Open Water Certificate in 4 Days. Within a short four days, with 2 days break in the middle, I am now exposed to the wonders of the underwater world. And oh what a world it is. Since the day that the six-year-old-me got sunburnt in Anyer after flirting with the waves for five hours straight, I have been convinced that I am indeed a sea person more than a mountain one. If I want to sound like a pompous ass I could talk endlessly about how deep it is that such calm sea could hold so much mystery inside and how water could mold itself into unlimited shapes according to where you placed them, a secondhand allegory to what I aspire to be in life, but let’s not sludge along such a slippery egoistical-slope.
Let’s instead talk about how swimming in the vast blue ocean seem to manage to sap all your, by you I really mean I, troubles much quicker than you can doll out $100 dollar for your last shrink session. Something about being completely submerged in water would remind you of your momma’s womb perhaps? No scientific backing. Just saying. Oh but there ain’t no Nemo in my Momma’s womb for sure. So during the last four open water dives at Pulau Pramuka as part of completing the certificate, I met a few Nemos. Little striped orange-white Clownfish poking their faces out of the brightly colored anemone. Oh joy.
There was also the pygmy seahorse resting on the seafan. It looked exactly like the seafan’s branch. So to be honest, with my uncorrected sight, I pretty much would’ve mistaken it as just another branch. But my most enthralling moments were these encounters with my hommies. Yes, I’ve dubbed a whole species of fish that I still do not know the name of, my hommies. I call them the Lakers fish, appropriately for their bright purple and yellow coloring, and they seem to be as curious to me, these foreign object exerting bubbles, as I am to them. Wherever I swim, at least one would swim directly to my goggles and I must say I had a few eye contacts with some of them, such a flirt that I am. I wonder if they talk. Fish gossips. “You know that awkward looking diver right there who kept bouncing up and down… She was giving me the winks!”.”Na’ ah. I saw her first when she destroyed that hundred years old corals with her clumsy appendage” (Sorry, corral) And so on. One of them would even circle me around and around while I sat down on the dive school’s platform 5 meters under the water, waiting for my moment of torture, ie skills test. It’ll look like torture as I’d have to remove my masks and dance to the tune of Kopi Dangdut underwater and do a summersault three times. No, not really. They were mostly necessary skills to have especially for emergency reasons. If anything, the age old must-do is to keep breathing and stay calmMy childhood spent in swimming pools playing underwater games seem to finally have a purpose. When friends and brother alike hold you under the water for so many times, you’ll eventually learn what to and not do.
What I didn’t realize is how little time you actually spend diving! Going down for at tops an hour at a time, you’ll have to have adequate surface intervals to ensure that your nitrogen level in your body is not dangerous. Such danger is called narcosis when your body has too much nitrogen and your brain start letting you do silly thing beyond your normal behavior. Tough symptoms to spot on such already silly friends that I have, I’m sure. I have a feeling this narcosis condition might be a cheap way of recreational self-induced condition to some people on land as the danger is mostly “acting stupid and possible hallucination”.
So, in any given trips, you’d experience underwater bliss for 2-3 hours at most and the rest of your time you’ll spend eating, sleeping, dreaming, looking into the vast open ocean on a boat and just basically enjoy the island life. Looking at buoying waves had somewhat that kind of calming effect, to me at least. At times I’d imagine that the sea is made of jelly and there’s a big giant knife ready to cut it up. And at times I simply follow a spot bobbing up and down across into the horizon and let my mind wander free. Soaring beyond the physical world. I have been fortunate that it has always come back to the cramped little mushy grey cage for I am sure it’s much more exciting out there. Regarding the dives themselves, I only felt really comfortable on the fourth dive.
The first three dives I found the pressure was a bit too much for my ears and head. Still bearable but 2-3 bars of water pressure, you’d definitely feel. Often I found myself equalizing the pressure difference by blowing my nose, as you’d do in airplanes, and I’d immediately lose my balance. A huge fear of disturbing the corals and ecosystem mixed with a super uncoordinated limbs and my body not quite sure where to place itself must’ve provided an entertaining sight for the fish. At some points I’d find myself sinking to the ground not quite sure how I got there. But good ol instructor always oh so patient coding me what to push at what time. I must say that’s one of the times I literally completely trust my life to another person. But then again you have to have that sort of “ready to die” mentality when you do such extreme activities. Oh what am I talking about, to zebra cross through Jakarta’s traffic will also need such mentality or you’ll never get anywhere. And ready to die or not, I am going underwater again! and again! and again!