Saturday, January 14, 2006

Learning to dive on Friday the 13th...

Learning to dive has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

It didn't start too promisingly, being friday the thirteenth. One of the first things that you have to do, standing up to your waist just off the beach, is breath from the tank of air with your mask on and stick your head under water. That was wierd, but good.

One of the next things you have to do is do the same but without your mask on. I completely freaked! It took me ages to force myself to breath like that.

And after that everything was amazing. The first day was mostly just practicing in shallow water things like what to do if the air runs out, or you loose your mask. But today we went out in the boat to a proper dive site and we were diving at 14 metres in fantastic conditions - the sea was flat and still, it was sunny, the visibility was fantastic. It is an amazing feeling to be swimming around underwater past the beautiful coral, surrounded by beautiful fish that just don't care that you're there - seeing some incredible things like moray eels and bizarre brightly coloured fish and things growing on the coral.

Time passes so quickly. We did two forty minute dives and they felt like 10 minutes.

The one slight fright we had was when one of the pipes on one person's equipment burst (apparently a very rare thing) but it was fine - she didn't panick, and followed the proper procedures to share air with the dive master, and surfaced without any problems.

The place I'm staying is great. At first I was a bit dubious about it. It was quite a shock to the system coming to a busy beach resort after cycling through really quiet un-touristy areas for a week. I spent the first afternoon before the course on the beach swimming and writing, and felt kindof out of place surrounded by all the beautiful tanned people. But actually now that I've been here three days I really like the atmosphere. It's not a big party place because everyone is on the island to dive. People are just really chilled out and happy.

And because it's full moon party tonight there are hardly any people on the diving course at the moment. On the open water PADI course that I'm doing there are two German girls, and a woman from San Fransisco and her boyfriend from Barcelona. We're all getting on really well, and it's great having one instructor for so few people.

But one bad thing did happen on friday the 13th. I got ill for the first time. I'll not go into detail, but it was not at all pleasant. But thankfully it only lasted from after diving yesterday until early this morning, so I was able to dive again today as normal. April (the San Fransiscan) was pretty ill too, and David (the Barcelonan) was feeling weak and tired, and I heard quite a few other people at this resort saying they were ill too, so I suspect one of the restaurants was serving something a bit iffy.

But because of that I decided not to go to the full moon party on the neighbouring island. I just don't have the energy or motivation to stay up all night dancing. Seems a pity to miss out on one of the world's biggest parties, but I don't actually care.

I'm going to take an underwater camera with me tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be able to make some attempt at capturing how it feels.

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