Monday, June 09, 2003

Under the Sea

I meet Barbie, my Dive Master. She's going to take me through the basic skills in the shallow water. Diggy, who's in Cebu right now, will be my Dive Instructor and take me on the deeper dives. I meet her at Camiguin Action offices in town, then we take a motorella to Secret Cove where they have their dive office.

Secret Cove is another small resort along the same side as Agohay and White Island. There are quite a few foreigners who stop here, mostly because they have air conditioned rooms. Their restaurant serves a lot of standard Western dishes: meat and potatos kind of fare. I had come here a couple of nights ago with Ros for their Mango Cheesecake.

We review the reading, some of the questions. My years of book learning have paid off. It's all very straightforward. She teaches me how to get the gear in order, connect the hoses, check the equipment. After putting on my wetsuit, I put on the dive gear, which weighs a ton: scuba tank, weight belt. We walk down to the shore, put our fins on and get started. Even along the shore there are a few tiny fish. I can't even imagine what we might get to see later.

I learn the hand signals to communicate. Thumbs up to signal that I want to go up and surface. Circle with the thumb and index finger to give the ok. Flat palm cutting across the neck to show "no more air." There is sound underwater, but it's difficult to locate and well, there's the issue of breathing.

I learn how to clear the water that enters my mask. Play around with adding and removing air from my buoyancy vest, so I neither float nor sink. This is the hardest concept to grasp, since up and down is usually relative to where the ground is. In the water, it is and it isn't. As you go down you can feel the pressure on your ears, but for all you care you could be at all sorts of strange angles. Barbie tells me that when you get it right it's like flying.

The skills seem simple enough. She demonstrates all of them first, then watches me do it. I try to take my time, relax, then try it. Getting out of the water is the hardest thing to go from barely feeling the tank to feeling like you're hauling an anchor out of the water. We manage to finish all the skills in about 50 minutes, which gives us time for lunch.

As we eat lunch, I watch the children play in the ocean waves. It's summer break. What a life! To grow up playing in the ocean for summer break. The sky is a sparkling blue along with the water. I've never seen an ocean so blue except in pictures. Even then I thought the pictures were photoshopped. I guess I was wrong. There's something mesmerizing about this color blue: dark, deep, cool, comforting.

Diggy is still in Cebu. I'll see him on Friday when we do the real dives. Friday evening is a despedida/going away party for Diggy on the full moon. He's going back to Germany for a few months to save money so they can continue to live in the Philippines.

Lolong picks me up for kali.

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