Water is water, right? Except when it’s over your head and full of creatures you’re not used to seeing face-to-face. Then it can be a bit frightening.
Although Cozumel families live on a relatively small island, some rarely see the ocean, may not know how to swim and don’t own swimsuits. It takes time off work and resources for transportation to bring your family from the middle of the city to the beach.
About a year ago, Friends of Cozumel embarked on an educational effort to help families learn more about the sea that surrounds them. With the generous donation of masks, fins and snorkels from the National Assoc. of Black Scuba Divers, http://www.nabsdivers.org/ FOC volunteers were ready to begin. They first helped children practice in the pool, sometimes having to persuade reluctant first-timers to put their face in the water. It wasn’t long until enthusiasm overtook fear.
The next step was to venture into shallow stretches of shoreline for a real ocean experience at Sunset Beach. After the children’s initial hesitation subsided, they were excited to explore a world they may have only seen in photographs. The snorkeling masks gave them a clear view of colorful fish, anemone, sponges and a man-made reef offering a home to fish in the shallow depth.
The children’s delight has piqued the interest of parents, and now FOC has requests for entire families to experience snorkeling.
Yesterday was a great day at Sunset Beach where seven children from FOC-supported families and their parents practiced their snorkeling skills.
“Tanya was a little frightened at first,” said Gary, a volunteer from Nebraska who swam hand-in-hand with a new snorkeler. “But once she got the hang of it, she took off. I had to kick hard to keep up.”
“Me gusta mucho (I like it very much),” said Armando. “Hay hermosos peces en todas partes (There are beautiful fish everywhere).”
And the nachos and soft drinks afterwards weren’t bad either. Thanks to FOC supporters for opening a window to the sea for these local families. ~ Phyllis from Nebraska.