Safe, Sound, and Happy

Hey Everyone,

The internet has been a bit dodgy.  We were completely unaffected by the Earthquakes near Padang, and equally unaffected by the earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in American Somoa – which were over 600 and many thousands of miles away respectively.

We completed our PADI Rescue Diver Certification last week – which means we now have nothing standing between us and our Divemaster Course except the desire for lots of fun diving and an ample break from course work.

Yesterday we dove Panaputoeng, which is probably the best dive site on the island and one of the best in the world.  I should say Val dove it because a Frenchman and myself arrived at the “fuck this” moment at the same time as we battled a severe current to reach the site.  As Fabian (the cursing Frenchman) and myself surfaced, Val and Valentina (our Chilean Divemaster) waged an epic battle with a vengeful current.  Holding on with both hands they summoned the courage to move from clinging point to clinging point – rewarded with schools of jacks (10 – 30 lbs fish fish numbering in the thousands) and Barracuda.  Also seen were giant travelley – some over 200 lbs, and sea fans (a type of coral) the size of queen sized matresses.  Fabian and I did enjoy our own school of Barracuda before surfacing.

We then dove Arus Baleh, which means “bastard current” in Acehenese.  For most of the dive the current was mild and pleasent and brought us schools of delicious looking Bluefin Tuna as well as thousands of other fish of all varieties.  Towards the end of the dive though we again found ourselves clinging to rocks and even experienced our first down current – which has obvious negative implications.  In all though we managed just fine and had a great, albiet anything but relaxing, day of diving.

The day before we dove the Canyon, which had simply stunning coral and topography.  It is also notorious for having crazy current but we caught it with none.  Welcome to Pulau Weh – land of the sometimes dangerous and always unpredictable currents.

Perhaps the highlight so far was diving Batee Takong.  This is a grouping of rocks that barely stick out above the surface of the water.  The strong currents and seemingly strategic location brings rich nutrients and fantastic wildlife, making Batee Takong a magnet for diving.  As soon as we were under the surface thousands of blue Seargent Major fish greated us, as did a magnifacent turtle.  Mutantly large pufferfish and angelfish were soon to follow.  As we admired the scenery moral eels, some massive, admired us with their trademark toothy grins.  Around every corner a new wonder emerged, from tiny nudibranch (which are the flamboyantly colored marine equivalent of a land slug) to a large black tip reef shark.  This is what we came for and we had to clear our mask of water countless times, not because our masks were faulty but because we would break the seal with large smiles.  We could each make a case for this being the most beautiful hour of our lives.

For now we are taking a couple of well earned days off.  We love you all and suggest that in the event that there is another concerning emergency that you contact your nearest Val or Scotty parent as they will have the most up to date information.

-Scotty and Val

Proud PADI Rescue Divers

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Scott Dusek is a writer and photography originally from Seattle, Washingon.