Some people can’t cook. Some people can’t sing. Turns out I can’t dive*.
So what I would really like to write is this: diving was awesome, I took to it like a duck to water, I am going to dive my way around SE Asia and hang out like a cool dude with diver types for the next 6 months. Sadly, as many of you know, I am far too honest for my own good, so here goes:
As I bobbed on the surface of the ocean, tears streaming down my face, on my fourth panic attack in 2 days trying to achieve my open water diving certificate, the only thing that kept me going was the thought of not wanting to write on here that I had failed. That, and a patient yet persistent chain smoking French instructor who basically gave me no choice but to overcome “zees sing in your mind zat stop you breazing”. Turns out it is quite important to breathe, and turns out I am not that good at it. My brain has never been particularly adept at taking more than one instruction at a time, and seemingly the same principles apply under water, when the thought of both breathing and taking my mask off to do all the skills training sent me into a hyperventilating fit on more than one occasion. (I wish I were exaggerating, sadly not). But I got there eventually thanks to Nico the instructor, and Agnes, an extremely lovely and equally patient dive buddy who persuaded me that it wasn’t unusual to be this terrified. (Poor woman, I am not sure she anticipated spending her honeymoon cajoling a pathetic me to JFDI**).
So, having finally mastered my skills training, we dived this afternoon – and I have to concede that it was worth it. In these two days diving so far we have seen a juvenile eagle ray, turtles, scorpion fish, eels, trigger fish, to name but a few, together with NEMO (yes, I found him!) – totally stunning. 2 more dives tomorrow and then I am fully certified. Although whether I will ever dive again remains to be seen.
We surfaced in time for me to recover, much needed beer in hand, on a beanbag by the beach, watching the local taxi drivers wash their horses (see previous post) in the sea as the sun went down and just soaking up the Gili Meno way of life. Which, I have learnt, is “if it is too much effort, don’t do it” (should have thought about that before signing up for the dive course). And with that in mind I am contemplating skipping the return trip to Bali and extending my stay here for a few more days until my trip to Lombok starts. I think it is very important to be totally relaxed before the proper travelling begins! There is barely any internet, no cars, no hot water, no shops, no tv. I love it! Being compelled to switch off is perfect. Plus, it is absolutely stunning. In an ideal world, I would stay here forever.
As a final thought, I have to admit, at this morning’s low point, I did really miss the ability to call on my friends. There were several people I could imagine talking me back down below the surface and as I contemplated the horizon (my instructor had left me above surface to “reeelax” whilst he did the skills training with my buddy) I really wished I could phone a friend for a pep talk. It brought back memories of Jackie on the Cervinia ski trip a couple of years ago shouting “t*ts down the mountain Sharon and just SKI” as I bricked myself at the top of a black run….. in this case I think the mantra is “insert the regulator and just bloody breathe!”. If only it was that simple (in both cases!).
*actually, I can’t sing either. But I can cook.
**Mum, it starts with “just”, contains a swear word at “f” and is something you probably wanted to say to me whenever we debated the merits of me tidying my bedroom as I grew up…