Today I realised how beautiful my life really is.
I woke up and took a refreshingly cold shower. I got dressed: a bikini, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I put my long blond hair up into a high ponytail, grabbed my back-pack and headed out the door. The early morning air was already heating up with the fresh green smells of the jungle, yet the fresh salty winds blowing off the sea kept me cool as I walked along the sandy path to work. Mount Angun rose up out of the clouds in the east and the sky was an endless blue. I greeted the locals along the way as they prepared their Warungs and bungalows for the busy day ahead.
Arriving at the dive centre just before seven, I prepared my coffee and sat on one of the old bamboo chairs sipping slowly as the early morning java awakened my senses. The view from the office as we like to call it; the soft white sand sloping gently to the shoreline where it runs into the turquoise blue waters, almost transparent in their clarity. The shallows ripple and glitter with the rays of the early morning sun, giving way to the darker opaque blue of the deeper waters beyond. To the east sits Gili Trawangan, a beautiful and stark contrast of golden sands and rich jungle greens.
I begin preparing for the morning dive by setting up equipment, carrying the aluminium cylinders and weight belts with an ease I can attribute to many years of working outdoors in an industry meant for the strength of men. I love the feel of the strength my arms posses, the way my muscles tighten as I lift the weights. I feel strong, healthy and alive as the sun warms my back. Methodically I check and recheck each set of equipment as I set it up listening closely for a hiss of air, a tell tale sign of a leak, I ensure that the regulators breathe smoothly, that the BCD inflates and deflates and finally I secure the gauges and hoses making sure that the gear is streamlined and secured. My divers begin arriving just as I finish setting out the fins and masks, I cheerfully introduce myself and offer them tea or coffee. Once everyone is acquainted, I begin my briefing, cracking jokes, keeping it light whilst still reminding my divers of safety procedures and important considerations for respecting the environment. The divers begin donning their wetsuits while chatting amicably before heading down the beach to our dive boat.
Once everyone is aboard, the engine roars to life and cruises gently toward our destination, the northern reefs of Gili Trawangan. A short boat ride of no more than ten minutes yet it is my favourite part of the morning. The fresh salty breeze whips at my face, a gentle ocean spray washing the last remainders of sleep away. As we arrive at the reef, the boat hustles and bustles with the final preparations for the dive as the divers put on our equipment and go through our safety checks.
‘Three, Two, One, Go!’ I shout, and we all roll backwards of the boat into the cool, clear waters of the Balinese Sea.
We make one final check with each other before descending below the calm surface to a world more beautiful than any place I have ever seen, real or imagined….The visibility is more than thirty meters of the clearest blue water imaginable.
There is no current, and the reef is teaming with marine life, thousands of beautiful brightly coloured fish of every shape and size going about their busy lives, completely unconcerned about our entry into their private, peaceful world. A green turtle swims by casually propelling herself along with a gentle flick of her flippers, she turns her eyeing me with a lazy interest before dipping her down to munch on a choice piece of broken coral. I check on my divers to make sure they are okay before turning back to gaze upon the intricate and delicate ecosystem before me. The sun’s rays turn to beams of light that dance beautifully across the colourful corals. I flick my fins gently mimicking the turtle’s movement, drifting mindlessly over the coral reef. I have no destination in mind, no predetermined path, just a sense of direction, a natural instinct and a childlike awe of my surroundings. For an hour we drift in this state unthinking, completely free, mind, body and soul, absorbing and observing the natural and unsurpassable beauty of the world around us. Each breath that I take is so deep and so slow that I am almost in a state of complete meditation. The fish begin to come closer and closer to me as they begin to include me in their world and I feel so grateful for this sense of belonging. This is my heaven, my haven, my paradise, the purest freedom I have ever tasted.
As our air runs low we begin our ascent, a slow steady drift towards the surface, gazing down at the magnificent world we have to leave. The white sands on the reefs edge ripple out as far as the eye can see and the endless blue is deep with mystery. I close my eyes as my head breaks the surface, the sun’s glow immediately warming my face. I open my eyes and stare up into the endless blue skies, I smile as I think to myself:
This is why we do what we do, there is no better job in the world than one that you love, and there is nothing on earth I could love more than spending an hour underwater in a magical world as peaceful as the one I have just visited.