I got up early and shoveled a cereal bar in my face as I packed all my things. I still wasn’t convinced diving today was a good idea but I’d been looking forward to it for so long I was going to take my chances.
I walked down to the dive shop and was directed where I could leave my luggage. My equipment was pointed out to me and I was instructed to wheel it up the dock to the boat. I got unloaded, set up my equipment, and stared wide-eyed as the rest of the divers did the same. I didn’t see the guy who had helped me the day before, or the shop owner who had been my point of contact. Was there anyone on this boat that spoke English? In most situations this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but when you’re diving you really need to understand what’s going on before you get in the water. And why are there people smoking on the boat?
I was relieved to find Stephania was on the boat. There were also several women that spoke English that I befriended pretty early. The Dive Master, Matias (yet another hot Italian), spoke a bit of English and was my buddy for the day.
I had taken a Dramamine equivalent that morning. Friends of mine have no doubt heard the tale of me being seasick in the sea. I’ve not done a lot of boat dives but my first one in Australia did not go well. I was hoping to avoid a repeat.
It was about a 40 minute cruise to our dive spot, Giannutri Marine Reserve. The water was bumpy along the way and it was another scorching hot day. I was ready to get out of the sun and into the water!
I wasn’t feeling 100% as I plummeted into the cool water, but I was hoping getting out of the sun would help. The water was so clear and there were fish everywhere. A scene that is much different than what you experience diving in the PNW. As warned the temperatures dropped quite a bit once you pass through the thermocline. I was enjoying the scenery enough I wasn’t interested in calling off the dive.
Matias and I floated around a “sea mountain” then down near the floor where we found an octopus out in the open. He was cleverly camouflaged to match the environment but having experience diving with the octopus whisperer (LeAnne) it wasn’t hard for me to spot.
I was feeling zen with little fishing floating up close to say hello. We ascended back into warmer water where found lots of grasses and kelp hiding more critters. My mind was saying “this is awesome!” but the signal coming from my stomach was not so good. I tapped on my buddies arm and signaled to him that something was wrong with my stomach. Luckily all language barriers are overcome when you’re using hand signals.
He signaled back toward the cooler water without so much stuff swaying in the water. Ah, that’s better. I was thankful for his quick thinking.
We carried on for awhile longer, joining with a class that was identifying fish. They pointed out a huge grouper and some other things I probably would have completely missed.
I signaled my buddy that I’d hit the 100 bar mark with my air and we headed back toward the boat. It had been a really good dive for me. I got out of my head, enjoyed my surroundings, and felt like I kept my buoyancy in really good check. What I did not realize is we were going to have to go back through the shallow water with all the swaying stuff to get back to the boat. He signaled to me to look up instead of looking at the sea floor. This seemed to help but the queasy sensation is distracting and my buoyancy suffered. I popped to the top. For a moment I was thankful to have my head above water, thinking that would help me feel better. No so much. The chop being generated by the waves hitting the rocky island shore and bouncing back was actually worse than the wavy grass. I lost it. Seasick in the sea for the second time. Again, with a patient dive buddy and a boat full of divers as an audience. Sigh!
After I regained my composure he told me we should descend to get the to boat. I’m pretty sure he got the look of death and I told him he could if he wanted but I was staying on the surface. We weren’t that far away. Several swift kicks and I was climbing onto the boat. Unfortunately I was not a lot calmer there than in the water. I took off all my gear and just sat staring at the horizon hoping that would help.
There should have been a dive 2 but I never really did recover from dive 1. I decided I’d stick with the misery I knew. I was tempted to at least get in the water and snorkel, but sat in the shade instead. It was a really long afternoon. Several people checked on me every now and then. I really appreciated their show of concern.
Eventually we made our way back to Porto Ercole. I’ve gotten so used to going out for food/drinks after diving it felt weird to me to just say goodbye and walk away from the boat. I stopped by the shop to grab my things then made my way to the bus station. It was time to head to Rome!
By some stroke of luck I got on the right bus AND it took me directly to the train station. Boarded the proper train and was met in Rome by my host. It was a long and interesting day.