Over the past few weeks, we’ve grown accustomed to the quiet anchorages and rural villages in the undeveloped parts of Indonesia that few people ever think about, let alone visit. From our new position here on Gili Trawanga, one of the rapidly developing touristic islands just east of Bali, we have to remind ourselves we haven’t actually left Indonesia, because pretty much everything else about our daily experience has been flipped on its head. In the Gili islands, the tourism trade dominates the local economy, meaning the place is filled to the brim with beach bars, dive centers, Balinese clothing stores, and water taxis, mainly shuttling people among the islands and to Bali, just 50 miles away. And with the arrival of our Italian friends, Lisa and Mara, we’ve found ourselves here with all the ingredients for a little break from our normal routine…. we’d call it a “holiday”, but we’re afraid some people just wouldn’t understand.
Ever since we began free diving as we crossed the Pacific with Tarzan last year, there’s been a little seed planted in our minds that going deeper below the surface is something we’d like to start doing. In a freedive, you’re limited to a single breath, which for us keeps us within 10-15 meters of the surface and less than a minute underwater. Scuba divers enjoy dives up to an hour and can easily go to 30 meters or more, where things often become much more interesting than near the surface. But Scuba diving requires training and certification – you have no chance of renting equipment or filling a tank without proper certs – and we’ve never taken the time. Our time in the Gilis gave us a perfect opportunity to fix that deficiency. And even though we didn’t need any more hobbies, our first few dives were enough to get us addicted.
We were lucky to choose to do our certification course at Dream Dives, because the staff there came to feel like family after a few days, and the training pool slowly morphed into a swimming pool and our favorite hangout spot on the island. Once the Italians showed up and began mingling with the Dream Dives crew, they couldn’t believe their luck – they’d been looking for models for their new ad campaign, and apparently the Italians were exactly what they were looking for. So as the sun went down behind Bali’s volcano in the distance, we enjoyed our fifteen minutes of fame as the cameras flashed and we pretended to know what we were doing. Just another experience we won’t soon forget.
So with time again limited and lots to see in the surrounding islands, we’re pressing on from Trawanga but planning a return stop here before leaving Indonesia – the dive locations are simply too good, and we still need one more day of training before we’re fully certified for open water dives. But for now, it’s next stop: Bali.