November was busy enough, pretty busy at some point even. But slowly we are reaching the time of year when the island is getting emptier, quieter. First rain has arrived, earlier than I expected. A bunch of friends have left, because work is becoming scarce for freelancers, and they went and see in other places in the world what is happening. Having more time on my hands, I started writing properly again, although I am working on two things at the same time and I am not sure if any of them are going to end up being anything good. We'll see. After all, the journey matters as much as the end result, or something.
All in all, November was good. Diving pretty much everyday, teaching a lot. I also turned a year older like every November. It didn't make me feel bad. It's funny how aging used to be a thing I thought about a bit too much, and how now I don't really care. I just turned 35 and I am totally fine with it.
Funnily enough, November was the month of teaching girls' teams. First pair were two sisters, super lovely girls, having so much fun together underwater like only sisters can do. Giggling at each other in the pool, sticking their tongue out to each other when taking their regulator out, that kind of stuff. One of them was a school teacher, she didn't tell me that until the last day when she told me "You are a really good teacher, I feel like we went through this fast enough but that whenever I needed you gave me all the time in the world". Well, thanks!
The next pair of girls were friends, housemates even, a couple of med students. Super cool girls too, who were genuinely amazed at everything underwater and asking me a billion questions about fish and stuff. One of them had a bit of trouble getting through the mask thing and kept apologizing about it like it was the worst thing in the world, when I kept saying it was OK to get back in the pool and do it over and over again. She finally managed to do it and was so proud of herself it was really cute.
Last pair of girls were friends too, and had both had crappy diving experiences before so they were pushing each other to do the course and get it done, as an achievement. Except that for the first time in a long time, one of them bailed out on me. Pool went fine, we were ready for the dives and then I got really sick, so my colleague Jo took them out for the first two dives. When they came back, Jo told me one of them was giving up, she couldn't stay down for more than 5 minutes. After having a chat with the student, it turned out she was involved in a bad car accident a couple of years ago and the car ended up in the water in a river nearby while she was still in it. Well, I can see why that would give you panick attacks, really. We nevertheless finished the theory, I gave her paperwork so she could go and finish the course if she wanted to, and she told me "I still have time traveling, I might just come back to see you and try again". I hope she does.
Another fun experience was to rescue a half-drowned snorkeler from the waters, totally "Baywatch" style. So here I am on one of these previously mentioned Open Water courses, minding my own business at Pontoon, one of our dive sites here mainly used for training. As its name would indicate, it has several pontoons in shallow waters, used mainly by day-cruise boats from Bali to bring a bunch of people to snorkel, ride on banana boats and that kind of crap. So for a few hours each day that place is crammed with people. Anyway, back to my story. So I am getting student 1 in the water while student 2 is getting ready with our Divemaster trainee Jenia. I surface from the first emergency ascent exercise, swim towards the boat when Jenia tells me "there is a woman on that pontoon over there that doesn't look too good". Indeed, there seems to be a bit of a commotion going on and a woman lying flat on her back at the pontoon 50 mts away. So I sigh, take my gear off and swims there, I politely offer my help to the two locals guys who are trying to deal with it and who accept my help gratefully. They pulled the woman out of her lifejacket already (and how can you drown yourself while wearing a life jacket, you wonder? I REALLY don't know!), she is breathing, barely conscious, eyes rolling and faint pulse. Great. There a a bunch of other Chinese snorkelers standing and watching so I asked them to back off except for one that speaks English, and then I am trying to tell that woman to breathe. I am starting to worry she is totally going to lose consciouness when she starts coughing and I think "here we go...". I ask the guys to sit her up and sure thing she starts puking everywhere (including on my wetsuit), poor thing must have swallowed a couple of liters of seawater before anyone noticed she was having trouble. So puking ensues, for quite a while, until it stops and she seems a bit better and she drinks a bit of water and starts breathing better too. Meanwhile, somebody has called the doctor or nurse on duty for the boat cruise so when the medic finally shows up, I take off and get back to my business.
Then, end of November turned quiet suddenly and it was time for some FUN diving. We had a great couple of days fun diving in new places, a day around the islands here in new sites, and another day diving around Bali. There is so much difference in taking people diving and just fun diving with someone you know. How wonderful it is to not have to care about someone's air, or what they are doing, or if they can swim in a downcurrent. I didn't doubt it much but it turns out Jo and I are a great buddy team. We understand each other without talking, she swims around fast like she does and finds cool stuff for me to take pictures of and then waits around for me patiently, she laughs when I go "Ooooh" in my reg when she finds a cool nudi and she is giving me space.
Looks like we are all set for our little diving holiday tomorrow. I am going back to Bira after almost two years. Some of you know why it is a special place to me and I feel now it is time to go back.
Then it will be time to go back to France for a couple of months, which I am really excited about, but I am also dreading my last winter in over two years and being away from the sea and the fish for a few weeks. To be continued...