At 6 a.m., I boarded the van with 12 other brave souls for the 2.5 hour drive to Gansbaai. Even though it was early, I forced myself to stay awake for most of the ride - I didn't want to miss out on the scenery. The landscape was breathtaking, with mountains, plush green farmland, and vineyards as far as the eye could see. I also learned that hitchhiking is a way of life for many in the area. It wasn't uncommon to see men and women holding out fruit or money in an attempt to convince drivers to stop and give them a ride.
When we arrived in Gansbaai, we signed in, grabbed a light breakfast (fruit, coffee, toast), and sat down to watch an instructional video. The main point of the video was this: Keep your hands in the cage or the sharks will bite them off.
As the realization of what I had signed up for settled in, I boarded the boat that would take us to the dive site. We were warned that visibility was only about two feet because the windy conditions had stirred up sand. Still, if we followed instructions, our instructor assured us we would see sharks.
One of the crew prepared a tub of chum (mixed fish parts with water) toward the back of the boat, and seagulls started to swarm. I volunteered to go in the first group, so I went into the cabin to get fitted for my wetsuit. As soon as I zipped up my suit, I went to the side of the boat and threw up.