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  • I’m jumping off the bus, and my flip-flops get covered with sand. I can feel the breeze and watch the palm trees sway right. The clouds seem so much closer in Punta Cana. My best friends and I walk toward the beach. The locals are selling cigars to smoke on some boat I am getting on soon. So many selfie-sticks are in the air. Everyone wants an individual picture in front of the beach to post on Instagram. At the same time people want group photos. From afar I see this weird looking boat.

    “Empire Maryland group picture! Des! Get in the picture,” my friend yells. My family and friends are all smiling for the picture…oh wait it’s a video. “Someone help her change it to photo!” I stand on my tippy toes to see the boat come toward the shore. “Des look!”

    Everyone is so busy taking photo and videos. I want to enjoy the scenery. I can hear music playing from the boat. The boat is getting closer and I hear someone say, “That’s the Catamaran all 200 of us are gonna be getting on.” The boat gets closer to the shore for all of us to finally get on. As I walk towards the boat my feet soak into the wet sand. The sand washes off as I lift my feet out the water to take the first step on the boat.
    The boat takes off into the ocean. The shore appears smaller and smaller, we get deeper and deeper into the ocean. As Joseph Conrad would say, “The true peace of God begins at any spot a thousand miles from the nearest land.” I feel peace settling in.

    “Des, here! Take a shot!”
    We party. We eat. We drink.

    I feel the boat slowing down, and it stops. We all need to put on life jackets, snorkels, and those little floppy things you put on your feet. I watch my brother and my dad out in the ocean for the first time. They came out. Now it is my turn.

    “Dad take my phone! You know how to take clear pictures right?”

    I’m walking on the ramp into the ocean.

    I jump. There is nothing holding my feet from descending, and I feel free. For the first time in my life, I am out in the ocean, which is one of my biggest fascinations. The water is cold at first. I can taste the salt and see my flippers because the water is so clear. I have only seen beautiful pictures of water before, but now I’m the picture. I’ve always wondered how the ocean works. It’s so much water. I’m looking into the ocean and it’s like an aquarium. I’m watching the fish swim, and I am trying to touch them but they move so fast.

    “Des! Come over here!” my mom yells.

    She can’t swim, but that doesn’t stop her from getting into the ocean. It is difficult to breast stroke with the life jacket on, so I turn on back and bike pedal backwards. Now I’m looking at the big blue sky. The clouds are moving, and I can see the sun peeking through.

    “Help me get back on the boat!” my mom yells.

    She is back on the boat now and I lie back down in the water to finish looking at the sky. A lot of my friends are out in the ocean with me, but I feel like I am alone. Just the ocean, the sky, and me.

    “Vamanos!”

    It is time to get back on the boat. I am last so I can have the most time on the ocean. As I come out of the water I oddly feel like a different person. I am more relaxed and calm. Ready to take on anything the world has to offer. I have the urge to turn back around and jump back in.

    Seconds pass and I remember my dad has my phone. “Dad! Let me see those pictures you took!”
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