WOW, has it been that long already. You have to understand that I have no idea what day of the week it is. Sometimes, I wake up and I am scared that it is the day after tomorrow, then I realise/hope that someone would have come to check I was alive. (The photo? Yeah, that’s me… in the tropics… Yeah, I know. My hair looks great. THANKS!)
I have indulged myself over the last few missives mainly by spouting my internal flim-flam and mental wonderings but it appears that it was at the detriment of actual CONTENT. People like to read about actual things. So this time, I am making a conscious effort to have a focus. Let’s try talking about diving. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.
My days are orientated by whether I am diving or not and if it I am assisting on a course. This week has been all about assisting for me and all the other DiverMaster Trainees (DMTs)… yeah, I know, there are more of us now. There is Eva who was here when I arrived back. From what I have seen and been told, she can hold her own in the bar and definitely in the ocean. Suzi/Suzanne loves being in the water and no matter what time of day, I turn around and she is in the pool. Me OBVIOUSLY – ‘the first’ and original zero to hero Liquid DiveMaster. Laura is here doing her rescue and this time next week she will be working towards her DM. AND FINALLY, Juilette arrived with wide eyes and calm, understated excitement. Alfred the resort’s official DiveMaster continues to be an inspiration and then there are our instructors – Gui ‘le beurre’ and also ‘our old friend’ who is wandering about in the depths of the blue surrounding Malapascua. Basically, there are LOADS of new people. Oh how could I forget, Phil and Elin are here now under the guise of Management and all round badasses. So far, they had a wonderful impact on the place LONG may it continue.
The staff have taken been given the chance to do their PADI Open Water and so the pool has been filled with excited Filippinos and (slightly) frantic DMTs trying to stop them floating away, drinking the water out of their snorkels and generally keeping everything in control. The role of a DMT while assisting is basically to make sure everything that the instructor needs in on hand, while also looking after students and perhaps helping them through the trickier skills. Personally, I LOVE assisting on courses because you get to see peoples happy shock and growing awe at how easy it is to breath underwater and THEN there are the fish. EVERYWHERE. I get a properly euphoric feeling when diving with newbies because it reminds me of why I am here and invigorates me even on the slowest of days. Gui and I are becoming a better and better team which is gently solidifying a friendship for many years to come. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. While assisting in the open water we basically end up riding the student’s tank ‘like a little pony’ (my words) to make sure they do not ascend too quickly.
Daily life is hotting up both literally (the sun is back… and this time it wants revenge) and metaphorically. The life of a DiveMaster and the training that precedes it is fairly all encompassing. Of an average day, I can expect to be welcoming new guests *INSERT HOLLYWOOD WINK AND GUN*, cleaning and servicing equipment, mapping new dive sites or errrrr, DIVING. More accurately, I could be guiding, briefing procedures for, buddy-ing up with guests or assisting Gui on certifications. This week Suzi, Eva and I have been refining our skills to “demonstration quality”. What are these skills you talk of? Witchcraft? Shamanism? Baking? Nope. I am talking about displaying diving techniques. These vary greatly from clearing your mask of water, removing and replacing your weight-belt while underwater or air depletion scenarios. What is this demonstration quality malarkey and why is it necessary for a DiveMaster? Ultimately if I am assisting on a course it may be the case that need to help a student if they are having problems with a skills so demonstration quality basically means slow, grand gestures with plenty of “remember, don’t put your mask on upside down” using only hand signals. It’s like training to be an aquatic Marcel Marceau.
Fear not good people, most of the times in between these strenuous and hectic days, I am found reclining in my favourite corner of the chill out area or propping up the bar. Both important parts of my personal life training. It was with sheer delight that a good friend from my previous life in London – Gav – was out here whence I returned. He is the reason I ended up in this corner of paradise because he put me in touch with Zoe last April. April 10th to be precise. I think that day will be forever etched into my life as a turning point. Thanks Gav, it was properly wonderful to see you here even if was for only a few days. Gav and I worked together and shared MANY a night in the pub, so bringing him, Zoe (a childhood friend since the age of 3), me and everyone else at Liquid together… on a night out… could only end in carnage. It is here that I will use a direct quotation from Gav himself:
“Well last night went like this – 4 dinners between 3, jugs of cocktails, Philippine Reggae band, 9 people on a tricycle, random club, dice based drinking game, accidental punch on the nose, French love triangle, drunken man from Lincoln, disgruntled prostitutes, fun with static electricity and a bear, 4 people sleeping in a tricycle, a torchlit walk home and a persistent ladyboy called Stephen then some excellent star gazing from a volcanic beach. Pretty average Wednesday night really”
I don’t think I need to elaborate.
