The moment I – and anyone who read my blog from Ko Tao – had been waiting for, finally arrived. Will I or won’t I take the plunge and go diving again? Even I didn’t know the answer to this one.
We checked into the Dream Divers Resort, on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. It was heavenly. In keeping with my previous theme, if I was going to face my fears I was going to do it in style. I thought tripling the budget should do the trick. Fortunately, this only meant stretching from $20NZD a night to $60NZD a night. It wasn’t going to break the bank. The room smelt like heaven should smell, with a slight whiff of bleach smothered in lemongrass. The towels and bed were soft as clouds and the outdoor shower let out a soft rain, like a hug from an angel. With luxury like this, it’s a miracle I ever went outside. But I did, to book a fun dive.
I was a little dubious as to the name; why would you call it a “fun dive”? If they called a skydive a fun dive then they’d be accused of not taking the risks seriously enough; But when it comes to diving it’s perfectly fine to define fun as having a kid squash air into a tiny cylinder, strap it to your back and plunge into the depths of the earth. Perhaps if they called it a “fun-but-we-take-it-seriously dive” then I’d be a little more comfortable going along with the charade.
The island of Gili Trawangan is small and able to be circumnavigated by bike in less than an hour. We did this one afternoon, having our bikes bogged in sand multiple times, stopping for a beer, eating dinner, and watching the glorious sunset. The island is a paradise. There isn’t much in the way of culture, as the island is filled with tourists and tourist activities. That is with the exception of the island mosque, which deems it appropriate to blast prayers through megaphones at all hours of the day and night. I’m all for religious freedom, but perhaps blasting rambling monotone speeches at 4am isn’t the best way to encourage others to join your cause.
Despite my lingering doubt I turned up on schedule for the dive briefing. The dive was to Manta Point and there were four of us going on the dive. “If we’re lucky we’ll see sharks,” our guide exclaimed. Oh great. Sharks. Who doesn’t want to dress up as a seal and parade themselves in front of vicious seal-eating creatures? I might as well strap some meat to my body and call it a day.
The boat bobbed up and down at the dive spot. It was time to jump in. I wasn’t terrified, but I wouldn’t say I was feeling carefree. It seems that I’m never allowed to take the easy street, as we had to do a backwards dive into the water. I had never done this before and I didn’t particularly want to. However, I was given the fear-inducing countdown and on three I lifted my legs in the air and did an awkward arms-and-legs-flailing fall into the water. Then the surface drifted up past my mask and we headed down to another world.
Perhaps time had healed my fear-wounds or perhaps it was because there was no pressure from the course, but I felt relaxed. There were many large fish at this dive site and I was captivated by the way they moved in the surge from the waves. A large cuttlefish watched us as we bubbled past. This is from the squid family and is the most unusual creature I have ever seen. It really felt as if we had landed on a far-away planet. The aliens were not bothered by our presence. As we continued our dive, we came across two turtles. I must say, I like turtles. I love turtles. They waved their strange limbs and cruised through the water. I was mesmerized. It’s a wonder I didn’t just sit there for the rest of the dive and I would have if it didn’t invoke scenes from Open Water the diving horror movie. Ben had brought the underwater camera with him and I was elated to have footage of these majestic beasts. Unfortunately, the camera had other plans, as it chose this very moment to give up being waterproof. The camera that had recorded our memories from South America, to Canada, to South East Asia was no more. RIP Sony action camera. In what felt like a short time later, we surfaced and I was left wanting more.
The best part of the dive for me was the feeling of satisfaction afterward. Even though the Open Water dive course was much scarier, I felt little accomplishment afterward as I felt that the fear had beaten me. I may have passed the practical test, but I hadn’t passed the mental one. However, now I can proudly exclaim, “I’m a diver!” I want to shout it from the roof tops and tattoo it onto my forehead. I’m a diver! This is something I remind Ben of on a regular basis. Mainly because I need to remind myself that I did it.
The next day we went on another fun dive, again with four people. This time we went to Turtle Heaven, located to the north of Gili Meno, Indonesia, and it really earned its name. We saw many turtles of all shapes and sizes in various stages of eating and sleeping. One particularly large Grandma Turtle floated directly below us. Even David Attenborough would have gasped at its magnificence, which unfortunately he won’t be able to do, as we have no record of this happening. But it did and it will be etched in my memory forever.
Upon surfacing one of our dive team looked ghastly pale and proceeding to power vomit. The water filled with chunks of bread around all of us. To say I was disgusted would be a wild understatement. I believe I then levitated out of the water and onto the boat in a microsecond. Before you feel sorry for the poor girl who had the shame of vomiting over everyone, you should know that this occurred because she drank her “weight in booze” the night before. Rule number four of diving, don’t drink and dive!
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