “I can’t breathe!” At the same time I was thinking…what they heck is this? Am I have an anxiety attack? This isn’t like me. I love to try new things. I truly thought I could just “get over” this fear by just doing it, but that obviously wasn’t the case.
Luckily, two other travel writers, Nina and Isabelle, coaxed me into “just trying.” If I decided to opt out, the boat was just a little swim away. At this point, I agreed and slowly made may way to the reef. It occurred to me that I needed to practice breathing through the snorkeling tube and get completely comfortable doing that before putting my face under the water. Once I was comfortable with breathing through my mouth I attempted to try and when I did I was amazed with what I saw: Fish.
Beautiful, colorful fish. Lots of them! And the water was crystal clear. I had never seen anything like it. I pulled my head out of the water and told someone exuberantly, “I just saw fish!”
After that the feat of putting my face under the water was no longer an obstacle, but rather an enjoyable, exciting experience. Just like that. I couldn’t get enough. It was the “practicing” that made all of the difference. I guess that’s the way life is with anything we do. We need to challenge ourselves but practice first. Education, learning and understanding the subject before we dive in – figuratively and literally.
If you’d like to see more photos of the experience as well as some of the fish we saw, take a look at DiveXplor’s Facebook Page and when you stay at Viceroy Riviera Maya be sure to sign up for this snorkeling excursion. It’s a fabulous experience!
Thank you Viceroy and DiveXplor for giving me this memorable experience.