Our First Dive...Shark!

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Nov 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Manta Dive Gili Air Resort

Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our little bungalow was delightful, even more so was the introduction of Lombok coffee with our 'pancakes' at breakfast overlooking the water. Lombok coffee is like a sludge of extremely fine coffee grounds, but it feels hearty and it’s better than the stuff we had been drinking.

By 9am we were on the boat to "Manta Point" off of Gili Trawangan for our first dive.  I was a bit nervous, but mostly excited as I had fallen in love with snorkeling a few years ago.  All suited up we clumsily dropped in the water from the boat and got our bearings and went over a few things with Debra.  It wasn’t long before we were under water learning to breathe and getting over the jitters of being completely submerged in the ocean.  I can see why it’s helpful to practice in a pool as it’s a bit daunting to make sure you are doing everything right while keeping your eye on the seascape below.

Within a few minutes we were swimming at depth and it didn’t take long to see a black tipped reef shark, a green sea turtle, and a hawksbill sea turtle amongst all the coral and fish.  The minutes felt like seconds as everything raced by so fast while we got used to swimming underwater.  Before no time, we were making our first ascent (I went a bit too fast) and we went over a few exercises above the water.

It was an exhilarating experience and Erica and I were both looking forward for more on the boat ride back to Gili Air.  Back at Manta Dive we made our first Dive Log entries and went over all the fish we saw.  We had a break for lunch and tried Scallywags, “A shady bar for shady people”.  We had relatively expensive baguette sandwiches, as this was the nicest of the half dozen bars on our little strip of almost deserted beach.  We lounged a bit in their cushy chairs and headed back to the Manta for a bit more instruction.

It wasn’t long until we were back on the water at Hans Reef off of Gili Air.  We started by practicing a controlled descent down a rope.  At the bottom we practiced taking off our masks, clearing water out of them, and emergency air techniques.  I was a bit distracted while the others did their exercises antsy to get out and swim.  We saw a Blue Spotted Ray, Moray Eel, and several Lion Fish and Parrot Fish which are beautiful creatures.  By our second dive we were getting better at giving the OK sign rather than the thumbs up sign as Debra regularly checked on us through the dive as we got the hang of managing our buoyancy.

After our dive we went over some homework and Erica finished the last chapter as we enjoyed a Lombok coffee in the courtyard, as it seemed no one actually spent any significant amount of time indoors in a place like this.  Even more so than the places in Bali, everything was open air, save your room (which could be opened up), the public restrooms, and the office.  All the bars and restaurants were the same way, as the weather was consistently warm with the occasional heavy rain.  This place typified “Island Time”, and everyone on the island spent the majority of their day engaging in various styles of ‘lounging’.

By dinner time, we had it in our mind (and our belly) to try the highly recommended Italian Restaurant down the road a bit, but as darkness fell we somehow missed it.  Keep in mind, as mentioned above, there aren’t actual buildings, just a series of thatched roof structures on the beach side of the road and an open air bar or guest house complex on the island side of the road, and by road I mean dirt path just wide enough for a donkey cart in places (there are no motorized vehicles on the island).

Having gotten lost, we picked the nearest restaurant we could find and enjoyed a pretty good meal in one of the more modest places on the strip.  Erica finished her homework and we were in bed before 10pm.

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