I was under water about 6 meters, petting a sea turtle as it nibbled at seaweed, watching the the sun stream down through the water and I realized that it was in fact my birthday- and quite possibly one of the best birthdays ever. I couldn't think of anything I would rather be doing at that moment.
I loved diving the first moment I put my head under the water and I love it even more every time I go out and feel more and more in control. When I was little, we spent our summers at a lake, in the water for as long as my mom would let us. We'd drag ourselves out with blue lips and pruney fingers, begging for 5 more minutes in the water. And it never got dull, since we were constantly inventing some new game or stunt to perfect. When the dive instructor was trying to convince me to take off my mask and swim along the rope, I wasn't fazed in the least, pointing out that was used to getting water up my nose after trying to do more sommersaults in row on one breath of air than Casey. And when he asked if I would be alright with opening my eyes unerwater so that I could find my mask after dropping it, I assured him it was- crystal clear Maldivian water is nothing after swimming with my eyes open in swampy Lake Winter. I told my mom after my first dive, if I had none what diving was all about when I was a teenager, I would have given university a miss and decided that dive instructor was the only thing for me. I can't imagine anything further than the life I have right now but I think I would have been perfectly content, going out diving three times a day every day of the week. So being able to jump out of bed on my birthday, throw on my swimsuit, and go for a dive? The perfect day.
And got even better, if you can imagine. Since I was up early for the dive, I was a bit tired and took a nap on the lounge chair under the palm tree outside our room, listening to the waves crashing out on the reef. For dinner, we headed out to the Italian restaurant on pilotes on the other side of the island and watched the dolphins swim by at sunset as we sipped glasses of champagne. Then after a gorgeous seafood dinner, the staff came out with a birthday cake as a surprise (the front desk noticed on our check-in information that it was my birthday!). Then we sat in the beach bar until midnight, listening to a local band and drinking melon martinis. And then we stumbled drunkenly back to our room to collapse into bed (bet that was a real surprise ending.) Perfect perfect perfect day.
I am zipping along on my dive course, but I haven't hardly cracked the book yet which is a bit bad. Its just so hard to find the time and the motivation to sit down and study it. Thankfully they have it all on DVD as well, so I have been slowly working my way through that. Tomorrow though my instructor Felix very kindly suggested that I just go out on the boat for a dive, no lessons, no tests. Hurrah. It was very difficult to drag myself out to the dive center this morning with a hangover, knowing that there was some evil situation awaiting me. Today was the fun "We are going to close your tank so that you have no more air" test. What do you do? Discuss in the comments.
We are getting a bit worried about turning into big fat shark bait while here since our main activities can be summed up as eating and sweating. The main restaurant where we go for most meals is buffet style and since the hotel is nearly full we are seated in the nether regions of Catering Land, which we thought might help us to not eat too much. Wrong. Not just for a buffet style restaurant, but for any kind of restaurant, the food is AMAZING. I don't think that I have tried a single thing that I didn't love. The consequences will be dire I fear. And since I spend ;y day in an elastic suit, its hard to notice how bad things are getting. I might be flying home in a muu-muu from the gift shop. No wonder they have such a large stock- it probably happens to most of the guests.
Meal time is also fun since we get to speculate on the backgrounds of the other guests. Out in the nether regions we are blessed to have two of the islands main characters- Galina (russian supermodel/prostitute, depends on our mood) and the Chinese albino. I'm sure everybody wants our table. Galina is here with two other Russian women, a short fat blonde and an older women with glasses and henna'd hair. And they seem very very awkward together so naturally we have imagined all sorts of wild explanations. Galina was hired to complete a lesbian menage a trois. Galina is a ballerina taken away from her family at the age of 5 and this is her reunion with them. Galina is trying to hook a rich Russian sugar daddy and these are her madame's trying to help her out. But who is Galina really?!!! We may never know, as Galina (we have no idea what her real name is, obviously) doesn't speak English. Or Italian, much to the dismay of all the horny Italian divers who have tried to flirt with her. We don't know what we will talk about when Galina leaves. The Albina is not nearly so much fun to speculate about- plus he sits really close to me and speaks good English. B has a bad habit of speaking in English when he should be extra discreet about what he is saying. If Albino is a mobster, like I suspect, B might end up having a tragic fishing accident on the boat tonight, I fear...
This isn't Paradise Island, its more like Fantasy Island I guess. What was the little guys name? Now that I think about, the average Maldivian male, who normally weighs in at about 80 pounds and probably only makes 5 foot in his tall shoes, would be a dead ringer for that guy. Now, if Charo shows up at at the crab races tonight I will know something is up.