"Are you excited?" I ask Suma, who's geared up in a wetsuit sitting next to me on our small motor boat.

"I'm nervous" she says with a soft giggle that doesn't quite reach her nervous eyes. "I'm nervous about breathing," she confesses.

"It'll be awesome," I say, reassuring myself just as much as her. "I'm sure we'll get the hang of it quickly." What I don't mention is how my stomach is doing flips, or how my heart race increases with every meter we draw closer to our destination.

Today is the day we Find Nemo, or, in other words, go scuba diving. We reach a small island not too far away from our own resort, and it's announced that "we're here". To my surprise (and slight horror) our instructor informs us that we will be departing the boat "James Bond Style". Yep, that means backwards. A few safety checks later and it's our turn, Andy to my left, Lauren to my right: 3...2...1 go!

Falling backwards out of a boat with a life jacket inflated like a giant marshmallow and several pounds of scuba gear on your back is quite an unnatural feeling. The water is a shock to the system, but there's something different than a normal pool dive- oh yeah! I can breathe! Our guide leads us to a rope and down we go, descending deeper and deeper into the omnipresent blue. After a little while, we reach our first rows of coral.

*Cue The Little Mermaid's "A Whole New World" playing in the background of my mind*

My eyes take in the sharp pink coral and the flowing orange and green aquatic vegetation surrounding us. Soon, several schools of fish meet us, surrounding the group on all sides.

Watching all of the diverse fish whiz past one another, I am reminded of people walking down a busy street. I wonder where all the fish are going, if any of them are going to a special patch of coral that houses them or a seaweed bed that serves as their grocery store. Or perhaps they're just swimming along, nowhere important to be. Maybe they too live on Fiji time.

A particular fish catches my eye with scales reminiscent of leopard print that blends cleverly into the sand. I also see tiny electric blue fish weave in and out of the coral, the distant sun reflecting off of their vibrant color.

After a while, I realize that I am so busy being amazed that I completely forgot to be nervous! Our guide helps my state of ease, floating gently along with her arms crossed looking the epitome of relaxed.

Out of everything, looking up was the best part. Seeing the 10 meters of water above us and knowing that this, the secluded home of these beautiful creatures, is somewhere most people don't get to see. We are so privileged to get a glimpse of what it's like to be a fish living on the ocean floor of Fiji.

It was sad to rise up back to the human world, but I for one left with a sense of gratitude, both to myself for leaving my comfort zone and to the ocean for the brief moments of stillness and beauty.

Even as we leave Fiji, I know none of us will forget our magical marine memories from this afternoon.

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Author Bridget Condron Posted