It’s January 2011 and Val and I have been in Komodo, Indonesia for six months. Today we guided four Ukrainians and a Czech through the aptly named Manta Point dive site. I vividly remember our first dives at this site. I would marvel at Nun, our most experienced divemaster, spotting mantas from seemingly impossible distances and think “how the hell does he do it? I’ll never be able to do that.” Well, now I’m the one chasing the invisible phantoms into the blue and the customers are asking me for the number of my eye doctor, things change.
The mantas are huge, some over 15’ wing to wing. We saw roughly a dozen today. They glide along majestically whether the water is still or a river of current. It’s like watching a movie in slow motion, from the inside out. We’ve seen hundreds of mantas now but it never gets old, they are always impressive. Only slightly less life-affirming is looking over at the faces of our divers whose minds are being blown before your eyes. I’m so glad we came to Komodo, I can scarcely express how much I love this place.
Our second dive was at Tatawa Besar. It’s ironic that it took me so long to learn to guide this site given how easy a dive it is. Conditions were great today. There were no sharks today, or our favorite octopus, just a few turtles and a kaleidoscope of fish and coral. I didn’t point out much but I didn’t really need too. Sometimes you’re meant to just relax down there and let the world pass by, and it’s wonderful.
Val and I kept the bow of the boat for ourselves on the return journey. We stretched out and fell in and out of sleep. As the sun beat down I remembered how much my grandfather loved sit in the sun. He’d be out there for hours, just sitting, “it’s good for your health,” he’d say. His advice had slipped away over the years but for some reason it returned today. He was about as far from a practitioner of Eastern zen as it gets but I now realize the man meditated, in his own way.
Back on dry land we moved the tanks, sorted the gear, and arranged things for tomorrow. So now here I sit, looking out over the harbor, my view partially blocked by a 22 oz bottle of cold beer and my fingers slowly painting out my distilled thoughts. Val is still downstairs at work, she always has been the responsible one. Any minute though she’ll walk up the stairs and be met by a grinning man lit up by the glow of his laptop screen and then I’ll be finished writing…
Happy New Year everyone, from both above and below. It’s going to be a great year.