The time I found Nemo
How can one thing be so calming yet exhilarating at the same time? What is it about diving that’s got me so addicted and wanting more and more? There is no amount of yoga, meditation or mindfulness practice that I have engaged in which has been able to bring me back to that level on zen.
Here is what I wrote after my first day of diving at Gili Trawangan in Indonesia.
I'm at Gili Island, it's off the cost of Bali, there are 3 Islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, I'm at Trawangan, the largest. I got in last afternoon from Bali, the boats are very much like India, only cleaner. I had to climb out the back of the boat, walk along a narrow strip to the front of the boat and then jump onto the beach, the fact that I did not slip and fall face down is an achievement in itself.
This island has a main strip where one side has shacks looking out into the water and the other side is packed with hotels, night markets, restaurants and shops . No motorised vehicles are allowed here, so you sit on a horse drawn carriage or cycle or just walk ( being very mindful of where you step and aware of all the horse poo). I was surprised to find that there is no fresh water here, it's brought over from the neighbouring Lombok. This place is so bohemian yet wherever you are you can hear the mosque and the prayers. I absolutely love this peaceful co-existence.
My first day of diving, a boat took us close to Gili Meno. Meno from the water looks like tons of private villas with beautiful white sand beaches.
The underwater world is stunningly gorgeous. I saw a lot of tiny fish , many multi- coloured ones; there was one tiny school that were deep blue and shiny, catching and reflecting the light. I saw a massive fish which was white with gorgeous markings, also saw a ray which was just so elegant. For me the best parts were turtles. They were everywhere! Saw one eating, one hiding inside the ridges of the reef and just looked like a large rock, and one just chilling. Saw many Nemos as well. Could not get over how TINY they were! Most of them seemed shy and were hiding in-between the plants . The plants, oh man. Some are beautiful , some ugly and some just seem plain dirty and gross! The floor was covered with something that looked like open clam shells, only they were HUGE. Scary parts so far none, other than me not wanting to touch or cut myself on the reef .
I was excited at first when we went in, then became calm and just settled in awe. I can’t even begin to explain that feeling of exhilaration and calm at the same time. It’s one of the most beautiful experiences I have had . I realised later that I went down only 12meters and experienced this completely different world , a different Universe altogether. I do feel some sort of reverence for the aquatic life down there .
I'm doing the PADI Open Water diver course at Trawangan Dive. I had to do theory in the morning , watched 3 videos and filled out an exercise sheet, first few questions were on buoyancy and I almost froze at thought of all the physics and math involved. I have the cutest Brazilian couple experiencing this with me , they are so lovely - beautiful on the inside and out . It helped that they were students and super smart, with teamwork we solved all of our sheets and were ready to go into the water. We then got geared up and went into the training pool to get used to our gear. The first time I had to go underwater and could not feel the bottom of the pool was one of the strangest experiences I have had! The gear is a wet suit , our hands are not covered , we are not covered knee down and we have flippers on our feet, air tank and weights to hold us down, and just lots of different nozzles and tubes to get used to.
I'm so bad at swimming with flippers , I’ve never used them in the pool despite being a water baby, I think I need to practice more. Though the funniest thing kept happening during the dive, I just kept floating up to the surface, nonstop! I have weights around my waist, to keep me down, but I kept floating. The instructors were really great, they calmed me down and then added EXTRA weights to keep me down. When we finished the dive I was told I need to exhale more underwater. Hmm need to practice breathing now too.
This island is a party island for sure and the sunsets are gorgeous. Most of the shacks have bean bags on the beach and fantastic music playing. It's my second evening at Gili Trawangan and I'm just super exited to wake up early and get suited !