Is there anything more soothing and magical than the ocean?
I have always been drawn to the ocean and consider myself lucky living in a beautiful harbourside city with amazing beaches. The rhythm of the breaking waves, the blue azure of water on a sunny day and the glinting of the sun all combine to seductively draw me to its presence. Even just walking along the cliff tops, gazing out at the Pacific Ocean, letting my mind wander is incredibly cathartic. Occasionally, the water throws up one of its inhabitants in the form of a dolphin or a whale to remind me of Mother’s wonderful nature.
About 18 years ago, the Italian Stallion did a PADI dive course and obtained our open water diver qualification. This enables us to dive to 18 metres. We have not dived as much as we have liked as we put diving on hold when our children were born. But the lure of it is ever present.
There is nothing like a dive, particularly in tropical waters. We have been lucky enough to dive in a few tropical locations and snorkel in a few others, including the Great Barrier Reef. Tropical waters are warm and clear and the visibility is amazing and that’s just the start! Then there’s the marine life, spanning the spectrum of nature’s palette, a world of grace and action, beauty and terror.
Our last diving experience was in Morea, Tahiti in the lagoon. We decided to take it slow with an introductory dive to reacquaint ourselves with this wonderful activity after our parenting hiatus. I remember the day vividly. I woke up nervously questioning whether diving was like riding a bike and whether I could really just jump back in and pick it up. We were the only people on the dive that morning, being escorted by Pascal, a handsome fifty-something year old silver-haired Frenchman who spoke no English. Luckily I had five years of schoolgirl French in my repertoire and between a lot of hand gestures, bad French (on my part) worse English on Pascal’s part and miming we established basic communications. I think I must have inadvertently communicated my nervousness because Pascal looked as though he was stuck with a skittish nerveball on his hands wondering how he we were all going to survive the next two hours.
To do an introductory dive, you have to pass two underwater skills. One is to take off your mask and put it back on without it ending up full of water and the other is to put the breathing apparatus (called a regulator) back in your mouth once it has fallen out. We all jumped into the water to do these skills. I had done them before of course, but that was over a decade back. Hitting the water, I started to panic breath. Panic breathing (short sharp bursts of gasping breath) is not a good thing on a dive as it quickly consumes precious oxygen. Pascal tried to calm me down in his gentlemanly French way holding me in a death grip, liability firmly etched in his face.
Within minutes I started to listen to my breathing, found the rhythm, focused on the length of each breath and watched the bubbles. I was back!! Pascal was relieved and gave me the OK sign with his fingers. Quickly dispensing with the skills we set out to explore. The kaleidoscope of colours was amazing, the fish life incredible and the thrill of spotting a shark energizing. But what I will particularly remember is getting reacquainted with the slow and deliberate movements of the dive. You kick slowly and deliberately, you turn slowly and deliberately and you breath slowly and deliberately. There are not too many opportunities in life to just be slow and deliberate. I also remember the euphoric feeling afterwards and this huge jolt of confidence in my abilities.
I am hoping to one day dive the Maldives and Palau, possibly with the children. In the meantime, I am content to explore the underwater world by snorkel from above confident in the knowledge that diving really is like riding a bike….. you never forget. Oh and it really does help to have a handsome silver-haired French diving expert and the Italian Stallion egging you on.
Are you a water person or a land lubber?