World Nomads: Ilse of Water

Een poosje terug deed ik mee aan een schrijfwedstrijd van World Nomads. Niets gewonnen, maar ik kan jullie nu wel een kijkje geven in mijn allereerste duik avontuur in Indonesië. Mocht je ooit de kans krijgen; ga duiken!! Klik hier voor de originele post.

Gili air. An island as ever you’d imagine one.

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Gili Air

I find myself on the side of a boat filled with oxygen tanks and fins. A cramped wet-suit protects my back from burning even more red. Nervous and sea-sick, I stoically repeat the lessons I learned in the swimming pool the days before.

Behind me the island is growing smaller. Its beaches filled with boats of all sizes, made with typical wide-spread pontoons. An hour-and-a-half walk took me around the island on my first night. Bamboo tents playing reggae music alternated with empty, pearly beaches. A welcome oasis after the smog-filled streets of Java. The touristy atmosphere of the tiny island is well compensated by its extremely hospitable natives, the absence of motor vehicles and laid back mood.

This is it then. A mixture of fear and excitement gathers in my stomach and soon races through the rest of my body. I take my seat on the edge of the boat, cross my legs, put one hand behind my head, the other over my regulator and let myself fall backwards into the sea. For a moment, up is down and vice versa.

During the descent, Joe, my instructor, looks me deep in the eyes. ‘Are you ok?’ I’m not. Half way down my ears hurt like crazy. Anxiety is getting to me. Without words, Joe tells me to stop being a pussy.

Complete weightlessness. I’m floating one foot above the bottom of the sea. Tiny, colorful fishes surround me and I cannot stop watching. I have to control my excitement: Deep, controlled breaths… The ocean’s surface is high above me like a glittery ceiling.  Visions of me as a five year old playing mermaid in the bathtub flash by. I’m on cloud nine.

It takes a while before I  establish the perfect amount of air in my jacket which makes me float gently in the soft current. There’s a reef dooming up in front of us. A whole new world is forming: vivid colors in an uncountable number of shapes, covered in thousands of the brightest fish in any color you can image. The first rule in diving, well ok, except for the safety rules preventing you from dying, is to NEVER TOUCH ANYTHING. Afraid to do so, I fly above the gorgeous scenes; breathless. Joe turns around with excited eyes, pointing out something in front of him: A turtle! Chill as can be it seems to enjoy the corraly delicacies. I cannot get enough.

With the first gap of fresh air in the world above, I realize I forgot about my ears completely, even though they still hurt like hell.

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