Ass Hole Tendencies - Great White Shark -
I am calling this journal entry, 'Asshole Tendencies!'
Ya see my mom, who loves me dearly, has affectionately referred to me as 'Asshole' since I was a wee lad…… Seems she thinks I have these asshole tendencies that can kinda get me into trouble. Not surprisingly trouble is not really a new thing for me ;)
So whenever my mother hears about some harebrained idea I come up with, she usually gesticulates wildly about and then lets loose with a good….'Asshole'. It's the little things in life.
Nowadays I have my own internal 'asshole tendency' meter. Some acts hardly register while others can rate right off the scale. They require a recalibration of sorts. Like that time in Ecuador when I marched into the gang of knife-wielding thieves or when I crashed a Mayan ritual and danced about with a trance-induced old Mayan man wielding a large machete. (BTW: I got plenty of slack for those activities so save your breath.)
So when my brother-in-law asked me if I wanted to go Great White Shark diving off the coast of South Africa, my asshole tendency meter kicked in. I tried to picture what my mother might have to say about such an activity. I tried to gauge by her would-be wild gesticulation or possible seizure. To be honest I had to let loose a little laugh trying to picture the look on my mother's face when I told her that Scottie and I planned on going Great White Shark cage diving.
Such acts require post-communication. By that I mean that the activity in question needs to be engaged in and completed before the admission of intent is made. That way parents and loved ones will have only a brief flash of 'he'll get killed' before they realize you are still alive. (At least for the time being.) Clever eh?
So if you possibly hear or heard the faint scream of an exasperated Jewish mother's cry of 'Asshole' you will now know the source and that my mother has just finished reading this journal entry….
So the four of us (Amy, Sami, Scott and I) rented a car and drove to the highly shark-infested waters of Gansbaai, South Africa. There we arranged a cage dive with an outfit that routinely plopped tourists into steel cages and then baited great white sharks into the area. To be honest I didn't really think we would see too many great white sharks. My experience in the past has been that large sea animals are rare and hard to find. I thought we might catch a glimpse or two of a great white but that it would be fleeting……
Boy was I wrong! Way wrong….. After hanging about for almost an hour. The only interesting thing I saw was both of my sister's puking off the side of the boat. They did this 'my turn-your turn' thing. It was really very civilized…..
My Travel Journal
Tuesday, May 7, 2002
Then we saw our first shark and it was a big one. The captain had draped a shark liver over the side of the boat and had tied three large fish heads to a rope and thrown that over board. The idea was to lure sharks into the area with the shark liver and then lead them in front of the cage with the bait on a rope…. Check out the picture for a better understanding of the mechanics involved.
I'll be damned if the sharks didn't come swimming on in. One right after the other. We saw 5 different sharks and on average they ranged in length from about 12 to 16 feet in length. Upon seeing the first shark the captain asked, 'who wants to be the first ones into the cage?' 'Me….me me me me! I want in that cage!'
Scottie and I both scrambled to put on our wetsuits. They let two people in the cage at a time.  

Scottie and I were the first ones in the cage so we weren't sure what to expect. The captain told us a great white was coming right towards us. He told us to hold our breaths and go down into the cage. He would lead the shark open-mouthed right into the cage. So that's just what we did and just what he did! Scottie and I stared wide-eyed right down the throat of a great white shark. If we had wanted to, we could have reached our little hands right through the cage and tickled the shark's tonsils. We couldn't believe it. We both high-fived each other under water. We were squealing with delight! Again and again the sharks came at the cage. We must have seen the sharks lunge and tear at the bait about 7 or 8 times and the last great white managed to miss the bait and came straight at us. The shark missed the bait and bit the cage.
He chomped down on the cage and shook it. We were like tic tacs! Luckily we were like the last ones in the box that never seem to come out! Sami didn't want to miss out on the fun so she too put on a wetsuit and jumped in the cage. Amy was the only one smart enough to stay out of the water.

Talk about a bonding experience. I could go home now and this trip would be a total success. That was about THE most AMAZING experience I have ever had. Hands down!
After everyone on board had a chance to get into the cage the captain embarked on a new strategy. He would lure the shark right alongside the boat and then reach out and open the shark's mouth. With his hand! The captain was actually reaching out and pushing on the tip of the shark's head. Sort of prying on his mouth. He was like my step dad, Koshie. Koshie is a dentist and he is always clamoring about 'open wider! I have to get that rear molar.' Killing me! Well I'll be a son of a gun if that captain didn't manage to fiddle around with the mouths of these great white sharks and to keep all of his fingers (hell, both of his hands). I call the picture to the left, 'keep your hands in the boat.'
The pictures in this journal were all shot at close range with my digital camera. I managed to snap the first picture on this page just as a great white cleverly approached the bait from under the boat. We had no idea he was even coming and then bam! This huge head came straight out of the water….. Jaws had nothing on this beast. Except maybe a better dental plan. The shark I caught on film is missing a tooth. Perhaps Koshie can do something for him…

Tomorrow we are off on our 19-day safari. I'm not sure when the next time I will be able to update this journal. We are headed into Namibia and Botswana. I will try to quell any more asshole tendencies. I promise not to mess with any hippos or with any animal that has big teeth and that can run faster than me.
So I will wind up this journal entry with a friendly reminder: if you can't keep from rocking the boat at least keep your hands in!
Dave and crew!