08 January 2018

beautiful misery

We decided that it would be smarter not to schedule dives for the day we arrived in El Nido, because jet lag is a jerk.

So we scheduled four of them for the next day. (I said smartER, not smart.)

I had a grand idea a few days before we left on our trip, and I had my doctor call in a prescription for the motion sickness patch. This thing had some downsides - it didn't completely get rid of my motion sickness, you can't drink on it, and it makes you sleepy, to start - but it worked pretty well the first couple of days.

So we hopped into the water and dove, three dives. And then we went back to the dive shop, where I took the night diving class, and we went back out and dove again.

I'm not going to lie, I was exhausted. I was jet lagged and dopey from the patch and, actually, diving at night is a little scary. It's really, really dark down under water.

Fortunately, we had the next day to zipline from one island to another and lay on the beach.

That night we went diving again, again in the dark, but this time with fluorescent lighting. I'm not sure that I would have done this dive if I'd known what a fluo dive meant. I thought it meant phosphorescence, but no. 

What it meant was that we wore amber lenses over our masks, and we held blue lights, and the only thing we could see at any given moment was the living thing at which we were directly shining the blue lights, which then started fluorescing, and it was extremely claustrophobic, and I don't even get claustrophobic. It was the most claustrophobic I've ever been. 

During our safety stop at 15 feet, near the end of the dive, the dive master suddenly grabbed me and pulled me toward the surface, and on the way up he grabbed J. and pulled him up, too, and it turns out that we were surrounded by tiny, lovely, blue-fluorescing jellyfish that would hurt if they touched you, and a bigger one had been right where I was going but I didn't see it.

This was kind of the story of the rest of our dives: So many pretty, dangerous jellyfish. One of our dive masters got stung (by a little one, thank goodness). I got massively motion sick, because I managed to put the second motion sickness patch on wrong so it wasn't in full contact with my skin, and then when I moved it, I managed to get some of it in my eye, so my eye dilated way too much (a known side effect) and things were blurry up close. Two people got separated from the group on one dive, and I mistakenly followed the instructor when he went to look for them instead of staying with J., who was my buddy. The instructor and I got back to J. and the group, but we had to surface early to find the missing pair. (They'd gotten lost taking photos.) We had a strong current on one dive. The whole boat got so motion sick in the large swell that I had to stand at the front staring forward while other people lay in agony inside the boat. I got a little panicky about my breathing, even though I've loved diving since the first time I went under water. 

I make it sound miserable, and sometimes it was, because diving can be, with the wetsuits and the ocean swell, but then I would look out at the gorgeous green water with the gorgeous green rocks standing up out of it, and I wanted to stay forever. 

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