I thought I would leave you with MY favourite underwater creature that I have found and fortunately for me, they are along the coast. It is a flambouyant cuttle fish. They are about 1-2 inches long. If you wave your hand near them, first they go into hover mode THEN, they go crazy displaying white and purple stripes. I am not sure if you have ever seen a cuttle fish BUT they are able to change colour to blend with their surroundings. They display these colours to confuse and put-off any predators. Have a look HERE for a video taken my John one of our former guests.
Have a listen to Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again. Don’t get me wrong, I am not homesick BUT I love my home, my friends and my family both here and in the UK. This song fills me with a warmth that could only be emulated by having all these people in one place. One beautiful place.
Take it easy people. Until the next time,
So a few years back – won’t mention exactly how many – there I was plodding along in life without a care in the world and no idea what I would end up doing. Then came the dreaded question that most late teens early 20’s who are aimlessly wandering in life hear at least once from a proper grown up! “So what are you doing with your life?”
“What was I doing?” Honestly at that point I had done a numerous amount of weird and wonderful jobs from being an Au Pair in Italy to working on private yachts in the Mediterranean; from cleaning toilets in Australia to working in a ski resort in the Alps; from being a sous chef in England to working for a Sultan in France….the list goes on!
At some point during these wonderful years of – as most proper grownups would say -‘bumming around the world’ I experienced diving. So when I was asked the ‘dreaded question’ I simply replied I’m going diving! I have no idea where this thought came from as it had been a few years since I had last bubbled around underwater, but I seemed pretty confident in my answer and thought why not! After a lengthy discussion with the folks and a promise that this wouldn’t be another one of those excuses for ‘bumming around and doing nothing’ and let’s not forget the solemn oath to pay them back! I booked a plane ticket and a few weeks later I was off to experience my new life as a professional diver!
Having taken full advantage of the free alcohol rule on my international flight I arrived on the Honduran Island of Utila with a stinking hangover, not enough sun cream and no idea of what I was really up to. I got dropped off at the dive center that was very soon to become my home for nearly 2 years and was promptly introduced to a number of very interesting characters, one of whom became my husband!
Many people get into diving as a break from the norm. They tend to last a few years then decide that the lack of money just does not compensate enough for the fabulous beach life, so end up heading back to the ‘real world’. Then there are those of us who think this is the ‘real world’ and end up staying in the industry and making it our lives. That is where I fit.
It is true that the money is not good, that the hours can be long; after all it is the tourism industry so you work when you have to. The low seasons can be a real pain in the butt and I personally do not enjoy diving during the winter months when the visibility is crappy, the seas rough, the water temperature low enough to turn me a nice shade of blue and the constant rain means nothing really ever dries. But now let’s look at the positives –
I always have enough money for a local beer and get to drink it most nights while watching a stunning sunset over some tropical beach as most places I work are tropical. I tend to eat out every night as it is normally cheaper than cooking at home, I walk bare foot to the office that is on a beach, my uniform is a wetsuit, I get to dive every day and get paid to blow bubbles, I get to teach people how to dive which is awesome, I constantly meet new people most of whom are generally really nice, my biggest daily concern is how do I look in my bikini, I dive with sharks and rays – nuff said and the best bit I now have my own dive resort and I love it!
Admittedly now that I am running my own (well not just mine, my husband is also involved) dive resort I tend not to get the chance to dive as much as I would like, however that has not dampened my enthusiasm for the industry. I still love listening to the customers tell me about their days diving and what weird and wonderful stuff they encountered underwater, and I still get a buzz when I see people blow bubbles for the first time – the smiles that result after that first breath are awesome!
Life is good as a diving instructor.
2012. It’s been a funny year already but mainly in a good positive, good-foundation-on-which-to start-a-year kinda way. I left London and my family and friends at 7:30pm on the 31st December only to wake up in Riyadh at 4:30am (I think) to the constant sound of mobile phone ringing. The sound of a phone ringing is no longer noteworthy but it seemed like the world I had woken up in was suddenly sponsored by the Nokia ringtone you know the one – diddle-dee-dee-dee-dee-DEEEE diddle-dee-dee-dee-dee-DEEEE – including the airport tannoy.
