Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Backpacking - Friday March 21, Day 8 – Hermanus

We arrived in Hermanus late, but decided to grab dinner out at a nearby Italian restaurant. It was delicious. We were in bed early again, which was good since we had our shark dive first thing in the morning.

At 9am we headed out for our shark cage dive. A large van picked us up and we piled in. In the backseat I met a young boy with an American accent. I found out he was from Washington DC and was traveling South Africa for his spring break with his father, grandfather, older and younger brothers. We all got to talking and were excited about our impending dive. The boys were probably the smartest, most well-rounded kids I’ve ever met. They’ve been across the world, all over Asia and Australia; I was jealous.

We arrived at Shark Diving Unlimited right across from Shark Alley on the Indian Ocean – home to great white sharks. Shark Diving Unlimited has seen the likes of Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Prince Harry, so we were pretty excited. I got the chance to talk to one of the crew members who did the dives with all three guys and he had some interesting things to say. He hated Leo, saying that he was a rich brat. He said Brad was very down to earth, as was Harry. It was pretty cool.

When we got to the building we were served a fresh, hot breakfast. It was amazing. We ate as much as we could get in us before heading to the boat. The ride there was quick, but the sea was really rough and we were falling all over the place. The water was a beautiful turquoise color, surrounded by mountains. It was gorgeous. We made our way to the cage which was anchored and baited to keep the sharks around. We anchored next to the cage and the crew members attached the cage to the side of the boat. All of a sudden it was chaos across the deck as everyone was trying to get into wetsuits while the sharks were around. The cage held six, so the first six people ready got to get in. Grace was one of them. She jumped into the freezing water and waited while the sharks came back. They had a rope with fish heads attached that they threw out and pulled back to attract the sharks. As soon as one came near the crew yelled, “DOWN!” and the divers went under preparing to have an up close and personal view of the giant sharks.

When Grace’s group was done Ryan and I headed into the cage for our shot at seeing some sharkies. When we first got in someone yelled, “DOWN!” so down I went. The underwater experience was strange. It’s a cage, so there are places for your hands and feet, but the sharks charge the cage, so I didn’t want to come back up missing any fingers or toes. When the shark comes around it’s a bizarre experience; it’s so cold and quiet underwater and the shark is obviously aware that you’re there and there’s a blur between who is watching who. After our first viewing we waited for a very long time for another – something had startled the shark. It was freezing, but we were willing to tough it out for another sighting. When the shark finally came back we went under again. The beast whizzed past me and bit the cage on the right side (opposite me). I screamed underwater! It was amazing. After that we waited again, but nothing seemed to be coming so we got out of the cage and Sonya’s group went in.

After everyone got their fill of shark diving and the sharks stopped coming back, we cruised back to shore for lunch. Our hot lunch was delicious. When we arrived back at our hostel we unfortunately were unable to take a hot shower so we went shopping instead to pass the time before we took our final ride on the Baz Bus.

We boarded the bus at dusk and made the hour and a half drive to Cape Town. Just before entering the city we drove over a hill and the driver told us to look to our left – there was Cape Town, all lit up and waiting for us…