First dives in East Timor

Everyone's a critic

Everyone's a critic

I found a local bakery doing brightly-coloured cakes and picked up a couple for breakfast. Maybe not healthy, but I’m on holiday so I don’t care. Andrew was waiting for me when I got back and we had a short chat then jumped into the car with Krystal and Catherine (I think – apologies as ever for my pathetic memory for names), two sisters from Brisbane.

They’re here doing voluntary work up in the hills and usually only make it down at the weekends. They’ve been taking their Open Water with Andrew and the group seemed to get along well. Andy’s an easy chap to talk to with a wealth of experience. Hailing from South Africa, he’s doing contract work out here and diving around it predominantly on the weekends.

As I was partly assisting, I didn’t get to spend as much time looking at the scenery as I’d normally hope. However, I worked my way up to Divemaster for a few reasons and one of them was so I could help out with things like this and I really enjoyed it. The girls have much better eyesight than Andy or I, so in between practise exercises and working on buoyancy they spotted some excellent examples of aquatic life.

Lionfish

Lionfish

Pick of the bunch was probably the school of lion fish. Usually you see one or two of these at most. If  you’re lucky. We found a group of five. Also in the area are scorpion fish, stone fish and many other types that don’t actually hurt if you touch them. Krystal also spotted a ray buried under the sand.

Including a surface break for refreshments and de-toxing, we were out until early afternoon. The girls were very receptive to criticism and pointers and had visibly improved from the first dive to the second. As with many starting divers, their main issue was one of buoyancy. Hopefully the advice I gave will help them and they’ll keep the hobby up. Living in Brisbane, they’re only a short hop away from some excellent sites back home.

On the way back, Andy mentioned he had a group on Monday – a father and two 15-year old boys – and would I like to help out? No charge, obviously. Pope. Poop. Woods. This is why I did the Divemaster course! So that’s Monday morning sorted.

Stone fish

Stone fish

The girls were supposed to reappear to collect some of the photos, but I’ve been sat here for two hours now so I guess they changed their minds. No worries – ladies, you have my email. Drop me a line and I’ll post the pics somewhere you can get the full-resolution versions from! [Update – they passed by quickly on their way to Mass – hope you weren’t too late!]

My plan currently is to spend Sunday around the surrounding area on a motorbike ($25 including fuel from the hostel). Monday for the dives and in the afternoon I’ll pop my passport in for a new Indonesian visa. I’ve calculated it’s far cheaper to do the reverse trip than to fly directly back to Bali. It’s more of a pain to sort, but it’ll save me around $150. It’s not like I don’t have the time!

Scorpion fish

Scorpion fish

I may head off into the countryside on Tuesday and Wednesday, just for the change. With luck, my visa should be collectable by Wednesday or Thursday and then I can sort out my return bus and a flight from Kupang to Bali.

All I need now is a non-ANZ ATM so I don’t get screwed for $2 with every withdrawal. ANZ – you’re evil. If I ever move to Oz, rest assured I’m not banking with you. Oh, and a cybercafe with a working printer. I have to have a printout of my flight tickets for my visa application. More details on the visa farce shortly. Seriously, they make it like drawing teeth.

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