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Imagine part 1
Imagine part 1
Imagine a day that goes something like this:
You wake up in the morning in a comfortable bed in the tropics. The day, you know promises to be hot, but you also know that where you are going the heat will be welcome. You wrap a sarong around yourself and head to the kitchen for coffee and a light breakfast.
Out the sliding glass doors you see that the wind is down, and you think, “good; so will the sea’s be”.
Others are stirring now, coming out of their rooms dressed much like you. You notice that someone had awakened before you- one of the guys- and is now at the boat loading gear. You decide to join him; getting anxious to be under way.
When you reach the dock you say, “No wind”, and he looks up and smiles replying, “Ought to be fantastic”.
He is on the boat stowing gear, and you begin to hand him what remains on the dock. As you do so you run through the mental checklist, ticking off each item as you work; tanks, regulators, BC’s, weights, masks, wet-suits, fins...
The others are coming down now; your love is carrying the personal gear- towels, sun screen, cameras, etcetera- as is one of the others. The last two are carrying between them the cooler full of water, juice, snacks, and for the ride home; cold beer.
The activity around you has taken on a new intensity. Still relaxed casual, but more focused; the anticipation of the sea has taken the group. The motor starts and you man the bow line, awaiting the signal to cast off. You get the nod, and immediately toss the line into the boat. Placing one foot on the gunnel, you push off with the other, and carefully step over the rail and down into the boat. You settle down on the cushioned seat and relax into the feeling of being under way.
After a fifteen minute ride through inland waters, you reach open ocean. You scan the horizon and see to your satisfaction, that there are no boats near you. You carefully stand, and release your sarong, letting it fall to the floor of the boat. Under it you have on nothing else. The others follow you, and soon there are six sarong’s similarly piled on the deck. All are now standing, holding some part of the boat with one hand, the other raised in the breeze; happy content smiles their only adornment.
You look appreciatively at the bodies of your companions. You catch the eye of your love, and see appreciation there as well. A week of daily ocean excursions has bronzed each persons body into an almost idealized version of themselves. There is one woman in the group who’s smooth black skin has taken on an otherworldly glow.
Everyone is sitting again, beginning to sort through their gear. You look over the bow of the boat toward the approaching dive sight. “Good”, you think; because the other dive boats are clumped together at the south end of the reef. You will have no need to get into your wetsuit before you get to your destination; the ‘City of Washington’ ship wreak.
The boat is now tied in to the mooring buoy, making a gentle lapping sound in the calm water, and you make your way to the stern to throw out the dive ball. You toss it overboard and watch to see what kind of current there is. It drifts gently aft indicating little to none. You look down into the azure waters of the southern Atlantic, and see that- much as you had hoped- the water is crystal clear.
The flag is up, the ladder is down, the boat is prepared to be abandoned. Your companions are in their wetsuits and are preparing to get into their BC’s. You move forward, to clear the way for them, and to get into your wetsuit.
There is a splash followed quickly by another as the first couple roll off the stern of the boat. You look back and see that the second couple are in the final stages of preparation. It is time to lend a hand, so you grab the few bits of gear you have not yet put on, and head aft. You and your love each help one of the two remaining into their BC’s, perform a buddy check, assist in getting them into position, and with a smile and a wave they are gone.
Now it is just you and your love. You have been diving together enough to know exactly when and what kind of help you each need, and with easy efficiency you are ready to depart the surface world. With a quick check behind you, you roll back and with a splash enter the water. There is a moments disorientation which clears quickly as the warm waters envelope you like a lost memory of the womb.
As you descend your love swims to your side and takes your hand, and together you fall toward the ocean floor. About ten feet from the bottom you inflate your BC and slowly your descent is arrested. You are now hovering three feet over the reef, taking note of formations around you and checking the position of the boat above you. Once oriented you swim off to find the octopus you are going to attempt to photograph today.
Along the way you pass the lair of the large-ish Green Moray you photographed a few days ago, and see that he is poking his head out in his curious way. You smile, remembering how your love had tantalized him out of his hole with bits of cut up squid, and how surprisingly docile he was when handled. Your lifelong image of the Green Moray as a wicked predator forever altered by this encounter.
You reach the pilot house, search for and find the hunk of torn-up metal laying near the northeast corner of what remained of the hundred year old structure. Under it- you were told the other day- you could hope to find a good sized octopus. With luck, it would come right out and crawl up your arm. Today it is your turn to entice the sea life into photographic poses.
Before you even reach the metal sheet, you see that luck is going to be with you, for out from under a low overhang you see a single eye sitting atop what looks like the lower lip of a hippopotamus. As you approach, the other eye appears, and soon one, then another, and finally all eight tentacles have emerged. You see a flash, and hear the high pitched ring of the flash capacitor recharging, and think, “Good, at least there will be one shot”.
Time to attempt a close up. You reach your gloved hand out and stir up the sand just in front of the octopus. It retreats just a little, but then gathers courage and slings a single tentacle over your hand. The tricky part now is to keep still, (not an easy task while floating in the ocean) for if you even twitch it will be gone in the blink of an eye. You manage, and suddenly it crawls/swims right up your arm to your shoulder. You look to your love and Flash! The camera goes off. The octopus gets on your head and Flash! Another picture. Then it is gone... you look around but it has disappeared like a dream.
Wonder is all you feel as you smile around your mouthpiece. You high five each other and, still smiling, head back to the boat. As you reach the boat and begin ascending to the fifteen foot safety stop you see the legs of one of the couples just leaving the water. A sense of anticipation grips you as you ponder the telling of your story. You know, that the others will have stories to tell as well, and that the adventures of the day have just begun.
As you reach the surface and climb the ladder, you look forward and see that the other couples have both arrived before you, removed and stowed their gear, striped off their wetsuits, and were now washing each other off with the fresh water shower. You look around and see the other dive boats have left, and smile as one of the others comes to help you remove your tank and BC. As they stow this, you take off your mask and fins, and wipe the inevitable snot from your face. (Salt water entering the nasal passage is a fantastic decongestant, an effect which once upon a time caused you some embarrassment) As you begin to stand you feel someone unzipping your wetsuit. This is new.
It is always easier to get a wet wetsuit off with the aid of another. So far on this trip, each couple had assisted their other half in doing so. Now, it is apparent, a point of comfort with each other has been gained. A thrill passes through you; thoughts of your dive momentarily forgotten. You look over your shoulder to see your love is being similarly treated. Your eyes meet and an unspoken acknowledgment passes between you. You look at the other couples and can tell by the intensity of their looks they have reached the same conclusion.
Your wetsuit is striped the rest of the way off and you are left standing naked, shivering slightly in the rising breeze. You and your love are escorted to the shower and washed down. You close your eyes and feel anonymous hands scrubbing the salt from your body. The water shuts off and you are handed a towel.
As you dry your self you notice the second wave of commercial boats are on their way to this sight. You sigh a resigned but content sigh, knowing that what is looking to be a great adventure will have a short intermission...