It was a shadowless day in the Galápagos — overcast skies rendered the water grey and opaque, even in the shallow inlet where our boat rested. The ocean current carried us east at a walking pace towards open water. Beyond that, there was the Pacific, and at its dark threshold was the spot we were given to snorkel. This was not a postcard-friendly cove.
Twice in my life I’ve nearly drowned, or thought I would: the first when I was six, at a friend’s pool party for his birthday. The second time was off the coast of Italy, 16 years later and the day after my own birthday. A freak set of waves pushed me down hard against the seafloor in a succession of unrelenting breakers. When I finally made it to safety, deep cuts and dry heaves were my evidence of baptism — I’d been born again, but at the cost of a tremendous, irrational fear of the ocean.
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