I went home, back to London town, for Christmas and I have to admit that it was not relaxing but nor was I expecting or intending it to be. It was a maelstrom of social jitterbug of flitting and shimmying making sure I spent time with the people I wanted to while also crow barring in those who make my life the wondrous joy that it is. I feel/felt the need to state my love for London and the UK because I do often as a retort to a remark like “I don’t blame you for leaving this hellhole”. I am proud to be English and swell with pride while wondering the street of my London town.
I have been ‘working hard’ (I add the inverted commas because I can imagine Dad laughing at the fact that I am calling it 1) working and 2) hard) while I was home and I am now a product/user tester for a few outdoorsy products. At the risk of sounding like I am kissing arse (ass for our American cousins) a bit, I have to say I am extremely impressed with what I have been given.
- DD hammocks have given me a new sleeping system to test and so far I am very pleased to say that their new Travel Hammock/Bivi is excellent. I cannot wait to go out Mount Talinis now.
- Pelican cases have also given me an iPod case which is crush proof, watertight (but not submersible) and extremely light considering what it is able to do
- Paramo has provided me with a pair of their Men’s Maui Cotton+ Cargo Trousers. Anyone that has been following me for a little while will know that my jungle trousers from last year got obliterated so I set a few companies the challenge of providing me a decent pair and Paramo were the only ones to step up. Not only that but they use a very ethical supply chain (kind of like fair trade but for trousers) that starts in Bogota, Colombia. All else aside, these are a wonderfully well made and very light weight pair of cotton/polyester blend trousers. I already highly recommend them.
I am really quite unfashionably excited for my near and far futures. I know that any time spent at Liquid will be treasured for the rest of my life. There is a 99% chance that I am going to spend the second half of this year in Madagascar with an organisation called Frontier which would be a boyhood dream come true so you’ll have to keep an eye out for that.
It took me over 57hours to get from Heathrow to Dumaguete. I can hear everyone’s questions as to WHY OH WHY it takes me that long BUT I took a long way round and it was fairly cheap too. Manila NAIA Airport Terminal 3, an airport terminal I know intimately down to where the only power socket situated next to a chair is and the wireless password to three of the closed networks, was kind to me as usual. This time, I invested my time wisely by watching two parts of the Lords of the Rings trilogy (extended versions OBVIOUSLY) as well as a fair few episodes of The Wire. “Omar’s comin’ y’all”. I am tired but so happily excited to be getting back to the country/island/town/resort I call my home away from home. What should I do first when I return? Eat? Sleep? Dive? LIVE?!? Probably all of the above plus maybe a drink or two! I also need a hair cut but I think that that can wait. I am keen to meet Eva who is a new DiveMaster Trainee as well as all the many others imminently arriving over the coming weeks. (Gui has been busy).
I have bought a sack of treats for my co-habitants which got me thinking. What would I miss from the UK that I can’t easily get in Negros? I can access Ribena here which is something that makes me feel at home when I am away from the UK, I do not miss chocolate so much. Cooking-wise, Ricki and Peddi are able to turn their hand to anything so; my favourite at home which is chicken in breadcrumbs is available when necessary and then it dawned on me. I definitely miss my cat Li’l (short for little… because she is little). I also think I miss Hungarian Salami – something I was bought up on. I am not the most Magyar-ish of the Magyars although there are definitely Detre/Frankl traits that are beginning to shine through – mainly blagging and charming. This was bought to my attention when explaining my favourite Jedi mind trick to my extended family which goes along something like this. If I am faced with a situation which is likely to put a spanner in my works then I explain, regardless of my experience of the situation, that “It’s fine, it’ll be ok”. This is most useful when dealing with airports, aeroplanes or the staff that man these entities. I have not paid excess baggage since I first arrived in Asia and apparently I am able to use the staff facilities in both Saudi Arabian and Filippino airports mainly because “it’ll be ok.”
I have to admit that this entry of my life feels a lot like the gentle mental meanderings of a sleep deprived diving junglist without any mention of diving or jungling. I admit also that were it not for the sleep deprivation, the mental meanderings would probably be slightly more erratic. If you have a problem with that then you should probably have stopped reading a while ago. I ALSO think the jungle can be made into a verb. One CAN jungle.
Wild Child – Pillow Talk; Daughter – Candles and SBTRKT – Right Thing to Do were the main songs that highlighted and sountracked my sojourn back to the UK. I heartily encourage you to give them all a listen.
I could have summed this 1,092 words up in a couple of sentences:
Friends, family and London – I love you and I’ll see you again soonish. Liquid, my family there and Dauin – I love you too and Papa’s home!