Saturday, June 12, 2010

Such is the wonderful nature of scuba diving

The pictures and videos from the last diving trip have captivated me so much that I’ve neglected writing about the little adventure from which those entrancing images resulted. I’m finally getting around to putting together another post—this very one as a matter of fact.

Less than a week before we were due to leave again for the magnificent waters off Mindoro I came down with a head and chest cold, not something one wants while trying to scuba dive. I took every drug I could find to get ahead of the symptoms and to an extent it worked. As long as I was on the medicine my cough was suppressed and my drip was dried. Still, I knew my inner ears were going to be a problem at depth. The clearer the sinuses and Eustachian tubes are, the easier it is to equalize the air pressure in there as the water pressure increases the deeper one goes. But, even without the inconvenience of the cold, getting my ears to equalize in water deeper than a few feet is something that I’ve had a problem with in the past few years, and actually, as far back as I can remember.

On the day we left, most of my upper respiratory symptoms were tamped down to the point that I could almost convince myself that the cold was done; but when fluid came from my nose after waiting a bit too long between cold capsules I knew it was still lurking in there. I popped another pill and hoped for the best.

The first day at the resort I spent snorkeling, no scuba at all. My dive mentor and partner drove his SUV and could not arrive until much later in the day. Without him I cannot dive and wouldn’t want to. This time he also brought along another fellow who hadn’t dived since the mid-90s, and so he needed to get re-familiarized. With two of us at the basic level I figured it would be best if only one of us at a time went down with our master diver. It wouldn’t be smart to divide his attention.

I spent hours that first day investigating the water along the cliff face that began at the far end of the hotel. The water had been way too rough the previous trip to venture out in that direction. Surging waves combined with sharp coral boulders do not mix well with swimmers. But now, that area of shoreline was still and practically wave free, with just enough slap to give the surface a slight ripple.

Within a few minutes of exploration I was taken with the thousands of tiny green and blue fish that swam in the warm top waters in their giant shimmering schools among the huge boulders. Even without those pulsing hordes of endless fish the view of the underwater geologic formations would have been enough to keep me enamored. The play of light and water among the towering submerged stones caused me to take one picture after another. I have never seen anything like it.

What I also found attractive was the relatively deep depth of the water right immediately where the water meets the shore; although it’s not really a shore, it more a massive jumble of colossal stones, piled atop each other as if by some gigantic careless child. The randomness of nature has always been a major source of pleasure for me and that’s exactly what I witnessed. It was stunningly beautiful. I couldn’t wait to explore the whole length of it in scuba gear. Although it was beautiful seeing it floating along the surface, how much more so would it be viewing it from 20 feet down, or from whatever depth I desired? Within the next few days I would find out.

Such is the wonderful nature of scuba diving—the freedom one has to be able to see what you want from whatever depth you want. As long as I could get a handle on the stupid cold I knew it was going to be incredible. Disappointment was NOT in the plan. . .

Hint: Click on each of the pictures above to be able to truly appreciate them in their full glory. You won't be sorry.


Ed said...

I'm kicking myself hard for going this long in my life without learning to SCUBA dive. Breath taking pictures.

PhilippinesPhil said...

I waited even longer than you Ed. And as far as pictures, you ain't seen nothing yet...