Travel Stories : some are of inspirational, magical moments, some of absolute fear, exhaustion, and challenge, but all are worth telling.
Coron Island, Philippines
Have you ever cried underwater?
Well here’s a story from this one time I did.
While backpacking my way around the Filipino islands, my friends and I visited Coron Island as our final stop. Many refer to this place as a diver’s dream; an underwater paradise full of Japanese shipwrecks from World War II, crystal blue waters and tucked away bungalows in the midst of mangroves.
Immediately, we booked a scuba dive adventure for the following day, planning to explore three ships the US sunk in 1944. The first dive went terribly wrong, with the mix of poor visibility, strong currents, a deep descent and ending with two lost divers and the urgent decision to return to the surface. With everyone safe on board, we headed to the second location, Kogyo Maru, where tears would fill my mask.
Everyone opted out of dive two except myself and the dive master. We slowly descended into the dark, haunted waters. With my heart racing, torches on, we approached the sprawling tangle of rusted steel abandoned on the ocean floor and swam in.
Inside we greeted curious jellyfish, explored the engine room and I almost lost my regulator when a bulldozer appeared beside me. Then we entered the main hall. As the Dive Master floated ahead, green-tinted sun beams shone through a window across the ship. For that second, I could see the vastness of this place. Imagining people aboard, running around the decks, terrified at the presence of war. The history inside this ship is enough to give you chills even in the warm, Pacific Ocean. In these waters, my Grandpa served for the Navy, and although his stroke stole his voice, I pictured him near by. My eyes welled up and tears of joy ran down my face.
As we exited Kogyo Maru, the universe surprised me again with electric hues of color escaping from living coral enveloping the ship’s bow. Vibrant reds, oranges, blues, purples, swayed in the current like a real-life watercolor painting, the most unimaginable underwater garden. I wanted to stay down here forever.
While we made our slow ascent back to the boat, I felt giddy like a schoolgirl with a secret. As soon as I popped up on the surface, I shrieked out of adrenaline and I began crying, again, out of utter amazement as I tried to babble what I witnessed.
Breathing underwater transcends you into an unknown world, a sneak peek at how more than half of our planet lives, full of life as well as tragedy and this place will forever remind me of the magic below the Earth’s surface.