First off, since getting back home I’ve been following up on boring, mundane odds and ends. Like trying to set up a way to transfer money between my two bank accounts (which for some reason didn’t get set up though I mailed in the request before leaving!). Realizing that I might be able to get a warranty claim on the expensive mattress I bought two years ago that now hurts my back (though they can’t come out to look at it for 3-4 weeks!).
The biggest scare I had was following up on my travel insurance – I wanted to get credit back on the year of coverage I thought I purchased – except found out it never got processed… I hadn’t realized that they never charged me for the additional top up (I pay a monthly premium for unlimited number of trips up to 60 days). Thank god nothing happened to me!! I also purchased a year of DAN (Diver’s Alert Network) insurance before I left, so supposing I got the bends, I would have been alright in that instance… But only that instance.
Lesson learned: Make a checklist and check it twice before leaving the country for an extended period of time! Especially in North America, where it seems no one gives a shit, and don’t have any pride in a job well done.
But enough ranting – onwards to the fun stuff!
I started scuba diving out of curiosity. I stuck to it despite (or because?) it was challenging. As I worked through the difficulty I had with scuba, I started learning how to relax underwater. At times I felt what it was like to be in a zen-like state, at peace underwater. I’ve pushed myself through the stress that comes with diving without a guide, diving with bad ears (I have a hard time equalizing), diving in current, diving at night in horrible visibility (and thankfully having the guts to know my limits, and to abort the dive I was “leading”).
Unexpectedly, another thing I got out of scuba was a love for sea creatures. Aquariums and zoos used to bore me, but when I’m inside the aquarium, seeing how delicate and beautiful the cycle of nature is… I have a new found appreciation for nature and think now more than ever that we need to protect it.
I’ve toyed with the idea of doing my divemaster, though I still have a long ways to go, and a lot more diving I’d need to do still. I still have moments of stress and anxiety in the water but know now how to work through it, which is helpful in and out of the water. Recognizing that any problem can be solved by stopping, breathing, and thinking things through before panic sets in. Freaking out above water just doesn’t seem to have much point to it anymore. Being back home, I drive more slowly, and I feel happier and less stressed out just in general. But add in the grind of a mundane job again and I don’t know what will happen…
And now – the photos! Keep in mind I’m still not that good underwater, and my buoyancy is pretty bad once you throw in another thing to think about. I was worried about getting too close in case I went crashing into the coral because I still can’t control my buoyancy that well.
Cleaner wrasse giving the larger fish a thorough cleaning job
So beautiful underwater…
My favorite fish in the Great Barrier Reef – dog faced puffer fish. Unfortunately a bit shy, as it was pretty hard to get a good shot of it
Dog faced puffer fish #2
Dog faced puffer fish #3. Not a great photo, but you can see how stupid looking they are! So stupid looking, they’re cute!
The other volunteer hostie on board, who was my main dive buddy during my second trip
Huge bat fish under the boat
An eagle(?) ray missing it’s tail!
At first I thought – hey, it looks like a ray was sleeping there!… Wait, it IS there!
Two reef sharks
One swam closer
Got a little nervous when it swam right at me, even though they’re generally harmless to humans
Better view – you can see this one is a white tip reef shark
For some reason the fish kept swimming straight at me, making me nervous! But also giving me a chance to take a better photo. This one is a humphead parrot fish 🙂
One of the highlights was watching a moray eel on one of the last morning dives swimming for 5 minutes. Didn’t see very many on the Great Barrier Reef, but when you do spot them, they’re usually tucked in a hole somewhere, with the head only visible, so it was a real treat! Couldn’t get a good photo however 😦
Attempt #1 to photograph the moray eel