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The sun poured into the room like buckets of paint, spilling onto the curtains and then it slowly progressed as it touched my eyes, spreading warmth all over my body. I jumped out of my skin, startled by the creature’s never ending screeches outside the enclosed room. I them as I rose every morning, yet I still seemed surprised by their calls, echoing throughout the foliage that encompassed the estate. I rolled over to the other side of the bed, glancing at black box that would determine my happiness. 6:30. I lay there, astonished and began to wallow in my misery and sleep deprivation. My body hung on the verge of collapse as I lay there heavily as if there was a one thousand pound weight, preventing me from moving. I ached in pain as I lurched myself forward, willing myself to move around the room, still sore from the previous day’s adventures. I entered the bathroom, examining what were the slightly tousled glossy curls from the night before, which was now an array of miniscule strands of hay, pointing in varied directions around the rim of my face. I threw my entangled strands back into a lop sided knot, pressing the outlying strands back with a headband, nodding slightly in the mirror, satisfied with my look.
As I headed upstairs, I went into the room of glass, which exposed the entire outside world to me. The windows were large, practically stretching from the floor up to the ceiling and beyond. I could still hear the now soft chirps of the songbirds humming their quiet tunes in the morning sunlight. It was our last day in Costa Rica. We had been vacationing with our family friends, the Leichtlings, for a week, and everyday was an adventure of a lifetime. We had driven ATV’s, gone ziplining, gone hiking, and jumped down waterfalls and were all hoping that this last day would be even better than the last.
My foot softened against the cool tiles, as I breathed in the air, still wet from the night’s rainshower. But after seven days and nights with torrential downpour, today there was not a cloud in the sky. The sun vibrated up above, almost blinding me. I stared into the abyss below, a steep drop of at least one hundred feet, and looked out farther, catching the slow roll of the waves, crashing into the sand. I took a final breath of air and sighed happily. Today would be yet another day filled with excitement.
“C’mon Nicole, the car is waiting!” shouted my Mom frantically.
“Coming!” I hollered back, my voice echoing around me as I trotted to the door, sealing it shut behind me. I thrust myself into the vehicle, as we drove off, onto the next adventure.
Before I knew it we had arrived, and I stepped out of the white washed van, taking a deep inhale of the salty spray of water before me. The waves broke against the dock, making a soft clicking noise against the hardwood.
“I can’t believe that we are going on this,” my friend, Ava stated. She was just as astonished as I was, our eyes growing at the sight. We gaped as the million dollars seemingly floated on the water with ease, towering over the other boats like a skyscraper in the sky.
“C’mon, we need to get a good seat,” she exclaimed pulling me by the arm, our families gleefully following behind.
“I’m so excited! I can’t believe that we’re actually going snorkeling,” I exclaimed with joy.
“ I know we’ve been waiting to do this for months now and it’s finally happening!” she replied, grinning from ear to ear.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please find a seat. Welcome to Cruise Line Adventures. I’m Juan and I will be taking care of you today, and in the back is Mike, the snorkeling instructor, and next to him is Jack, our captain. Today we will be going dolphin watching and we will be docking in at a private beach to go snorkeling,” he watched the crowd’s eyes brighten with every word. A private beach and snorkeling, this was true luxury.
“Servers will be coming your way momentarily with your drinks and some horderves. Pura Vida and enjoy your stay in Costa Rica!” he shouted as everyone exclaimed “Pura Vida,” in reply.
I threw on a pair of mirrored glasses, as I took a few snapshots of the neptune colored oasis around me. I leaned back into the chair, molding my body to its leather surface, sinking deeper and deeper into its mass. Sipping my rose petaled drink, its fruity flavors dancing around on my tastebuds, I waited in anticipation for something new and exciting to present itself to us. I stared at the water, as I heard the waves slap against the surface, occasionally having the salt sprayed onto my face like perfume. It was a desert. There was nothing in sight for miles upon miles, my heart and dreams sinking with every minute slowly ticking by, hoping that adventure would come.
“Ok, everyone. Over here to your left, you will see a pod of dolphins,” Juan stated.
I jumped out of my seat, darting to the balcony to try to obtain a glimpse of the creatures that I had been waiting so long to see. However, everyone on the boat was seemingly swifter than I was and managed to reach the balcony before I had a chance to catch a glimpse. I attempted poking and prodding my way through the dense and tightly knit pack, but it was no use. The crowd quickly began to disperse allowing me to see the faint outline of fins majestically moving through the water and away from the boat.
“Did you see that?” Ava exclaimed, plopping down onto the seat next to me. “They were practically right next to the boat. I could have probably reached out and touched one of them!”
