Our arrival in Gansbaai, South Africa was welcomed. The oceanside city, saltwater air and sound of the waves crashing felt so heavily relaxing.
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We booked a small B&B and were thrilled at the place. However, we were the first and last guests, as the owner had decided to sell this rustic getaway right on the ocean front.
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We had a wonderful couple managing the place while we were there, Dion and Linda, and it was a welcome relief to visit with them. They recommended a restraunt, Thyme at Rosemary’s, which we enjoyed and even got the opportunity to meet the owner/cook, Rosemary, herself. The food was wonderful, but again, the food of South Africa has to be another post entirely.
The reason we had trekked to Gansbaai, was that we had booked Great White Shark Cage Diving.

I woke up on the morning of our Shark Dive after a night of dreaming of great white sharks. I had the most vivid dreams! In my dreams, which are always whacky, it was greenish around the sea where I was and the sharks were super friendly and actually rubbed up against me.
Crazy, yes, but addmittedly, the dream was very comforting because I was quite nervous of the idea of diving with a Great White.
After a wonderful full breakfast, we visited the Volkswagen Marine Sanctuary and met two African penguins who had been trapped in a fisherman’s net.
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Luckily, we were told, these guys were not harmed more than a bit of dehydration and would be returned to their colony the following day.
Onward we went to the spot where our shark dive was going to take place. White Shark Diving Co. at the bottom of a route covered with many shark diving companies. We were to go out with 18 others. I was getting really, really nervous.
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After a delay, due to the governmental service that regulates boats that take out shark divers showed up and caused a skiff, we were off. The air was cool, the sun was warm, and we were going to dive!

When we arrived 9km out where our cage had been left, in hopes to get the sharks comfortable with it, we were instructed to get into wetsuits. As usual, they were akward, and we were freezing. Immediately, they called for people to volunteer, as the crew of the ship had spotted a Great White. No time to think, a gal from Canada and I volunteered. I have learned not to think too much when something frightens me, but to just do it.
As soon as we hit the water and scooted down the cages, we were filled with massive amounts of nervous excitement. Prior to leaving shore, we were briefed on where to put your hands and feet, and where not to, never touch the shark, go down into the water when instructed and pay attention. Canada and I chattered as the other girls got in and we all reviewed where to put our feet, hands, etc. Then, the crew members yelled, “Down! Down! Down!,” and we took a breath, and under we went.
The water was calm and the great white, about 16 feet long swam right by us.

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Un. Be. Lievable!!!!!!!

In no words can I describe to you the awe of being this close to an animal so easily feared and misunderstood. We all were amazed.
Chad went next and while he did, the girls and I tried to capture photos, warm up and explain how we felt. Mostly, I heard the word, ‘awesome.’ While Chad was in the water, one of the five sharks got a little animated.
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Woah!?!?!?
The shark, we learned, are not fed, just thrown chum and a giant tuna head which they jerk away at the last moment.

Cray-zee!!!!
On our second dive, we were hussled in to see the shark, as the guides knew the shark were getting disinterested. While we were in the cage the second time, the great white decided to whip his body through the water and he struck the cage with his tail. This maneuver elicited a roar of screams and for a few very brief seconds, I wanted to reach out and touch him as he swam by so closely. THIS was crazy-thinking and totally against policy and would cause everyone to lose the opportunity to dive. It was a very fleeting thought, but it was after that moment that I realized and am forever convinced that Great White Shark are beautiful, magnificent creatures. In fact, this instant reminded me of my dream.

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I am amazed by humans and our at times seemingly negative impact on animals and the stupid things we do for a treasure or an experience {such as shark fin soup, rhino and elephant poaching-all of which we have been told tragic stories of these weeks}. I am grateful that educating people works and that being aware and conservative is hopefully an ideal we are successful on sharing to our future generations.
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Our main guide had moved to South Africa from the States just to work with the shark. That day, he said we observed five different shark, which was very lucky. So lucky in fact, that after we all got our two dives, the captain called another dive boat to come over.
This experience, due to the adrenaline expenditure, left us with a massive calm and was one of the most rewarding of our entire trip!
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