Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Snorkeling Excursion

Date - Friday, 11 February 2005
Place - Oman Dive Center.

My last experience with snorkeling was quite a quick one. Or probably I felt it swooping past as that was my first experience with it. But it definitely left me aspiring for more. And so there I was again at the Oman Dive Center for another snorkeling excursion.
Here in Oman, Fridays are the days to enjoy as you really dont get much time over the weekdays (Fridays are the weekends in all the gulf countries). So I was up early morning on a Friday, ready and reached the Dive center at around 8:30 in the morning.

We had the boats waiting for us. So just some moments renting the equipment and we were off.

The sea seemed to be very rough that day. Unlike my previous experience, we had big waves and you could really feel the boat to be just a small spec in the sea... It could barely manage to move over the waves. So, needless to say, we were going quite slow.
(I later discovered that this phenomenon of rough sea was called Rebalses. It when the sea becomes really rough just following the full moon or new moon day. More info at - http://www.tomzap.com/rebalses.html)

Mermaid Bay
The Mermaid Bay

Some 15-20 mins later, we approached our first snorkeling destination. That was the Mermaid Bay. I don't know why the mermaids, but the geographical shape of that place definitely suggested a bay. It was the sea running between a wide gap between the two mountains. And whilst we had to stop our boat in the midst of the sea you could see the land at a distance and feel the waves literally playing with the boat.

I must admit I had to really gather the guts to dive in there. Especially when you see the waves jumping over 10 feet high in the air. Nevertheless, feeling very stupid about my fear, I decided to jump in.
Once in the water, that was a tough experience. Never before in my life have I swam in a sea so rough !Being quite new to snorkeling and much because of the rough sea, I just could not breath with the snorkel. So I just took it off in my hands and there I was, with the mask and snorkel in one hand and my underwater camera in the other. Trying to reach the coast.
After moments of tough swimming, while still in the middle of the sea, I just realized something.
I had lost my snorkel. Gosh ! I don't know what next ?
Would I be able to do some snorkeling at the next site ?
If not, all the things that I spent on this trip were waste.
And what if they asked me to pay for it ? How much would that cost ?
After some fruitless attempts to search for it in the midst of the sea, I just gave up and swam to the cost.

There was no way we could see anything under the water (even with the masks on). The visibility was too low. Again thanks to the rough weather.So then I just spent a few minutes on the coast and again started back to the boat. On the way, I did keep looking for the snorkel, but just without luck.
Back in the boat, I started feeling that it was really a bad trip and that I should've come some other time. At least the weather would've been fine. The boat was just rocking over the water and thats again when I had some experience for the first time in my life. I guess that was what they called being sea-sick...
Notwithstanding, I just kept normal and we moved ahead for some coffee break.

After a few minutes, we were again back in the tides and before long, we were out of the rough sea.
The place was in midst of the mountains.
It was like a part of the sea that has come in to reside with the mountains.

I must say that makes a beautiful and scenic sight even to just look at.
The sea was calm as we were all safely behind the mountains, of course while still in the sea. That was an amazing destination.
The natural arrangement of the mountains and hillocks and the sea has created a number of small beaches there. Its like a perfect dream destination for somebody who just wants to get out and unwind. It's like you have innumerous private beaches of your own. Just get a yatch and reach out for one of those; and you know you are far far from the world in a complete different world of itself.

So there we were, on one of such beaches. Enjoying a nice coffee in the sun. After a short coffee break, we were again off for another destination. This time, we had taken care to chose a destination that would not be affected by the rough weather. Needless to say, again in the midst of those mountains. A cool calm sea.

It was the Rock Island !
Its like a big rock right in the middle of the sea. Beneath it you have beautiful fishes, corels and the sea flora.

Preapring for another dive, I just got all my things ready. Everything was right, the camera, the fins, the mask. Oh well, I dint had the snorkels.
"Never mind" said one of the boatmen, "there are a few spare in the boat, you can just grab one of them. When we go back to the mermaid bay next time, we will try to find it out"
Ah. that eases me out a bit. So now, its all ready. All set, and time for a jump.

This time, it was a lot easier. The water was calm, placid.
And it was just proper for some good snorkeling time.
As I went below the water, all I could see was sand and I wondered if I will see something good here?
I decided to try the right side.
On the right, you had the corels showing up. There I got my first snap. Further ahead, you could see the sand forming a pathway between the corels. It looked just amazing. But still I could not see much of the fishes.
Desperate, I started checking out on the left side.
And there was a sight that I was waiting for. It seemed like all the efforts that I had taken were fruitful.A splendid cluster of corels and a lot of baracudas just cruising past. Yes thats exactly what I wanted to see.
Small white fishes going past. They will quickly hide themselves in the corels if you head towards them.Finding them, Chasing them and looking at more, it was a great time.
Going further away from the rock, there was a wide variety of colors. All in different colors. The sea bottom started going down. It was deep there and hence the visibility reduced.

I started going towards the rock and decided to stick there. Beneath the rock, you could see a lot of tiger fishes. They usually move in big swarms and are a very common sight in such places.After clicking a few snaps with these guys, I just kept on moving ahead. There you had the Arabian butterflies. Bright orange fishes with black tails. That was a wonderful sight. It was a pair of Arabian butterflies romancing around.You could easily tell them cuddled upto each other.

As I moved ahead, I was lucky enough to catch a sight of the bigger fishes, about a foot long.
Everything was so well-balanced , so harmonious. All was fine in their world.

I looked out of the water for a change and discovered that they were calling us back. The boat had hosted the flag and it meant that we were to head back. So that was it.As I went over towards the boat, I got a last picture. This time, out of the water.
That was my boat.

For a moment it felt like an end of an adventure. But then I realized, it was just a start of a sweet, long lasting memory.

As I climbed up the boat and we headed to the dive center, I had a feeling of accomplishment.
A feeling that still lasts. It was certainly a great trip.

Little do we know what lies beneath the surface when we normally cruise on the waters.
Its a whole new world out there as beautiful or probably much much more beautiful than its terrestrial counterpart.
Its something that we cannot really imagine. A pure, virgin world where everything is just perfect.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

First Day at Blogging

And there starts my blog.
Lots of things to write down...
So here I go.