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How A Bold Instructor Taught Me To Breath Underwater

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I discovered an old notebook from one of my early trips to Bali in 2004.  It caused me to be excited about the upcoming journey in 2013 with the community in Palm Desert, CA to Bali again.  The customs experience is much improved now; nevertheless, it was interesting to visit the memory of our early trip.

"The Bali Hyatt is beautiful.  Our guide, Ketut (John) picked us up at the airport where the customs experience was interesting.  It took us over one hour to get through and all the while waiting bold signs reminded travelers ominously that the penalty for drug or arms trafficking is death.  Once through, travelers are preyed upon by airport porters who assume an official posture encouraging passengers to think they are being singled out by officers on official business.  What they are trying to do is carry the luggage and get a tip.  At the hotel we decompressed by walking on the clean and serene beach and then through the town of Sanur. We ate at Ketut's recommended restaurant where I suggested Chris have the traditional Nasi Goreng, fried rice, fried egg, satay, sometimes fried chicken.  Chris would later call this Nasty Goreng, because I ordered it all the time, and not because
it isn't tasty.  One evening we tried a local alcohol called Arak which to me tastes a bit like paraffin and gasoline.  It warmed us up though for the walk back to the hotel and braced us for the tropical storm we encountered.  We stood under an awning of a store and watched street vendors rapidly take shelter.  Since it seemed like the storm would last longer than the typical few minutes we had become used to we stepped into a "Bali-wood", a happy bar where the musician sang American standards.  Later we would discover that American standards are well loved and sung just about everywhere tourists gather.  We don't, however, encounter many tourists from the US, mostly Japanese, Russian and Australian travelers.

"On Wednesday morning we were picked up from the hotel and transferred to the harbor for our catamaran cruise to Lembongan Island.  On the trip we struck up a friendly conversation with Agung, another Agung, one of the limited numbers of names for children in Bali.  He was impressed that we knew about the upcoming and significant festival next Tuesday.  Ketut had told us all about it, and Agung added his explanation that every Hindu home would soon be displaying crescent shaped pennants called banjars.  Agung invited us to his home to celebrate the festival with traditional eating of pork and other festivities, but our schedule didn't allow it.  When we got to the pontoon we decided to go on an introductory scuba dive.  The briefing was brief, but excellent, and I became increasingly more comfortable with the idea of breathing underwater, at least I thought I was becoming less anxious about it.  That is, until the water closed over my head and utter fear, close to panic, wrapped itself around my thinking and I wanted nothing more than to get out of the water.  Given that I had only been under the water for 3 seconds, the instructor thought it premature for me to give up and calmly pushed me back in the water.  Not kidding.  He just smiled at me and pushed my head underwater.

I am glad for his encouragement because what followed was 45 minutes of bliss like nothing I had experienced before.  I breather underwater and saw an amazing world.  Typical, he told me later, of people who are hesitant to go in, I was hesitant to get out when our time was up.

"Afterwards I reflected on how important it is for me that the instructor encouraged me.  He put courage into me by his own confidence and also by his trust that I would manage, and also by his holding my hand for the first ten minutes in the water."

To read more articles about Bali

Alternative Way To Celebrate New Year Balinese Style

Remembering Bali Through Pictures

What You'll Find In A Balinese Garden

Spaghetti Balinese and Kay-Sidellas

The Sounds of Morning In Bali





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