We stayed in a traditional Arab home owned by a couple that worked with Pavilion Dive Centre by hosting their students every time they were on a trip to Musandam. The house had a huge courtyard in the middle which we used to barbecue our meat and veggies before snuggling up in blankets and watching documentaries about ocean conservation. The white walls with baby blue trims of the property added to the oceanic mood, that and the heavenly perfume of the ocean accompanied by the music provided by the waves.
We woke up at 6am so we could take advantage of the overflow of fish by the reefs. We got in our bathing suits and walked over to the pier, passing piles and piles of fisherman’s bounty. I do not need to explain how that smelt, I am sure all of you have experienced the smell of dead fish before. We got all the tanks into the cabinet within the floor of the dhow (which is an Arab sailing vessel) so they wouldn’t roll and cause the boat to sway more than it needed to. We hung our BCD’s and tucked our fins and snorkels within the straps of the jacket, tying them secure with our weight belts. And then we set off. Ernst gave us the usual security rundown and rules of etiquette for once we were underwater. This time we had to listen because this was no longer practice runs in the pool, and considering the giant tigers sharks and hammerheads that were caught in the markets we passed, we definitely needed to be aware of how respectful we had to be considering we were intruding their habitat. And we all know nature’s instinctual reaction when they comes across beings that are unlike themselves coming to their home.
We arrived at our dive point, helped anchor the boat, and got our gear on. BCD, check. Oxygen tank, check. Weight belt, check. Fins and Snorkel, check. I put my regulator in my mouth and snorkels over my eyes, inflated my BCD, held on to my weights and walked over to the edge of the boat. I turned, back facing the ledge of the boat, and stepped onto the ledge. I held the mask and regulator with my left hand, weights and oxygen meter against my belly with the right, and took the leap.
The sea water tingled against my freshly shaved legs as each proceeding inch of me got submerged in the large, never-ending expanse of the ocean’s mouth. And then I took my first breath. No one remembers his or her first breath coming into this world. I will never forget my first breath I took going into their world. Instead of seeing bright lights (which is what I assume one would see being born into this world), I saw a magnificent display of colors. The colors of the light beams shining through the surface of the water was the first, followed by more colors provided by nature, unlike anything I have ever seen anywhere on land. It did not feel like I was still on earth, but rather, exploring another planet so different to mine. Seeing those fish swim through the light rays and watching them glisten was magical. They were creatures like no other, and seeing each of their scales shine the way it did made them take on this supernatural persona. And as if witnessing this magic unfold wasn’t enough, the silence of the ocean brought chills down my spine. I have been meditating more consistently for about a year and a half now. But nothing compares to the peace of mind I get when I am submerged underwater surrounded by the beauty of marine life along with the silence of the ocean. You don’t hear anything but the inhalation and exhalation of your own breathe as you glide through the depths of the ocean. It will always blow my mind how there can be such pure silence down there despite the abundance of marine life. I remember Ernst being a little concerned that I was not taking up as much oxygen compared to the others because my tank still had so much oxygen left. But I genuinely feel so mesmerized each time I visit their world I would literally forget to breathe because of how awestruck I was. I know not far from now we are going to be able to travel to other planets in order to experience another world, but I don’t think we need a rocket to quench that wanderlust. There is one just past the warm grains of sand right outside your doorstep that I promise will feel out of this world. Just go take your first breath, I promise an experience like no other.