East of Dili at sunset
After sorting out the visa palaver, I legged it back to the hostel but had already missed Andy. I’d promised I’d help with three first-time divers and wasn’t going to let him down. Fortunately, I knew where the dive was to be so I jumped in a taxi and $3 later I was back at Bali Rock outside the city.
Andy was just giving the dive briefing when I got there so there was no problem with my tardiness. Our group was a dad and his son and daughter who were all fresh from the classroom and doing their skills in a pool – this was their first time diving in open water. Mum had decided to stick to important tasks like providing water and sandwiches.
The first dive was predominantly an orientation. Buddy check, swimming technique, how to sink, basic buoyancy underwater, a chance to feel the need for equalising pressures and so on. On the whole, they did quite well. The kids definitely picked things up faster than their father but that’s really not unusual – try and get a 40 year-old to learn to ride a bike. An 8 year-old will take to it far faster.
We saw some good stuff and the son was definitely in his element, really getting excited about seeing so many things.
After a quick break for water and pressure group relief, we took to the water again and practised again. This time, some basic exercises were completed at 6m – mask removal, regulator recovery and so forth. Back on the surface, weight belts and BCDs were removed and replaced.
A short dive, but more time in the water and a great bit of experience for me. Andy, as I’ve mentioned before, is a good instructor. Very patient, but firm, and knowledgeable. I’ve already told him I’ll help out on Wednesday as well when they do their third and fourth dives.
Now I know I’ll have my passport back on Wednesday, I can get the bus out on Thursday or later. I’ve already checked flight prices and Merpati (the easiest to book within East Timor) are cheapest by far on Sunday.
Outside a park in Dili
The Merpati office I was told about is inside “Hotel Timor”, the posh place along the main road where the UN staff stay. Enter the main doors, bear left towards the bar, but take a right just before it. It’s down that corridor. [NOTE: this is not the actual Merpati office. See tomorrow’s post for details]
The chap there said he’d check the prices for Saturday and Sunday. Whichever was cheapest, he’d reserve at that price, and send us an email (by “us” I mean myself and the German girl, Kathryn, I was walking around with). He’d be able to hold the price until tomorrow.
My likely plans are diving tomorrow, helping Andy on Wednesday, motorbiking Thursday, bus to Kupang on Friday, whole day in Kupang on Saturday, and fly to Bali on Sunday. I’ll have three days before Leah arrives to perhaps do some more divemastering – and then I’m going to try and get her on a discovery dive or maybe even a full Open Water course.
After the flight check, we walked through a few shops and found a refugee village south of (I think) the Portuguese UN Mission. Basically a lot of houses and a lot of stalls, Kathryn stopped at almost every one to buy part of her shopping – dinner for her and the two guys she’s travelling with. Sweet potatoes here, chillis there, a 1 litre $3 bottle of whisky from somewhere else…
What a smile!
Every time we stopped, we drew a small crowd of local children who all smiled and looked cute. There’s a photo up here of a little girl carrying water bottles who just broke my heart. Absolutely gorgeous and with the most amazing smile. Everyone was ridiculously friendly and helpful, partly I’m sure because Kathryn knows how to ask for prices in the local lingo.
And thence back to the hostel where I went for a shower… then gave up when I found there was no water. Grr. By the time the tanks refill it’ll be night-time and the water will be cold!
Matt (@Vanalli from Twitter) popped over for the beer I owed him. Always good – as ever – to put a face to an email address, or a Twitter account.
There’s a good group here now and I think we’ll be sharing that whisky around after dinner. Andy’s due some time to sort out arrangements for tomorrow and I will try to wash at some point.