I spent my senior year in Virginia, while the rest of my family lived in Ethiopia. Over Christmas, my parents arranged for me to fly over and meet them in Kenya, where we were going to spend a week on the beach. There were some complications on my flight over, but my dad managed to stay behind to pick me up. We drove for about 45 minutes to our beach house in Diani Beach, about an hour below Mombasa. We had rented a 3-bedroom villa in a small community of other villas, in the Cross Line Compound. We were about 5 minutes away from the beach and shared a pool with the other villas.
Every day we went to the beach after lunchtime. We spent the morning playing games or reading. We had a cook who made us fresh seafood everyday. Some nights we would have lobster, some nights we would have fish, and some nights we would have shrimp and crab.
One day, we went snorkeling. We talked to a guy on the beach who had a snorkeling business and we signed up. He had all the equipment we needed and got us on a local dhow, an old fishing sailboat. There were about 5 other families with us. The boat ride was about an hour out to the reef. We jumped in the beautiful blue water and swam around for hours. There were so many amazing fish! There were pink and purple sea urchins, zebra fish, angelfish, and so many other fish I couldn’t name. My favorite was a small black fish with a thin stripe of turquoise blue running down its side. I would take a big breath and swim as far as I could downwards, and just look at all the little crevasses in the coral. Fish would dart in and out, anemone would sway in the ocean currant, and sea slugs in beautiful colors would slowly make their way across the ocean floor. The coral reef was an underwater city, full of life, and it was amazing.
On our way back, we followed a pod of dolphins. We couldn’t go in and swim with them, because it was illegal, but we could follow them. They swam in front of another boat, jumping out of the water; it looked like they were racing the boat. We didn’t get very close to them but we could still see them from a distance.
When we got back to our villa, it was dinnertime. We had shrimp and pasta and crab that night, and we went to bed satisfied. Our trip went very smoothly and was a very relaxing vacation. I am very interested in marine life and eventually want to be a marine veterinarian so this trip fascinated me. I loved snorkeling and seeing the diversity of organisms that made a home in the reef. It saddens me to think that many reefs around the world are being destroyed. I had a great time at the beach and an even better time with my family.
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