Grounded

An Atoll

Despite my best efforts I woke up with a cold. And I had barely slept because I had been awake blowing my nose all night.  It was that morning I discovered that they had decongestant on the boat.  I could’ve taken it the night before, but you can’t take it before you dive.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to dive the rest of the trip.  I made it down on the first dive.  And saw the usually suspects, including more Big nosed Unicorn Fish shimmying through the bubbles in utter joy, I also saw some Sea Cucumbers, Belti Fora Starfish and schools of orange Anthias.  Also saw a two-color parrot fish.  But when I surfaced from my first dive my ears were plugged.  After a discussion with Esay he said that I could try the second dive, it was the Ari Thile and it is supposed to be beautiful.  I couldn’t clear my ears and I aborted at about 5 meters,  I came up and was aways from the Doni, I waited for them to notice me, but when it was taking too long I gave a yell and they came over and picked me up.  One of the most difficult parts of diving was getting back on the Doni, they had a ladder but the bottom rungs were metal tubes with rope around them and they were hard on my feet; I started taking off my BCD and tank before climbing the ladder which made it easier.  I hung out with Cheddi, Mohammad and Ali while we waited for the other divers to surface.  Mohammad and Ali were 19 and Cheddi was 23 and he had already been married and divorced.  At first Cheddi seemed quiet, but after playing UNO with him, he turned out to be quite funny.  Ali and Mohammad were very sweet a nd took very good care of us.  Ali was always helping me on with my BCD.  Tom was always helping me zip up my wet suit.  He taught me the trick of using a plastic bag to get it on easier. 

After one dive Tom came up and he had an abrasion on his lower leg and was bleeding.  “What happened,” I asked him.  “I ran into some coral,” he replied.  “You didn’t notice that when the white tip reef sharks started circling I hid behind you?” he asked.  “What you were hoping they would think I was leftovers?”  We laughed.   I thought I was going to miss out on a second dive, but instead the group opted for Whale Shark territory and to see if we could try and see them. 

I was surprised to find out that you can find them in more shallow waters; so I wasn’t going to miss out on a dive, because we were going to snorkle with the Whale Sharks.  Everyone would keep their eyes peeled and have all their gear ready and then we would all look for dark shapes in the water.  We started on the Black Pearl and we would get as close as possible and then someone would yell, “Get ready! Get ready! Jump!  And then we would all jump into the water.  They were huge, the first one I swam with was at least three times as long as me.  I would follow it along about two meters above it until it got tired of being tailed and it would slowly descend into the depths.  After the first siting we moved to the Doni and we ended up chasing Whale Sharks for the majority of the afternoon at least for two hours.  We all really got into it, the crew was the best at spotting them and they would be on top of the Doni and then someone would see a dark shape and yell there.   The Doni would get as close as possible and then we would jump off and swim with the Whale Shark for as long as possible until it disappeared, then we would climb onto the Doni and it would begin again.  The crew would tease us, pretending they saw one and yelling, “Get ready! Get ready! Jump!”  When there were no whale sharks to around.  We ended up swimming and seeing three of them.  And we had a great time chasing them around.  Jen was so enthusiastic and she was having such a great time, her grin was from ear to ear.  But we were all having a grand time.  Uber had quit jumping in the water about halfway through the afternoon and was now attempting to wreck havoc on the boat.  He was one of those older guys you meet diving, who has dove for ages and is just a kick in the pants.  He didn’t go anywhere without his snuff box and he wandered around the Doni in his Speedo and a winter hat, to keep his ears intact.  All of the Austrians and Thomas the German covered their ears immediately after getting out of the water.  Maybe they are onto something. 

That night after dinner we watched Squid feeding off the back of the boat.  They would circle around and then pounce on little fish, who disappeared into their tentacles.  It was a great day.

GET READY! GET READY!  JUMP!

Esay, my dive partner looking for Whale Sharks

The Doni Crew

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