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Culmination Part II

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I pull up next to the dive shop and start to unload my equipment. Enrico, the owner, politely reminds me not to park there as a pass is required and even if I was the only car in the parking area the cops are “f___ing pricks” and will write a ticket. I laugh, I’ve had a run in with the local policia once before that ended with me and a buddy not being able to unload our dive equipment at the end of a road that no one is “supposed” to drive down but everyone does. The end result was a 800 meter round trip surface swim to the area that we wanted to dive while la touristas, in rented BMW convertibles, drove down the same road, stopped in the same exact spot that I stopped in, and snapped pictures of us surface swimming. Yes, no need to tell me that the cops are f___ing pricks. I unload my 70lb bag and head over to the ferry parking area. There goes seven more Euros’ for the privilege of using an 8 x 12 piece of concrete for 4 hours. I wish I would’ve thought of that racket.

Since James is working on his cert and we are plenty early I leisurely gear up and double and triple check everything. My nerves are abating, something about that first few minutes of preparation still gives me butterflies. The nervousness is quickly overtaken with sheer excitement however. There is always this wonderful aura at the dive shop while people gear up. Unrestrained excitement and enthusiasm is contagious and divers seem to have plenty of this to share. Language barriers become non-existent. With my limited Spanish and others limited English we manage to make introductions and make small talk. I enjoy the chitchat. In my daily life I’m a fairly introverted person but divers are quite a garrulous bunch and it brings out the chatty Kathy in me.

We load up, thankfully I’m going out on the small boat. The dive shop has two boats. The small boat is low enough in the water that you can just back roll in, which is my preferred my method of entering the pond. Anything beats standing up and walking with on a rolling deck with 50lbs of gear and diving fins. Even in calm waters such as today I find it an incredible pain in the ass and is the least enjoyable part of my dive so I’m glad we are using the smaller of the two craft.

Gear on, buddy check complete, I sit impatiently waiting for Chiqi (pronounced chee-key) to position the boat over the entry area. This is always annoying for me. Even in the cooler weather sitting there like a black neoprene wrapped sausage with 50 pounds of equipment on my back and a fogging mask is uncomfortable and I enjoy this part like a running kick to the nuts but it is all culminating to fruition. I fully inflate my BCD, a few more deep breaths on my Oceanic regulator and I double check the pressure gauge ensuring no pressure drop or a bouncy needle, left hand on mask / regulator, right hand / bottom on the starboard edge of the boat, three, two, one, arse over tea-kettle I go.

There is a quiet slapping sound as my fins leave the deck, then blessed silence. The next sensation is one of the cold stinging my face and the sound of bubbles. I wonder if my mask is leaking but it is just the sting of the salty cold Atlantic flooding my hood. I see only dark blue punctuated by hundreds of tiny bubbles and my feet and arse swap places again, my body righting itself in the water column like a stick bobber rights itself in a farm pond. Gently I pop to the surface as the cold water creeps into the chest of my wetsuit reminding me very much that I am alive and a warm bodied creature. I touch my hands to my head and give the universal o.k. signal and spit my regulator replacing it with my snorkel for the short surface swim to the buoy. But before I go I relish this moment.

Don’t’ get me wrong, the dive will be epic, I will see things that 99% of the planet won’t. I will be an explorer and adventurer. For 45 minutes I will use a life support system to explore a world so alien that even those that have been diving this little patch of ocean the last decade stumble across animals that they’ve never seen before. But even more so than the dive itself this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. This is the moment. This is the moment when all the unwieldy gear has become weightless, this the moment when the cold ocean combines with my body heat reminding me of how alive I am. This is the moment when all sounds cease to exist but the gentle lapping of the waves on the side of the boat. The taste of the salt water, the sound of waves, the feeling of weightlessness, the sting of the cold, this is that moment.

The silence is broken with more divers entering the water. A short swim over to the buoy, more O.K. signals from all and a thumbs down. I cross my legs and exhale as I hold the inflator hose straight up and down and depress the top button. Slowly but surely the descent begins. After a few feet I slow my descent as the cold invades every part of my wetsuit gently taking the breath out of me. One more check at about 15 feet to make sure all is well. Regulator is breathing fine, no leaks on my mask, dive computer indicating we are at 15 feet, dive has been in progress for 1 minute and I enjoy the silence, the cold, the view of the chain leading only to the blue…vamos…
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