Snorkeling with turtles in Padangbai
What’s the best way to spend your day off? Well, of course on the beach reading the PADI Open Water Diver manual! With this mindset, I set the alarm clock at 8.30 am and mentally prepare myself to read the whole OWD book in one day. The little devil sitting on my left shoulder tells me, I don’t have to read the whole of it, because on the first day of the course, we watched PADI videos where the theory was nicely summarized. But then the little angel on my right shoulder reminds me, that I actually WANT to read the whole book. I like my life more complicated. Among other things, however, I think that repeating basic diving theory can only help me. To be honest, I would like to pass at least the theoretical part of the course (the final test) as best as possible, since the practical part was nowhere near easy for me. My geek ego would probably be crushed if I had to repeat the test. In the meantime, Lucy managed to pass the test very well, so I must do well too!
When the alarm rings in the morning, I try to suppress the compulsive need to toss the cellphone out of the window and into the jungle. I'd rather spend the whole day in bed. However, I can officially become a certified Open Water diver only if I pass the theory test.
I crawl into the bathroom and take a shower to wake up.
I plan to enjoy my day off the best I can, what in reality means that I'll be eating a lot of food. For breakfast, I choose The Colonial restaurant, which is actually part of the OK Divers Resort & Spa in Padangbai. I order banana pancakes, fruit salad and (because I want to look really “irresistible” in the swimsuit) three pieces of banana bread (and I naively thought I would lose weight in Bali). I just simply cannot resist food in that restaurant.
I’m so full I can’t move. I’m enjoying that feeling when Brona appears in the restaurant. "What are you doing here, my dear? Have you forgotten that you have your day off today?" "No Brona, I just wanted some light breakfast, but this plan has gotten out of control. Now I just have to get to the White Sand Beach. Do we have a teleport at the resort?" "Not yet, but if you're going to the beach, fell free to take my mask and snorkel," Brona says and leaves to chat with guests.
On the way to White Sand Beach, I pass by chickens, cows, dogs and three signs, each of them giving me the same information: WHITE SAND THE BEACH 300m. I walk for about 600 meter more and get to a truly beautiful beach with almost white sand and turquoise water.
As I gaze at the sea, local ladies offer me sunbeds, sarongs, massages, and so on. I decide to rent a sunbed, order a fresh coconut and then start reading the Open Water Diver manual.
After two hours of studying the diving theory, I decide to take a dip in the sea, since the crystal clear water looks so inviting. The waves are braking close to the shore and they seem pretty strong, so I watch the other daredevils trying to get in. Most of them can make it through the big waves to a calm snorkeling zone. I'm standing on the shore for about half an hour, remembering the situation when I tried to get through the big waves the other day. I did get into the water, but spent less than a minute in it, and then the sea dropped me back to shore without the top of the swimsuit and with a bloody knee. Not such a pretty memory.
I put Brona's dive mask on and run into the water. For a while, I feel I've gotten through the waves, but suddenly there goes a small tsunami over my head, and I know there’s no point fighting it. While trying not to drown, I notice a turtle next to me trying to fight the current. When the current subsides , the turtle slowly swims along the shore and I follow. As we swim together, suddenly I see 2 more turtles, one is the same size as the first one, the second is bigger. I’m really happy because I have never seen three turtles at the same time. We swim together for about 15 minutes. One of the snorkelers around, though, notices that I’m the only one snorkeling close to the shore and gets curious. When he sees 3 turtles, he calls his friends over, and my idyllic snorkeling session ends. Eight snorkelers surround the turtles and everybody wants to take a picture, some even try to touch them and take a picture with them. I don’t like it. I show them under water that they should not touch them, but they ignore me. I go back to the shore, angry. I try to keep reading the OWD manual. When I get to the chapter about the protection of marine life, I think of the snorkelers I met in the sea today and that they should definitely read this chapter.
After 4 hours on the beach I decide to go back to the jungle (that is, to my house). I take a shower, then dig out the last treasures from home (peanut nibbles and nut chocolate) and repeat the theory. Then I go to OK Divers, where Laci is waiting for me. "Is everything clear to you? If you need to explain something, we still can go through the theory together before the test", says Laci. "Thanks Laci, but I'm worried that if I start asking, we'll be here until tomorrow. What happens if I do not pass the test, though?" "Well, you will have one more try, but it doesn’t happen often that people need to repeat the test."
The test has 50 questions. I have no problem with most of the questions, but sometimes I need to double-check with Laci if I understand them correctly since I am taking the test in English. After about an hour I’m done with the test and Laci checks it for me. "Wow, Lila, congrats, you have answered all questions correctly," says Laci, and he writes 100% on my test.
"Does that mean I'm a certified Open Water diver?" "Well, first of all, you are not a quitter, and you've done all exercises in the end, so yes, I'll give you the certificate," Laci smiles. "Cool, in that case, I'm going to check the diving schedule for this week and I'll sign up for some dives right now. And, Laci, once again, thank you for your patience."