Baja Blue Water Scuba
Whale Sharks and so Much More, by Koyuki N
The Baja Extreme program was just AMAZING!! I have never cried as much as I did leaving a summer camp than BE2. Well, “summer camp” is hardly fitting for this Broadreach program. Diving two to four times a day, having gold bond craziness with friends, taking a shot at sea fishing (which ended when I lost the whole fishing line), roasting marshmallows on the beach, surfing until you become black and blue…you name it! I mean, what other summer camp allows kids to hang out with friends and dolphins while waiting for lunch?
The most memorable moment of the whole entire trip was the day we spent at the turquoise waters of La Paz harbor. That day is etched into my memory like it was yesterday. That day, everyone had the chance to snorkel along with the majestic WHALE SHARK. When I jumped into the water, I swallowed sea water through my snorkel in shock and awe at what I saw in front of me. A black wall with white spots loomed ahead in the water, and as I swam a bit farther away, I recognized a very large, blunt head with enormous eyes watching us as we struggled to keep up with it. As if we were just a bunch of flies buzzing around it, the school bus size fish lazily circled to deeper waters, only to come back up to the shallows again. The shark came right up to me, only an arm’s length away. I realized that I was in the middle of its path, so I hastily moved away; the whale shark glided on as if I didn’t even exist.
When we were too exhausted from chasing the whale shark, we climbed back on the Fun Baja boat to take a break. We only had about 3 minutes of break time, for someone called out “Manta!”. We all scrambled to the side of the boat to jump in when we were given the signal to go. We were given the pleasure of watching a manta ray (approx. 10 ft wing span) display underwater acrobatics. It serenely flapped its wings and swam in a tight circle before flipping downward to the ocean depths. No one could stop talking once we were back on the boat. We had another whale shark swim after the manta, and once we got to our hotel rooms, everyone was saying “Two whale sharks and a manta on the same day!”. We sounded like broken records for the rest of the trip.
The Baja trip wasn’t just about the cool dives and whale sharks, but also about the people we got to meet. The Spanish locals were all friendly, and I never saw any of them become gloomy throughout the trip. Even when I nearly ruined dinner because of my horrendous cooking, the cook just smiled and laughed, showing me how to fix up the vegetables. The other kids on the trip were all great, and the trip would never have been as fun as it had been without them. We had some fierce matches of backgammon, someone getting stuffed in the trashcan at Hotel California, burying each other in the sand, and all the girls getting locked up in the tiny bathroom on the live-aboard boat (a hot and stuffy, but comical situation).
During the trip, I think we all learned to appreciate some of the things we take for granted at home. I have never enjoyed taking showers as I had in Baja, and I treasured all the clean clothes I had left in my luggage bag. Although I would never have eaten celery and carrots at home, I learned to like them when they showed up for food. I learned so much because of the Baja trip that I can’t possibly write them all. All I have to say is that any teen that has never been on this program is missing out a lot.
Koyuki Nakamura, BE2 Participant 2005
Signing off, Koyuki N