I’ve always had a unique way of handling pressure and stress- especially when it comes to underwater endeavors. Water and I have a long history together. From growing up in the mighty mo (muddy Missouri River) that runs along the boarder of Iowa and Nebraska, in the heart of the United States, to the neighborhood water hole and then on to collegiate swimming- an underwater adventure was an exploration to a whole new unknown world of it’s own.
That being said, today I set fin into what was previously an idea and an image merely constructed from hours in front of IMAX screens and zoo tours filled with colorful fish and lively coral. For the last few years I’d heard raves near and far from close friends and travelers alike to what the underworld held in store, but nothing could prepare me for today.
Having such a history with swimming, it took awhile to acclimate and get over the desire to hold my breath and blow air out my nose (as any retired sprint freestyler might identify with) but after about ten minutes battling the submersion process, ok maybe 15, we were on our way. Once submerging, swimming underwater felt natural and whole, moving effortlessly, following the reef and just being in awe of the nature that surrounded me.
As any art student might know, one of the fundamental skills for capturing and creating art is texture. I remember texture being one of my first photography assignments and also one of my most challenging charcoal assignments during undergrad. On land often times our idea of texture is man made: flow, movement and rhythm that we can appreciate working together in a Zen-like harmony; the kind of work which artists pour over for hours. But underwater? All of that structure and manmade expectation goes out the window and instead is replaced with a world all of it’s own, without limits of space, boundaries of color or confinements of imagination. A world full of jaw dropping wonder, ever changing landscapes, peaceful life and an endless flow of colors, working and moving together. The pure vibrant cycle of it all is simply amazing because it’s entire substance hangs wholly on an ecosystem that is nearly untouched.
To say it simply, it blew my mind. To be clear, I was exhilarated during, felt anticipation between and on my second dive felt a new depth of life. This is on of the best thing I never even imagined and I’m thankful to the people in my life that encouraged me to pursue getting my certification. Not to mention, as the pictures tell better than my words can create, I had a picturesque environment to learn with perfect weather and endless eye candy. I just might be falling in love.
I am currently in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines and the two dive sites today took place at Entalula and South Miniloc. Some of the new and unique sea creatures I was able to experience were a Hawksbill turtle, giant grouper, cuttlefish, lionfish, tuna, mackerel, spiny lobster, and these gorgeous metallic rainbow fish. Others from my group also spotted a blue-spotted stingray and blue ribbon eel. I have just decided to stay at this island a little bit longer- giving me plenty of time to get my certification, explore all of the beaches (island hopping tomorrow!), take a motor bike around for a day and enjoy some more fresh fish!