Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Transition

I know I’m overdoing these posts, but I can’t help it.

There’s nothing more insecure than falling backwards. Weighted down with equipment and awkwardly duck legged. Perch on the edge of the boat, fingers up against the reg and mask and roll over the side, backwards.

There’s a brief fear as the world turns upside down but then the deep blue of the water takes you as it rushes up and the reassuring hiss of the regulator delivers air to your hurried breath. And you know the next 30 minutes to an hour, 13 meters down or 30 are going to bring you sights you have never seen and never will again.

I used to be scared of the backroll, an irrational fear that weighted down I would sink straight to the bottom of the ocean.

But now it’s mostly what I look forward to.

That grand bleu rush...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Neutral Buoyancy Nirvana

After the personal buoyancy seesaw of the previous dive I did something I had been having an inkling for a while that might work. I took one of the grey leaden weights off the belt.

The result was a breathtaking nirvana. Initially I thought I had fucked up because as J moved down the nylon line disappearing into the big blue, I had issues getting myself to sink. Remembering S’s words, I arched, hugged the BC and pressed the release valve to get all the last vestiges of air out of it. The descent was one of the most controlled that I’ve ever had.

A quick burst into the BC at 23 meters (which incidentally according to Pissu is about 7 stories under water…who knew?....gulp) and I was beautifully buoyant. The feeling was exhilarating and it was all I could do not to whoot! into my regulator as I finally found freedom below the ocean.

Swooping and swirling over the reef, breathing out deep to sink down and check out a moray in a cave apparently being given a shave by a couple of shrimps, smaller breaths out to cautiously lower myself next to a blackspot electric ray under an overhang and controlled breaths in to rise over a dip in the reef.

Pure bliss, this neutral buoyancy nirvana.

The safety stop was beautiful, instead of my usual yo-yoing in the water as I pump air in and out of my BC, which drives my dive computer up the wall. I hovered with minimal adjustments to the BC and my breathing and surfaced oh ever so smoothly after one of the best I’ve ever had.

Today was a significant step forward and I have an uncontrollable itch to keep going down into that deep blue.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning to Fly

R yelled over, ‘it’s a water snake’ as we clambered over to the rocks where he was pocking around with his reptile catching stick (please do check that link for a shot of a ‘pretty girl catching a snake.’ I shit you not).

As a word of explanation, S and I were in Sinharaja along with a bunch of peeps and R was one of the newly met said peeps, who was very into his wildlife. Hence why he toted the reptile catching stick everywhere.

Now I have seen water snakes before, a generally shy, slim brown creature with languid eyes that looked like it couldn’t hurt a fly. Finally getting to where R was near a rock pool into which a waterfall rolled into, R informed us that the snake had retreated into a hole amongst some rocks and he was going to get the guide to roll a rock down so we could get a good look at the critter. S and I eagerly agreed and made sure our cameras were on.

The guide rolled the rock…and then things moved on quite rapidly.

The snake came gliding out.

And it wasn’t brown or slim or exceptionally languid.

Instead it was black and white striped with a virulently red tail. It all but roared as it came out mouth agape straight towards me. I noted all this with some interest of course and came to the rapid conclusion that:
a) R got the ID wrong, I have no idea what this snake is…but it looks poisonous.
b) It’s coming straight for me.
c) Fuck, I was dead.

I could hear R yelling in the background, ‘Don’t panic’

To which I said (mentally), ‘Fuck you. There’s a great big snake snapping at my ankles, seemingly intent on making sure I never reproduce. And fuck you again. I’m not panicking. I’m just looking to get far, far away. Quickly’

It is surprising how many things go through your mind during these life or death moments.

Suffice to say I flew and/or levitated, loaded with kilos of photo equipment, up a sheer rock that was at least five feet high. Unfortunately in my excitement both during the event and post event, I couldn’t get a photograph of the snake. R was also so engrossed in taking a picture he accidentally released his grip on the snake which smoothly slipped into the water never to be seen again. Presumably he’s requesting Canadian refugee status right about now.
I later learned that the snake was in fact the Checkered Keelback, not the regular keelback and quite non-venomous. Of course better to be safer than sorry is what I say when there’s a snake trying to go at you like a demented Pekinese.

Better safer than sorry.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I still know what you did last night

He tried revenge last night. I stepped on him. Goo on the mat, will wash out with the dawn. He was conniving but still lower down on the food chain (not that I ate him or anything).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I know what you did last night

It was murder most foul, but I had no choice. As I switched on the lights his feelers twitched in surprise and I noted with distaste that he was precariously close to my toothbrush. Using the only deadly weapon at hand, my Bata health slipper (the bumps give an extra zip to its zap) I cautiously moved the cockroach over to a more accessible location, playing him quite adroitly if I do say so myself. Once he was on the door I leaned over, pulled back and slapped him with the Bata health slipper, the one with the bumps.

As he lay twitching I gave him one more tap on the head…then for good measure folded the mat over him and stepped down. Still he twitched…but thinking it was his death throes I congratulated myself and went in for my shower. Drying myself off I stepped into the bathroom area.

For a moment I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the familiar scene. The blue-green mat looked oddly bereft. Then it struck me.

He was gone…feelers and all.

Now all I can think of is that he’s out there, plotting sweet revenge, all 5 centimeters of him. And everytime I switch on the bathroom light I do it with caution. After all..he lives where I live.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Of course and last week so did I. admittedly it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had to do that, camping in the US generally involving quite posh toilets even in the backwoods. I was extra careful due to lack of practice, digging a hole deep enough that I swore I heard Chinamen echoing up through there requesting for more tenders. A bottle of water, a quiet secluded spot for said hole and an adroit sense of balance were all that were required in the end.

It was only after the deed was done that I realized my secluded spot was indeed secluded, the camp was completely hidden from view.

And I had forgotten to come up with a contingency plan in case a bear actually did decide to shit in the woods.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hey Jealousy

No this is not a personal post, it's juts that this popped up on my Genius playlist and it took me down memory lane. Whatever happened to the Gin Blossoms?