Everglades USA Exped – Day 20

Spinnaker Sail and Statue Dive

Today started with a strange feeling. I woke up and in the first minute I didn't know were I was. Then I became aware of something in front of my face. A video camera. And behind it, smiling, was our wonderful cameraman Javier.

We slept on the deck and although we had wind sometimes blowing as much as 29 knots, we all slept very well and enjoyed the fresh air and bright stars. It felt different and refreshing to just slip out of the sleeping bag and be on deck instead of hitting the my head on the bunk above me, creeping out of the narrow space between our porta-ledge beds inside the boat. I wish we would have done it sooner

At breakfast, Mike started to tell us stories of his adventures. He spoke about his youthful years growing up in South Africa. His life in the army by the time he was 18 and how he became who he is now. Always, when Mike tells his stories, everyone listens intently, hanging on every word..

I find it very moving every time, the words he chooses to describe what he lived through make you feel what he experience and appreciate even more what he wants to share with you. I found for myself that it is sometimes difficult to really comprehend the intensity with which he thinks and how he wants us to live, because it is so different from what we learn in normal day-to-day society. The open mindedness he wants us to develop, to see through “the wall” as he describes it, to live the life we want to live, to do what we want to do no matter what, to stop forcing ourselves to think positive and to just be positive, and above all, not to live the life you dream, but to make your life so much better thn your best dreams.

I found it very special that he shared his way of thinking with us, in some cases I can see clearly what he wants us to do.

One special moment I had was when Mike describes what holds together the group of amazing people on board here, as completely different as they might be, they share his passion: LIFE. And I think it is the best and most challenging passion one can have, but the most desirable I know.

After talking to Mike, we went into the water to search for a statue, sunken on purpose by our dive gear sponsors – the Cressi family — from Italy, called the Christ of the Abyss. During the morning’s first dive/snorkel session we were unable to find the statue because it was in fact only human size, but during another try we finally found it. The underwater world here on the part of the coast was incredible. A huge reef filled with all types of corals and beautiful colored fish.

It was nice to be in water again, but my ears gave me some trouble free diving to the statue, which was only in the depth of 4 or 5 meters. The highlight of the dive was a great ray laying on the sandy ground only some feet away from the statue, staying calm although everyone was swimming and paddling around it.

After diving we, the young explorers, got to cook the lunch. We enjoyed getting active in the kitchen, although it was sometime uncoordinated with seven people in so little space. We made chili … and unintentionally crunchy rice. Whoops! We don’t know what was happening in that rice cooker. Not much!

The rest of the afternoon past by in a rush. We were all busy preparing our group presentation which Mike tasked us with for the evening. The theme was to brainstorm possible projects we could implement after our weeks spent in Florida and on the Atlantic ocean – an incredible region of land and sea. Everyone was happy that we didn't have to stand in front of Mike and the staff all alone this time. We all did very well in presenting our ideas with which we came up with possibilities like: beach and roadway clean-ups, small expeditions, fundraising through incentives per bag of garbage young people collect and integrating local people in exploring their backyard, sharing the fun of nature with others and recruiting new young explorers who can help to make life here sustainable.

After dinner Mike started to tell his story about his trip with Borge Ousland to the North Pole during the arctic night. The story is really fascinating and all of us were riveted on the story, but sadly it started getting late in the long day and everyone was so tired that he had to postpone the story’s finale until tomorrow. Tomorrow – the last day of our expedition. I can’t believe it’s almost time to go back home. I don’t want to leave.

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