I took a ship to Europe after I graduated from college. I went with my best friend from high school. It was a student ship, which I don’t think they have anymore, so it was not fancy – but it was still an adventure and fun for me. But it was not fun for my traveling companion, who spent most of the trip leaning over the railing of the ship, very seasick. That’s how I discovered that I don’t get seasick, which is a good thing. It is especially good because about 25 years after that boat trip to Europe, my husband and I took up scuba diving. It is a distinct disadvantage to be a seasick scuba diver, although there are some. They even teach you what to do, if you are sick underwater, but I won’t go in to that.
Anyway, as scuba divers for 16 years, we spent many hours on all sizes of boats – we even lived on dive boats for some trips, and we dived in the waters of Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Belize, Bonaire and Honduras. It is hard for me to say which trip was my favorite, but if I have to pick which country had the best diving, I would say Indonesia. We went there three times.
On one trip in 2003, we lived on a very remote small Indonesian island at a resort called Wakatobi. To get to the resort, people had to take 24 hours of ferry rides. But the owners of the resort built an airplane runway and started flying divers to the island about two years before we went. We traveled with a group of divers from Tucson, flying from Tucson to LA, then to Hong Kong, then to Bali and finally to Wakatobi. We were a group of 12 divers and we joined 18 other people from all over the world at the resort. The diving was beautiful and we saw many fish and animals that we had never seen before. We dove from boats that could handle 15-20 divers per boat.
However, the best thing about this resort was its location on an amazing coral reef. So we could just go outside the front door of the resort and dive whenever we wanted to. We could also take small motor boats up or down the reef from the resort. The direction of the current determined which direction we would go in the boat. We wanted to dive with the current, so it would take us back to the resort. Usually we would dive in a group with a dive master, but this was one time when we could just dive by ourselves. What freedom! So my husband and I would get into the little boat and be driven up the reef. We would do a back roll out of the boat and then we would drift back to the resort. Drift diving is really fun because you can just relax and let the current do the work. It’s fun until the current starts going too fast or it dips up or down unexpectedly. We have experienced all those situations, but at Wakatobi the current was just right. My memories of floating along that beautiful reef are magical.
While Wakatobi was wonderful, I think my very favorite dive, of the 300+ dives I took in the years we dove, was one in another part of Indonesia called Lembeh Strait. We liked this place so much that we went there in 1996 and in 2005. I had wonderful and exciting dives in Lembeh Strait, and the best was one where I dove with cuttlefish. I had heard that they are very intelligent animals and that you can communicate with them by hand signs. On this dive, there were several big cuttlefish and one seemed to connect with me. I spent time giving him or her hand signs as we swam around. I’m not sure that I really communicated with him, but we did stay together for most of the dive. I was so enthralled with the cuttlefish, that I totally ignored the rest of the divers who went on without me. At the end of the dive, they came back to get me and I was still there with the cuttlefish. I had to say goodbye and join my human companions going back to the boat. That cuttlefish will remain with me in my memory for the rest of my life.