“Oh yeah, that’s great.” I stated, trying to sound cheerful, but instead it came out as a monotonous robotic tone. Ava was too engulfed in her own good fortunes and glee to see the discontent swirling in my eyes.
My lust for another day of adventure was slipping through my fingertips. I was trying to grasp onto something, anything, to salvage this last day of adventure.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching the private beach where we will dock the boat. Feel free to use our personal waterslide or to ask Michael, the snorkeling instructor, about using our snorkeling gear,” he pronounced. Finally! The heavens opened up as a light shined down upon me. This was what I had been waiting for.
I scurried to the balcony like a mouse, weaving my way in and out of passengers trying to sneak a peak. As the boat neared, the inlet came into better view, my jaw dropping to the floor as I stared in astonishment. I quickly spun around to my parents, waiting to see their reaction. My mom’s eyes bulged out of her skull in sheer confusion and surprise.
“Excuse me sir,” my mom asked Juan, “Is this the private beach that we are going to be snorkeling and swimming at?”
“Yes, it is ma’am. It is an exclusive beach that is only for the select guests and residents who are privileged enough to be staying at the resort of Tulemar. Many boats dock here to not only enjoy the private inlet, but to enjoy the view of the beautiful homes.” My mom stared at him blankly, in utter disbelief. Her eyes protruded ten feet out from her head, as she stared, mesmerized by the scene in front of her. I stared at the view before me, looking straight at our house and resort in front of us. The homes towered into the sky, the foliage surrounding them, and bursting with plumes of purple and pink. Many of the guests on the beach were sloths, lounging lazily on the recliners. However, as I studied the scene in front of me, I began to recognize the fruits hanging from the trees and the carefully pressed pionees budding all around. This “exclusive” beach was the one that we had been swimming at every day since we had arrived.
“What are the chances of that,” my dad started, chuckling to himself.
“I just can’t believe that it’s the same beach. We could probably just get off the boat and swim back to the house,” Ava’s Dad chuckled in response.
“So much for a day of dolphins, exotic beaches and snorkeling,” I muttered in retort.
“Well, he did say that they have snorkeling gear. You and Ava should go out since you have been looking forward to this day for quite some time,” Ava’s mom responded.
“Yeah, that sounds great, I’ll ask Michael, the snorkeling instructor, to help us out. Maybe he knows some goods spots that he can show us,” Ava exclaimed. I sighed, but crossed my fingers and toes tightly, hoping that my luck had not expired. I hoped and prayed for one more memorable adventure to end this vacation of a lifetime.
I suited up in the snorkeling gear, looking more ridiculous than I had before, as I tried to adjust to the large pieces of plastic tightly secured to my face and feet. I then began securing a life vest on when Michael approached Ava and me.
“Are you girls ready to go out? There’s a nice reef by that rock around 300 yards out or so. I don’t know if we will be able to see anything because the water is a little murky but we’ll hope for the best.”
“Yeah I’m excited. I haven’t been snorkeling in years and I can’t wait!” I exclaimed.
“Sounds great. I’m assuming both of you are fairly decent swimmers, so you probably don’t need life vests. You can set them down in the bin and then meet me in the water,” he stated, leaving the two of us there as he lept into the water. Ava and I began unfastening our life vests slowly, unsure of what to do. I looked gloomily at the choppy waters below as they slapped vigorously at the side of the boat. My throat suddenly began to tighten as if a serpent was wrapping itself around me, as I broke out in a fearful sweat. Ava looked at me reassuringly, flashing her pearly white smile, as I smiled hesitantly back. We walked to the back of the boat, Ava leading. I stopped in my tracks, seeing black spots beginning to cloud my vision. I gripped the railing tightly, my knuckles turning white like a sheet of fresh computer paper, as I shut my eyes and knelt on the ground. I severely regretted my decision to only have half of a banana that morning as my legs began to tingle and tip beneath me. I peeked under my eyelids and slowly raised them up, like a garage door, as a rose back up onto my feet.
“Nicole, are you sure you’re okay to go out?” my mom questioned. “If you’re not feeling well just sit out. There will be plenty of times that you will be able to go snorkeling in the future.”
“No, I’m okay I just felt a little weird there for a moment but I’m fine.”
“Ok,” she replied hesitantly. “Just be careful out there, the water is a little choppy.” I nodded in reply as my legs began to start to feel like jello as I jumped into the abyss below. I began to slowly swim towards the instructor, as our families cheered us on from up above. I looked back at my family and we began our journey.
“Okay, girl,s we are going to swim out to that rock. Just let me know if anything comes up or if we need to slow down,” Michael yelled out. I glanced at Ava cautiously as she dunked her head under the water as I followed closely behind her.
