At peace. That’s how I feel when I am underwater. Fishes swimming. Plants swaying to the swell of the ocean. Weightless. With only my air bubbles to tell me which way is up.
Outside of the water, I’m awkward. I don’t know what I want in life. I forgot something. Where am I going? Its too much to think about. Diving is much easier.
My parents phoned me with hesitations in their voice. I imagine they think I’m venturing into Somalian pirated waters or something. Danger lurking over each wave. Is it safe? Where will you be? Is there cell service?
Yes, its safe. In the middle of nowhere. No connections to civilization whatsoever. No need to worry.
The Smiling Seahorse
MV Thai Sea – my home for the next 5 days. The owner, Frank, works as the dive instructor on the boat, and his wife does the business side. It’s a nice and small independent diving operation. The boat has room for 12 guests, with a ratio of 4 divers to one divemaster/instructor.
At first, I have my hesitations. I get on the boat and its French. Like Tres Tres Tres French. All the other divers minus one other diver- Choy, are French. Queue La Vie en Rose please.
Le Bienvenue speech. The Suisse dive instructor (Julien) translates. I’m somewhat irritated. My spoiled Americanness kicks in. Why can’t everyone just speak English. Then I think about Trump and realize I’m being stupid. Relax.
The first night I’m a little cranky and shy, so I take some seasickness pills and go to sleep.
The next morning I wake up to the sound of “630! Dive briefing!”
I put on my swim suit and a shirt dress and head to the back of the boat. We form our groups and prepare for diving. Each day will follow this schedule -Dive. Eat Breakfast. Sleep. Dive. Eat Lunch. Sleep. Dive. Eat a snack. Relax. Dive. Eat Dinner. Drink.
A day later, I start warming up to my new French family. We exchange stories about all our travels and drink Richard, the drink of the Bordeaux French men. It’s Licorice tasting madness. The 4 divers in their mid 50’s traveling sans wives brought a huge bottle of Richard for all to drink. The perfect recipe for laughter and fun. After some shots of Rum, a dance party with flashing lights forms on the top deck.
By the third day, all my stupid American prejudice about the French boat are gone. We exchange stories of the fish we see underwater while eating all the delicious treats the Thai team cooks for us. One day banana fritters and ice cream. Next Day, crepes with fruit.
Night falls and we jump in for another night dive. I float around flashing my light at fishes. A lonely barracuda passes by. I name him Mr.B. Mr.B is rather curious and swims towards me. Maybe a little too close. At first it feels fun, but now its makes me uneasy. Circling me, I can feel his irritation.
My heart rate is up. I’m afraid to shine my light into the darkness. I’m unsure if I want to see Mr.B staring back at me. I swim over to my guide and hope that Mr.B disappears.
Moments later, Choy swims up next to me and Julian. He’s rubbing his shoulder. Forming a fist into a palm, Choy signals to me that a barracuda shoulder checked him. Or at least that’s what I interpret. It must be Mr.B. Like 2 young kids afraid to cross the street, we stay close to Julien and look both ways before swimming ahead.
Not seeing Mr.B anywhere, I start doing my own thing again. Rock here. Fish there. Mr.B. … WHAT? I quickly flash my light somewhere else. Swimming away, scared.
A minute passes. I see a distant light shaking frantically. I swim over and Choy signals to me that he sees Mr.B again. We stay close together and search the seas. No sign of an imminent attack.
The dive ends and we pop up to the surface. Instantly we are two kids chatting to Julien about this barracuda. Julien laughs.
I have to laugh at myself. Like what is this fish going to do to me? I have a knife for Christ sake. A big knife. One slice and its sashimi time.
The rest of the dives, we kept an eye out for Mr. B, but he must have found someone else to punk. Instead we saw more seahorses, octopus, puffer fish, and angel fish. Each time we circle reefs the song of the little mermaid pops into my head. The schools of fish seem to freeze at times. Every clown fish is named Nemo. Every blue angel fish is named Dory.
Unable to explain the vastness of the sea, I’ll use my video to show my the rest of my trip experiences from under the sea:
Special Thanks to Luc for his photos and video. Thanks to Smiling Seahorse for providing such a great experience!