Monday, January 17, 2011

17/01/11 A Week to Remember

We all arrived at the Cap Ternay base fresh-faced and excited as children; not knowing exactly what to expect, but expecting to have the experience of a lifetime.Our first sightof the base was a panoramic view from high on a cliff, filled with great, looming palm trees and pristine, aquamarine waters. The second sight we had was of the base itself: two-storey buildings with large, airy rooms; hammocks swinging peacefully from every tree; and, of course, the happy, tanned people who call the Cap Ternay base their home. Whatever I had expected before I got here, it was not nearly as nice as the real thing.

Not only is the base wonderful, but the dives have been spectacular as well. The first dive we went on was a skill-testing dive, where we performed basic tasks underwater, and then finished it off with a relaxing swim over the reef to look at all the exotic, colourful fish. Fish, I might add, that we did not know the names of before we got here. I’m proud to say I can now name almost all the butterflyfish I see underwater, as well as all the angelfish! Go me! The visibility on that dive wasn’t great, but it’s gotten so much better since then. The skills were fairly easy, as well, except for when I forgot that, even when your mask is off, you still can’t breathe through your nose underwater, and had sinuses full of salt water for the rest of the day. It wasn’t that bad, though. Actually, it sort of cleared them out. Like nature’s nose spray.

Anyway, the dives just got better and better from there. The second dive was another skill dive, where we had to swim through quadrats and hover, among other things. We did not, however, have to do a front flip, which is what I thought Grace meant when she was actually telling me to use my breath for buoyancy control. I guess I have to brush up on my sign language… I’ll bet you, though, that it was the best underwater front flip of the dive! And those smiles I saw on everyone’s faces were surely in approval instead of mocking.That dive was a bit hectic, but so much fun. After all our hovering and front-flipping was done, we got to, again, swim over the reef. That was, of course, the best part. We saw Emperor Angelfish, Indian RedfinButterflyfish, and lots of Soldierfish, among others. My favourite underwater creature so far has to be the little animal that shrinks in to itself when you touch it or send a burst of water at it. I feel a bit badly for scaring it sometimes, but then I remember that it probably doesn’t have a brain, and I feel much better.

All in all, it’s been an amazing few days. Almost a week now actually. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long at all; the days go by so quickly. At the same time, though, it feels like we’ve been doing this forever. We’reall having a great time bonding: lounging on the hammocks together; Emma and Christo play guitars while Corinne hula-hoops like a fiend; Dan performs circus tricks; and everyone regales each other with tales of their days, and their past wild adventures. In 10 weeks, I’m sure that we’ll all be thick as thieves, and like a second family to one another. It’s such a wonderful place, with such wonderful people, that I’m surprised anyone could ever bring themselves to leave.It’s not just the people on base, either; the locals are great, too. All of the ones I’ve met have been incredibly friendly, and they all wave to me when I walk by, which really makes me feel at home. It’s a lot of work, but with a great reward: the chance to dive every day at one of the greatest dive spots in the world.I look forward to the many weeks ahead.