Today was my first time breathing under water, and it was one of the most bizarre things I have ever done. Totally counter-intuitive. But freaking awesome. The water here is about 40 feet deep, and the visibility is such that the bottom is easily visible, even from out of the water. My first few attempts I only went down 15 or 20 feet, which I can do free diving, and I kept forgetting to breathe. Then I would remember to breathe and start to hyper-ventilate a bit. I didn't like being under water like that alone.
Fortunately, our friends on Merkava are anchored about 100 feet from us, so I swam over and got Yuka in the water with me. She was stoked on the hookah too. On her first try she went down to the bottom and poked around for a good amount of time. I thought, if this chick who probably weighs 100 pounds and is about 5 feet tall can do it, so can I! My next dive I went down slowly, keeping an eye out for unwanted visitors (i.e. sharks). I passed a gnarly, giant coral head probably 20 feet tall, covered in all sorts of different fishes. When I finally made it down to the bottom, I grabbed a handful of sand triumphantly. Then I looked over, and there was... Yuka! The crazy girl free-dove down 35-40 feet, smiled and waved at me, and shot back toward the surface. Looking up, the bottom of the boat looked far away, but I managed to breathe and rise slowly to the surface, even though I felt like my heart was going to burst with adrenaline. There is something about being that far under water that kind of freaks me out. It sure is exhilarating though.
Yuka and I snorkeled around the boat for a bit and saw a little shark; I am sure glad I didn't see it when I was down under! We took the kayak over to the shallows and snorkeled around some more, but it was not as cool as yesterday. Yesterday we saw an eel in the coral, a bright orange octopus, and all sorts of cool looking fish. Then we got out of the water and walked around a Motu. We saw a baby black-tipped reef shark and a bunch of eels swimming in the shallows. We also saw these nasty looking creatures that kind of looked like a brown snake, but had tentacles at its head, shoveling sand into the hole I assume was its mouth. When we poked it, it scrunched up like an accordion. One of the ugliest creatures I have ever seen. I suppose it is fitting that there are strange creatures in this strange land.
Last night we went to dinner on a 55 foot Catamaran, owned by a very wealthy, semi-loud mouthed dairy farmer from Kansas. He and his Russian girlfriend are interesting... not so much because of what they say, but because of who they are and where they come from. Mark and Yuka also joined us, so there was the three of us from Rutea, a Canadian (Mark), Japanese (Yuka), Russian (Daria), and the farmer from Kansas (Pete). It was an interesting crowd. Fortunately we all have "the boat" (or more accurately, "what has broken recently on the boat" in common) so we had lots to talk about. You would be surprised to know how many dinner conversations revolve around water-makers and refrigeration. Fascinating, really.
And so, life continues to be exciting in spite of the fact that everything is very leisurely and rather sedated around here. Tomorrow we are heading to the west pass of the atoll, which is 30 miles away- a day's sail- all inside the lagoon! Gotta keep an eye on them pesky coral heads that like to pop up outta nowhere, like a mine field, all throughout the lagoon. And allegedly Makemo doesn't even have that many. Right. I can't wait to see other atolls!
At 5/12/2011 11:49 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 16°42.58'S 143°27.87'W
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