I began taking slow and easy strokes as I felt the warm bath water wash over me, keeping close to Ava and the instructor. As I began to find my rhythm, I began to quicken my pace, sliding through the liquid with ease. I had almsot reached Ava when the once minute waves began slapping against me, making it more difficult to swim with the current. The waves began churning more and more vigorously as I struggled to keep up, creating more distance between me and the instructor. Ava was not far ahead of me and began to slow down her strokes, struggling to fight against the roaring current.
As I rose to the surface, my eyes began to cloud with black spots once again, causing me to shut them forcefully, as I began to panic. My legs began to turn into the water around me and quickly felt foreign to my body. My flippers and legs felt like lead, as they began to drop down farther and farther into the ocean, bringing me with them. I attempted to tread in the murky water, regaining some feeling in my legs, but the current continued to fight against me. The ocean mocked me, as it pounded wave after wave onto me, trying to make me signal a defeat.
I searched around frantically for Michael but he was easily already nearing the reef close to the rock. Ava was 20 feet ahead of me, and began turnign into a dot as she moved farther away from me. I began to feel my body sinking slowly like a weight, as I cried out in desperation.
“Help! Help me! Someone please help me!” I screamed frantically. But no one could hear me. The boat was clouded with music, conversations, and many of the guests watching others diving off the boat and into the water. No one was paying attention to the girl, who seemed to be bobbing up and down in the water carefully, but was actually drowning in the distance.
My breaths quickly became short and heavy, as I could feel my lungs running out of oxygen, causing my legs to cramp, making them useless to me once more. My eyes began to cloud once again, as I felt my body becoming limp as a piece of spaghetti. I shoved my head forcefully under water, hoping desperately that I would not pass out in the middle of the ocean. I scraped together all of the strength that I had left in me and tried to ignore my body that was slowly turning into jello. I chanted to myself “Right, left, right, left,” like a sergeant in the military. “C’mon Nicole you’re almost there. Just a few more strokes and someone will come and save you,” I repeated to myself. It was my only hope at this point.
I took my last breath and pulled myself through the enemy’s grip, using up the last bit of energy. I looked up to see that I was around 30 feet away from the stairs of the boat, but my body gave out.
“Help me! Someone! Please!” I screeched at the top of my lungs, but no one seemed to hear me. Tears poured down my cheeks, as I tried frantically to swim to the latter. But I did not have any energy left. I could not make it.
“I need help! I can’t swim anymore! HELP! HELP! HELP!” I hollered, hoping to catch someone’s attention. The darkness in my eyes returned as I felt myself slowly sinking under the waves.
Then, I felt an object splash into the water, landing right at my fingertips. I caught it just in time, and was able to float to the surface. I took the life preserver and clung to it as a man dove into the current, dragging me back to the boat. I felt the cool, hard surface beneath me, lying there like a dead fish. Crowds began swarming me like bees to honey. My family pushed through the crowds of people, coming to my aid.
“What happened?” my family asked frantically, looking down at my limp body.
“I almost passed out in the water. I hadn’t eaten anything. I tried calling out for help but no one heard me,” I exclaimed, tears spilling out of my eyes and rolling down my cheeks like a steady waterfall.
“We didn’t even hear you… We all went to the upper deck to watch your brother jump off, and it just looked like you were swimming in the water…” they stated apologetically.
“It’s okay. I was just a little frightened,” I stated reassuring myself. It truly was an adventure of a lifetime.
I slid into the seat, letting the smooth air soften against my skin, as I tried to make sense of the events that had occurred. My limbs turned into an earthquake, vibrating vigorously as I pulled a towel closer around my body, letting the tears spill from my eyes. My mom sat next to me, holding me in her arms, as I sobbed silently, overcome with emotions.
“You’re going to be okay Nicole. Just take deep breaths,” she said. Her words were honey, dripping over me, taking away all of the bitterness and sadness. My breaths began to slow, as I listened to the slow hum of the engine, as we coasted back to the dock. “How are you feeling?”
“Better. I just felt really dizzy because I had not eaten anything beforehand, and felt a little seasick. Then when I saw Ava and Michael so far ahead of me, I couldn’t help but panic.”
“It’s okay sweetie. The important part is that you are safe now, and that you know to wear a life vest next time you go out, and to eat beforehand.”
“Yeah. I learned my lesson once.” I leaned against my mom again, letting my mind thoughts, and worries go, listening to the waves clap against the shell of the boat, as I drifted off to sleep.
Later on that day, as I packed, getting ready to leave the tropical treasure, I thought about the day’s affairs. Although it had not been the adventure that I had been looking for today, it was something that I would be able to learn and grow from, and would make for an interesting story when I arrived back home.