Travel Diary Freedom Out of the Life Vest

There is a stereotype saying that Indonesians are blessed with the ability to swim considering the large water area that we occupy on the globe. Some say that swimming is our nature to survive from Tsunami.
As a scientific person, I used to believe that I would never drown in the ocean because the average specific gravity of the sea water is higher than a human body so that theoretically, we would float on the ocean even without life vest. With that theory borne in mind, I was surprised to witness a numerous locals wearing an orange life vest looking like a floating Nemo searching for the real Nemo during my trip in Karimunjawa. Then without doubt I jumped into the ocean only with the snorkel on. It went fine until I got water entering my snorkel. I was panic; looking down into the ocean didn’t help me. I almost drowned. That moment made me aware of my biggest fear. I fear of being unable to touch the ground. I fear the infinity depth.

Floating Nemo in Java Sea, Karimunjawa

Although that moment didn’t stop me from snorkelling but it caused me to take more caution to wear life vest. Thanks to the life vest that had granted me a peace of mind while flirting with yellow-stripped fishes in Belitung or dancing with barracuda and the giant mantas in Nusa Penida during my weekend escape in Nusa Lembongan. Even so, I am not happy with my limitation so I started to learn swimming. I improve my movement but not suddenly eliminate the fear. I still had to depend on the life vest in open water. I didn’t manage to omit the trauma. But there is always the first step to make a big change.
So last February in Krakatoa, I challenged myself to snorkel without life vest. Three hours on public bus plus three hours on ferry then another hour of road trip to catch four hours of boat trip later, I arrived in Lagoon Cabe, the first snorkelling spot of the trip. I commenced by putting on my long-time Cressi snorkel mask and holding the urge to grab the life vest. I slowly yet confidently made my step descending from the boat. Voilà! There I was, immersing myself in the warm sun-heated sea water without life vest. I adjusted my body to balance the position. I faced down into water, swung my hands together with my feet kicking the water like the second engine. What a feeling! It is much more freedom to move in open water without life vest. I greeted as many fishes as I made my way away from the boat. I swam above the unfortunate dead corals. I shouted inside me, feeling proud that I finally get myself out of the life vest, out of my temporary comfort zone.

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