The last week has been a dream come true for us. We have been guiding a group of nine Korean divers through the blue playground. They are a happy and excitable bunch. Our euphoria should be coming from the superb diving and invigoration of leading our own dives, but in reality its the inexhaustible supply of candy the Koreans brought with them.
Their experience levels vary significantly. Two of them are recreational dive instructors, one is a technical instructor, 3 are intermediate, and 3 have just finished their Open Water courses. We take them diving in two groups, but instead of breaking them up by experience as we would usually do, they have opted for mixed groups. This means Val and I have to fulfill the needs of the new and elite divers simultaneously. All of them want to see incredible things. Most of them don’t speak English well, so we must communicate on land the same way we do underwater. They are diving with us for 7 days. These are our first real days on the job.
Dive One was a bit of a nightmare. Nun, Val and I decided to do a check out dive at a site with a sandy bottom. The site was perfect because there isn’t much marine life to damage. The new divers really struggled. As they flailed they sent up clouds of sand from the bottom, making it impossible divers behind them to see, or us to see them. As we surfacec Nun and Val shot me a glance, this is not what we’d hoped for. Komodo isn’t an easy place to dive and the best sites are demanding. I met Val and Nun in the wheel house and we began reformulating our itinerary.
Our next few hours underwater were spent at easy dive sites. The new divers are improved quickly. The Korean instructors playfully demanded that the new divers do skill drills. It began looking like we’d get to dive the best of Komodo after all.
On the boat the Koreans continually coaxed us into trying their food. The nine person group packed 3 full-sized suitcases of snacks from Korea. They insisted we try everything, and of course they met a lot of resistance. What a preposterous idea! Yeah right, we accepted everything with immense satisfaction. It was a welcome change from the white rice and plain fish diet.
We had a great time trekking on Rinca Island to seeing the Komodo Dragons. These giant lizards were the area’s original claim to fame. Shortly after WWI an aircraft crashed here, the pilot survived and swam to Komodo Island, where he found a big surprise. To this day these animals are impressive. They are quite deadly. The grow up to 10ft (3m) long and can weigh up to 160 lbs (70kg). Their venom is extremely mild but their bite is still deadly because of the intense bacteria that is transferred. They only live on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, and West Flores. They bite large prey, like water buffalo, wait 2 weeks for the prey to die, then use their scent to locate the carcass, which can be up to 5 kilometers away. They eat once a month and prefer rotten flesh… yum.
It feels good to be doing what we came here to do. Guiding was just a necessary task when we envisioned our course, but it is actually very rewarding. The needs of this group require our full bag of tricks, but we’re making it work and everyone is safe and having a great time, including us. We may be good at this after all.