Monday, 11 November 2013

The Gili's and Diving


The Gili’s –  are three islands which have developed into three apparent enitities – a party island, a quiet island and one in between. We are on the one in between – Gili Air. And you know what? Its very cool. There is a big range of ages, lots of couples, our accommodation is an air conditioned Balinese style hut and it is quiet with only the sound of the surf and murmurings of a few tourists.
The days are lazy blue days with wispy clouds drifting on the warm breeze. At about 6.00pm most evenings there is a sudden build up of wind (blew down the roof of the next door restaurant one night) and then, 30 minutes later, as the sun sets over the
sea, the wind drops back and the pleasant, warm night begins. The lights come on in the open air cafes that line the narrow sandy path that goes around the island and as we walk along, past these gently swaying orbs of blues, reds, yellow etc hanging from the thatched pagoda roofs and listen to the mix of reggae, david grey and chill out tunes we feel supremely relaxed.

My fears of sub-twenty dreadlocked party people shouting “Awesome” or “Drink, drink drink!” have not materialised. They're just folk. Not many of them either. We are all here just chillin and its good. The sun always shines and although the beaches are white they are corrally so I have not swum as much as I would have thought. But hey. When you get out there and look beneath the waters there is much to see.
Rachel conquers her fear of water?
Day one we drank lots of cocktails and then drank some more then passed out. Day two we decide that today is the day Rachel learns to snorkel so started off drinking a cocktail in a bar with Rachel wearing a mask and snorkel and between sips of long island iced tea, practising breathing through the snorkel. 3 seconds to first retch at the start but quickly improving. We ended the day with her snorkelling in the sea out of her depth – amazing progress for someone who was feeling claustrophobic and terrified of swimming in the sea. But then if you do see a turtle almost as soon as you get in its got to be an incentive. We end the day with a cheeky smoke, that I buy off a local, that sends Rachel immediately off to sleep and leaves me alone on the balcony listening to music.

Today. I am typing this as Rachel is doing a free scuba try out in the pool. This is really gutsy stuff and I am so impressed with my girl. I hope she likes it – or deals with it. We’ll find out in about 30 mins. Blimey. She did!!!! Not only that she wants to now scuba in the sea. She told me that when she was in the pool and she was getting scared she would think of me and how good it would be to be able to do this together…. So here we are on the brink of yet another shared experience and at 2.30pm tomorrow we will be able to actually do a dive together (all being well)

I will hand over the rest of this blog to my very clever, very brave, very brilliant and lovely girlfriend who can tell you, first hand, about her adventures……
erm, scary is not the word. Actually lots of words describe it. exhilarating, exciting, terrifying and probably awesome.

I was too scared to go off a boat for the first dive so we walked in from the beach. And do you know what, all that equipment weighs a bit, I reckon about 18kgs, but once under the water you don't know its on. Anyway, I'm digressing. I felt pretty anxious but Tony, my divemaster, was very patient and as we went deeper he made me look into his eyes so I wasn't aware of how far down we had gone and couldn't panic too much. oh yeah, except for when we first started and I wanted to ask "how do  I swallow?" and "what if I sneeze?". Perfectly reasonable questions I thought!! We saw a turtle, a blue starfish, loads of beautiful fish and colourful coral. We went about 9 or 10 metres down and once we'd rinsed off and dried out I could not stop grinning. I was so pleased with myself and decided that a long island iced tea was in order to celebrate! and booked a wreck dive for two days time.

A wreck dive obviously meant going in off the side of the boat. Chris' words and Tony's words, "just plop off the side". ok, to get this clear I hate getting my face wet, I never jump in a pool, I never dive in a pool and I certainly would never drop backwards in to the sea with all this weight strapped to my back. So plop off the side was much more of a drama than breathing underwater! After half a dozen attempts and some gentle persuasion (trying to push me over) and leaving nail scrapes on the bench where I hung on so tightly, I eventually went backwards off the boat. I thought I was going to cry and at that point I would have got straight back on the boat....except with all that gear on its virtually impossible. So I spent the next 40 minutes equalising my ears and getting deeper and closer to a sunken ship. Unfortunately we didn't see anything too exciting and I was still so het up from getting in the water that it didn't give me the same sense of achievement. Then to top it off it took three people to drag me back on the boat like a rather grumpy beached whale. But after all that, I now look at what I achieved over my three days and am determined to get my Open Water PADI so I can see some of the wondrous sights that the sea holds.