It’s so still. So quiet. So calm. No matter what is happening in life, once you sink below the waves it all disappears.
Diving. I love it more than life. It never ceases to amaze yet there’s only one thing to do…breathe.
Today is an exciting day because I booked my 71st dive trip and it will be an entirely new adventure, almost like a new sport this time around. I’m about to cold water dive for the first time ever!
Moving from tropical diving to cold water diving has been described as driving an automatic your whole life and then being given the keys to a stick shift. Eep! … Yay!!!
Historically, I have been a tropical diver. Here are a few of the spots I’ve had the privilege to explore:
I learned to dive in Thailand.
I remember training in the pool and the instructor telling us to put in our regulators (what allows you to breathe), sink under water and take a breath. So I put the regulator in my mouth and head under. After holding my breath for as long as I could, I pop right back up.
I just couldn’t bring myself to take a breath…I imagined my lungs filling with water and…well, you get the idea.
The instructor surfaces and asks what the problem is. I tell him quite bluntly that people can’t breath under water. He laughs in my face. Then he looks me in the eye and says, “Yeah they can. It’s kinda the point of the sport. Now let’s go.”
When I finally took that first breath under water I was hooked. Now when I pop in my regulator, I don’t care if I ever see the surface again.
The Great Barrier Reef
Diving on the Great Barrier Reef had serious highs and soul crushing lows.
Full disclosure: I LOVE TURTLES. Along one part of the GBR where we dove, there was a ‘turtle cleaning station’; a place where tons of bottom-feeding, dirt-sucking fish hang out. Turtles come by with dirty shells and these fish clamp on and start eating all the algae that has built up on the shells.
There is one particular turtle – famous to local divers – who has caught on to the fact that people also hangout here and, in becoming climatized to humans, has realized people’s finger nails clean faster and feel great! I floated with a turtle for several minutes, scratching his back and swimming around each other. Magic.
The Galapagos Islands was my most incredible dive experience.
The untouched reef is teeming with life. Every dive has sharks and seals and turtles, not to mention the gorgeous reef itself and the unbelievably alien fish, coral and fauna.
It was during a break between dives that I went snorkelling along a beach filled with seals. The babies jumped in the water and started playing with me; grabbing my fins with their teeth and pulling me around and diving and swimming all around me. It was unbelievable!!!
Unbeknownst to me, momma seal had slipped into the water and made her presence known with a long, loud, scary growl and then I saw her. She was HUGE. So I turned and swam as fast as I could back to the boat where my dive team was leaning over the side of the boat yelling after me to swim faster.
Totally worth it. It was truly an experience I will never forget.
While mainland Egypt struggled with their newfound democracy and attempted to select – for the first time in history – their first president, I lived on board a boat in the Red Sea.
Diving 3-4 times a day, I toured around the Sinai Peninsula for a full week. On this trip I was able to do what I love and protect it at the same time by joining the Reef Check team. Reef Check is an international non-profit dedicated to the conservation of tropical coral reefs.
Our groups of marine biologists and dive volunteers counted fish and measured coral to understand the health of the reef. I was so happy to be diving and ecstatic to being helping the underwater world that I love.
So Many Stories…
Obviously, I could write about diving forever: the epic cave diving in Cozumel, Mexico; how the weather screwed Leigh and I out of diving the Bay of Pigs in Cuba; being surrounded by countless sharks in the incredible Blue Hole in Belize.
The moral of the story (in case you couldn’t guess): diving makes me happy.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Help take care of the oceans by not eating endangered species (turtle soup eaters, I will personally come after you) and using minimally packaged, environmentally friendly products wherever possible (it all ends up in the ocean eventually). Thank you!