Under The Sea

Five weeks and one day ago, I was a passenger in a single-car accident in Cape Point Nature Reserve.

Four weeks and one day ago, I started a scuba diving course that has changed my entire life.

Two days ago, I finally made it back to Johannesburg – without the car – a month after I said I would be here, to spend Christmas with family that 9 weeks ago I had only just met.

It’s been quite the trip!

You already know about the first four weeks, being perhaps more diligent in your reading than I’ve been in my writing.  The truth is, I’ve been intermittently extremely busy and exhausted and pretty frustrated and lonely over the last month, and frustrated and lonely does not make for very good writing.

Lisa left on the morning of the 18th, and I pretty much spent the next few days getting my bearings in a suburb I had barely been in with a car, without a car.  I made a few important and interesting discoveries: there was a pharmacy next door that sold meagre food supplies, 3 restaurants within walking distance and a small internet cafe/ink refilling/computer shop that was open Monday-Friday.  I could, in fact, walk to ‘town’ without getting mugged, raped, beaten or killed (though this was only in the daylight hours) and the grocery store was no more of a hike than it had been in Glasgow and Greece (though this proved to be a rather foolish idea as someone did get mugged at that intersection one day).

All in all, I was somewhat content to wait for what I rather naively thought would be a week or so for the car to get all fixed up.  On the 19th I was headed to see Robbie at the internet cafe and check how the outside world was doing when I veered into the Bubble Blowers Dive Shop where Windlass Way met Sandown Road at the traffic circle.  I rang the doorbell and was greeted by a very nice man and two enormous dogs.  Steve (the man) and Captain and Shadow (the dogs – Great Danes), were all very helpful, as was Brandon, the shirtless and shoeless proprietor.

“I was wondering if you have an Open Water course coming up?  I did a DSD in Umkomaas a couple of weeks ago . . .”

“Sure we do!  When can you start?”

“Um, today?  I’m kind of stranded here . . .”

“How about Tuesday?  Part-time or full-time?”

“Full-time, I literally have nothing else to do.”

“Great! Tuesday, 9:30, bring a snack . . . what did you say your name was? . . .”

Within about 5 minutes it was all settled, in 5 days I would start my Open Water course and spend 4 days with Steve in the pool and the ocean and be a PADI Open Water Diver.

I spent those five days trying to keep myself busy sleeping, lying by the pool, going for a run, eating, shopping (remember the safe-at-the-time walk to the grocery store?), walking into town to Skype with the parents and sister, going to church and reading chapters 1-3 in their entirety of my dive manual.

November 23rd morning finally arrived and I was at the dive shop promptly at 9:30.  One of the first people I saw that day was Pete, Brandon’s son, mechanical and welding whiz, lover of all things trance and a very interesting 19 year old.  Case in point, our first conversation:

Pete: “Hi.  What do you think about guys with hairy nipples?”

“Ummmmmm . . . I dunno . . .”

“I mean like really hairy nipples . . . does it bother you?”

“Ummmm, I guess not?”

“Oh . . . ok.  Steve! . . . .” and off he ran.

Allllriiight . . . so this will be an interesting experience!

A couple hours watching the incredibly corny yet informative PADI dvds and then the afternoon in the pool made for a pretty rewarding and happily full day.  The mystery of putting together one’s diving kit that I had seen in Umkomaas only a few weeks before was carefully and clearly explained to me – it’s not actually rocket science!  Ok, so maybe it wasn’t so easy that first day, but 4 weeks, 5 or so pool dives, and 20 ocean dives later it’s like tying your shoelace.

The underwater world is truly an amazing place.  The things that you can see there are of such perfection of nature it’s almost impossible to describe with words.  I’ve always loved the sea, the ocean, large bodies of water.  When I lived in Glasgow I felt lost because I couldn’t see, smell or taste the sea, and never really figured out which direction it was in.  Greece was completely the opposite and the Mediterranean sunrise greeted me every morning through my patio doors.  I’ve really missed the water over the last decade . . . My family used to go to Shady Lagoon in Osoyoos every summer and sail and go tubing and water skiing and knee boarding . . . then we stopped heading up there but I started rowing, and spent a lot of time on the water over the next four years.  Since I graduated from high school though, spending time at the beach or on the water has been a luxury of time that I haven’t been able to afford, or maybe haven’t made room for.  I’m fairly certain that I’m not going to let it slip away again.  Diving is something that is done the world over . . . and now that I’ve had a taste of what there is to see under the water, I’m going to do my best to work it into my travel plans from here on out.  I always said I wanted to see the world, the whole world, and that now includes what’s under the sea.

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