Bang! Went the gunshots at 6 in the morning. “Oh you can f*ck off” I thought as I opened one eye to check the time on my phone. I had barely slept because my hostel had only provided one thin sheet and it was freezing! Plus, my arm was still throbbing from the cut I obtained the night before. Most of the island were still sleeping, apart from anyone capable of playing a brass instrument of course, they were directly outside my window. It was whilst packing my things ready for a day of diving I realised I couldn’t find my underwater camera. “You have got to be shitting me”, I thought angrily at the universe. I looked everywhere and it had gone, I even stopped at the restaurant I’d eaten at the night before on my way to the dive centre, but no such luck, it was gone. I was hungry, as my panicked camera hunt meant I’d had to forsake food. I arrived at the “wrong” dive centre with anxiety, teary, and wishing I’d never bothered coming to Cozumel. I took advantage of the free wifi in the dive centre to book a flight to Oaxaca leaving the next morning, so I could focus on moving on with my trip. A couple of hours later, my mood would completely switch and I’d be leaving Cozumel on a yellow and blue boat suddenly enjoying the enthusiastic band and the sunset as I headed back to Tulum. But I’ll get to that…
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I had been told that the diving in Cozumel was world-class, but nothing could have prepared me for quite how incredible it was. The moment I jumped off the boat and into the crystal-clear water I completely forgot about my bad mood and I was mesmerised by the underwater world I discovered.
I saw seaweed that looked like waving rubber hands with long fingers. Some of the thicker fingers were a violet glow in the dark, like the sticks you get if you go to a rave. As I glided through the coral and seaweed, it reminded me of the decorations in my fish tank at home.
However, there were more interesting creatures than just goldfish in the turquoise blue water of Cozumel. In fact I saw so many different creatures as I glided through the water that I was half-anticipating to hear the familiar sound of David Attenborough’s voice in my ear. I saw a giant turtle just chilling on the coral wall with fish surrounding him. Turtles are probably my favourite animals of all to see in their natural habitat because they just look so majestic! My diving partner did the underwater signal for a shark, and I found myself doing a little prayer as I looked to where she was pointing. Please God let it be small! Thankfully it was! I saw the most fabulous lobster strutting along the sandy sea floor with some serious sass (he looked like the kind of guy who would declare “YAAAS QUEEN!”, and it gave me a new found respect for those crustaceans! I spotted fish that were jet black with an almost UV white line across them, and other black ones with a purple iridescent glow around it, which I imagined to be its aura. I looked with fascination at the mouths of the fish, as some looked like they were pouting, some gormless, and others appeared to have the goofiest grins! I noticed two relatively large fish dancing together through the ocean! One was yellow and one was brown with thick white spots, so I imagined they were grooving to music from the 70’s! My imagination was running wild, and I found myself continuously singing “A Whole New World” as I glided through the water pretending to be Ariel!
One of the brilliant things about diving is that you have to really focus on your breathing so that you can spend longer under the sea (excuse the Little Mermaid quote, but I did tell you!). In, out. In, out. I’ve never really paid much attention to my breaths before I realised I naturally take very long inhales and shorts exhales. I began to wonder if this breathing technique might count for some of the anxiety I feel in day to day life?
By the time I reached land again, I felt calm and reflected on what Aiesha had said to me when she did my Mayan reading in Tulum. At the beginning of the day, I had felt lost and out of control and so I had booked an escape route to Oaxaca without thinking it through properly. One of the basic safety rules of diving is that you can’t fly for 18 hours after being underwater (I won’t bore you with the details but it’s because of the extreme differences in pressure and can be fatal)., and so I was unable to fly. And also, my friend Pepe had found my camera in his car, so fate dictated that I’d be returning Tulum for one more day. My irrational desire to run away and escape the present had cost me over £100 in plane tickets, and it dawned on me that this reaction wasn’t dissimilar to how I behave in friendships and relationships when I feel hurt or angry. I’m sure there’s more than one ex-boyfriend reading this and nodding enthusiastically to this realisation, at they remember how many times I have blocked and unblocked them!
So it would appear that spending twenty-four hours in Cozumel had taught me some valuable lessons: travelling has its ups and downs, I’m an emotional anarchist, and most importantly I need to take time to breathe in and out, both above and below water. If you are ever find yourself in Mexico, I cannot recommend enough that you check out the diving there.