Post lunch, we off to our dive spot for the second session. I was hoping that we would actually get underwater this time. This was going to be the last dive for the day and for the trip and we really had to do it.
This kind of stupid pressure is of course the key to panicking all over again. Which I duly proceed to do once I got into the water. I spent ten minutes thrashing around and breathing out through my nose, leading to frequent bouts of coming up for air. Meanwhile, P was battling her own demons and told me that if her ear were to start paining again, I should just go on without her. Yeah, right.
Finally I calmed down and remembered to breathe through my mouth and life became better again. P also was meticulous about doing her ear equalization exercises. Katie held onto our hands and slowly took us down.
It was fascinating. There were all sorts of fish swimming past us and below us. Thanks to Bobo’s books, I could recognise the banner fish. And what looked like a sun fish and an angel fish. There were also several bright blue star fish clinging to the rocks. The vividness of the colours stunned me.
We descended further and I spotted a clown fish. I had been really hoping to see a clown fish so I could tell Bobo about it. And there it was!
However I was quite subdued when it came to expressing my joy. It was all very well finally being able to breathe underwater but there was no way that I would let excitement get the better of me and lose my regulator or let water enter my mask. The tricks I had been taught to handle these, would be enormous challenges to actually implement underwater and if I could avoid those situations, I would.
Right on the heels of the clown fish, we saw a Blacktip Reef shark (we found out the name later). A shark-spotting is considered a sign of a good trip and nothing could have made the dive better than seeing one. It was a shy creature, around a metre long, hiding away in the shadows. The sharp fin on the back was quite clear, so was the pointy front. Delighted, we swan past it.
For most part, we were seeing some beautiful coral or fish in the water. The sea bed descended gradually and we stayed close to the reef and the sea bed, taking in the sights. However, there were some points in the middle, when there was nothing to be seen but the dull green water with lots of tiny particles of dust (?) moving briskly with the current. It felt like we were in space.
We swam for what seemed like a long time. My throat began to feel a bit parched from all the salt water I had consumed earlier. I was hoping I would not end up puking (‘just puke into the regulator and soon you will have fish feeding close to you’ had been Katie’s helpful advice. Like I was going to enjoy that).
Finally Katie did the ‘ascend’ sign and we burst through the surface of the water.
It was over and we had done it! Katie gave us big grins. I eagerly asked her how far below we had gone and she said it had not been much. It turned out to be around 3 metres or so yet had felt like a mission to a different universe. Still, we had actually swum a long distance (this we could see for ourselves) and stayed underwater for close to an hour. We were divers!
P and I were tired and happy when we got back. A little relieved too to have done the diving after having come this far. Katie had told us stories of clients who had come but had chickened out in the end. But by far the most important thing she repeatedly told us was that the dive was ours to enjoy and we should only do things that were comfortable for us. If that had meant, staying on the surface, so be it. It had helped enormously to know that we did not actually have to do the 12 metres maximum.
The boat eventually reached the shore and we went back to the dive centre to get our certificates of appreciation. Later that night, I wrote my post card, describing the things I had seen.
It felt good.