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Beauty Below the Surface

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The alarm blared in our ears and we woke up in a daze, the morning fog clearing slowly from our eyes. We pulled back the window shutters to see the sun rising over the small village of Sóller in Mallorca, Spain, which we had called home the past three nights. This quaint and peaceful village is just one of the many wonders Mallorca offers. There are also beautiful Mediterranean coastlines, secluded coves, Spanish architecture, a range of limestone mountains, and lush pine forests that grace the area. 

The perfect beauty of Mallorca, the crown jewel of Spain’s Balearic Islands, fills you with the urge to explore its dream-like scenery. In a place like this, you pinch yourself over and over thinking what you’re seeing isn’t real life; the views are too good to be true. Mallorca’s perfection challenged us to chase a unique experience while we were here. 

After a long early morning drive from one coast to another, we found ourselves arriving at a quaint port tucked into the rugged coastline of Mallorca. The port was lined with authentic Spanish homes that boasted thick stuccoed walls, tiled roofs, and clothing that hung on thin lines and dried in the rejuvenating sea breeze. Small, family-owned boats bobbed up and down in the summer sunshine and knocked against the dock as they danced to the rhythm of a rather rough ocean. 

Our excitement and adrenaline peaked as we locked eyes on our vessel for the day. Berto, our guide from Rock and Water Mallorca, enthusiastically called us over and we prepared for our four-hour exploration around the ever so perfect Mediterranean coastline. 

Stepping into the boat was a dance and our legs scrambled to find their balance and groove to the rhythm of the sea below us. We quickly ran through our list of necessities for the journey. Camera? Check. Underwater camera housing? Check. Fins? Check. Goggles? Check.  

Berto threw the anchor in the boat, fired up the engine, and hit the throttle, throwing us back in our seats. The wind vigorously whipped our hair back and forth as the boat not-so-gently skipped over the rough sea. I originally thought this would be a relaxing, enjoyable, and calm boat ride that took us to breathtaking views in areas I’d never been before. I was wrong. 

I could sense we were in for a real whirlwind within five minutes of departing. According to Berto, the conditions were, let’s just say, not ideal; and I could tell why. The ocean was heaving and the water turbulent. We went up, over, and down one wave after another. Every so often, we’d hit a thick wave, and even though we were holding onto the side of the boat like our life depended on it, we immediately bounced out of our seats and caught air. Within seconds we’d come crashing down and then brace ourselves for the next rollercoaster ride. 

The bow of the boat bulldozed through the choppy sea, sending buckets of water straight back into the boat and also, directly onto us. There was no escaping. We knew that. We weathered the rough seas and began to hug the coastline, trusting we could discover calmness and beauty in an ocean filled with what felt like chaos. 

Berto made a beeline toward the limestone rocks that gave Mallorca its ability to glow in the Spanish sun. It seemed as if he was taking us toward a specific spot; however, from my perspective, I couldn’t tell where he was planning on maneuvering the boat. There was clearly nothing in front of us that called for us to anchor and explore the sea. But it turned out I was completely wrong. 

There was a cave in the distance that looked the size of a quarter, and Berto closed in on that pitch-black opening in the side of the coastline. It was like he had done this a million times before, which he probably had. He eased up on the gas as the boat approached the cave and here the seas felt calmer for the first time since we left the port. Slowly, and I mean slowly, we pushed toward the opening. The boat made it into the cave, fitting perfectly, as if it was designed specifically to fit into this exact cave. 

Now, here’s the thing, when you’ve been in direct sunlight for the last 30 minutes and you enter a cave that rapidly swallows you whole with its darkness, your eyes are nowhere near adjusted and, I’m not lying when I say this, you can’t see anything. So there we sat, vulnerable as could be, waiting for our eyes to adjust. However, Berto had other plans in mind. 

He reached under the seat of the boat, snagged a couple pairs of goggles, and tossed them our way. We looked at each other and then back at Berto; we weren’t sure what he wanted us to do. Did he expect us to jump into the water even though we were still trying to conquer the complete darkness that made our adrenaline run wild? Yes, that’s exactly what he wanted us to do. 

My heart was racing so hard I felt I couldn’t catch my breath. Jumping into a pool of dark ocean water didn’t sit well with me. I felt vulnerable. But, after a handful and a half of contemplation and hesitation, we threw ourselves overboard, plunging into the dark Mallorcan sea. 

I slowly opened my eyes under water, expecting to see an ocean of nothingness, and it was the exact opposite of anything I could have ever imagined. 

The sun’s rays burst beyond the surface of the water as if someone was shining a flashlight down here in the depths. Acting like a mirror, the blue ocean reflected the sunlight, turning what I expected to be an endless sea of darkness into the most perfect aquarium-like view of the Balearic Sea.  

Rocks and seagrass created neighborhoods for life under the water’s surface. Forty feet below us, schools of fish whipped around in circles as they swam in their daily playground of crystal-clear water. We swam down as far as we could and looked beyond the opening of the cave through which our boat barely fit through just moments earlier. However, under the surface, the opening was massive; it looked like a gateway to a never-ending blue sea. We could see for what felt like miles as our eyes traced the coastline beneath. 

If I could cry underwater, I would have. There was so much to appreciate under the surface. And that doesn’t just go for the Baelric Sea off the coast of Mallorca, but for life, as well. We tend to make assumptions and judgements based on what we see on the outside, whether that’s another person, a book, the choppy and dark sea in Mallorca, or even ourselves. We’ve been tricked into believing what’s immediately visible is all that matters. 

I’m here to teach you that what matters is the beauty below the surface, not what’s on the cover of the book. It’s not the skin that’s beautiful, it’s the heart. 

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