The Bubbles We Hear
The bubbles We Hear by Oliver Gautschi
It’s Wednesday morning, 7.30 a.m. Honey porridge and bread slowly start digesting the time we make our way to the dive shed just a few steps away from the dining table. We soak up the well-known smells of our daily work, the rubber of still wet wetsuits from the previous day (thanks, humidity), old wood, fresh applied sunscreen and oil from the compression machines. Grab by grab we collect our gear until we have our jacket in the right size, regulator, fins, mask and snorkel, air tank, writing slate, surface marker buoy and weight belt together. The fight with the wetsuit begins. Sand is scratching on the skin. A pull. Not enough. One more. Nothing moved. Get some water, make it smooth. Pull. Yes! One leg is done. Just one more leg, two arms and the upper body left. Easy. We get prepared for the buddy check, put tank and jacket on the back, weights around our hips and suddenly we feel as if we were giving someone a piggy back. Check completed, we are ready to go. With a whip to the left, a whip to the right we slowly make our way to the dive boat with a gently accompaniment of a monotonous orchestra of weights and a tank as a cold, irony base. The booties are squishing in offbeat rhythm. Clips are opened again, weights loosened, tanks stored. With the life vest in hand we head out to the deep.
The water is shaky, the stomach maybe too. The busy beehive gets on its legs, carefully placing feet on the boat, trying to find balance to avoid an unplanned, unexpected dip in the blue. One by one we start looking like divers again, strap the tank back on, spite on the mask’s glass to prevent a foggy adventure and the countdown begins. 1 – 2 – 3 – Splash! Like artist we roll backwards from the boat, with the head in front we dunk in the sea. The pig on the back disappears, the water is offering us a comfy lift. Water flushes through the airy spaces between skin and the rubbery cover, giving us an enjoyable, cold shudder while the remaining air heads up our back in bubbles, tickling like a dozen flies walking on it.
Thumbs down, we like that sign! The dive can begin. We relieve the air in our jackets from captivity and our chin, mask, ears and hair slowly goes from dry to wet, from over to under sea level. The adventure starts with our usual senses turned upside down. Our arms, hands and fingers, on surface our most useful tools, turn to wobbly, mostly useless bits and slowly turning pruny like our grandparents’. The lungs replace parts of our footwork, up and down heavily relies on them, and the eyes are confronted with unseen shapes and creatures in all different colours. The nose is degraded to one single function: equalization. And finally, strange sounds find its way to the eardrum and we are unable to localise the origin or what object/animal/human is responsible for.
1.5 meters down, time to equalize the first time. Squeeze the nose wings and blow the nose, a prickly sound appears like fire crackers blew up by the neighbour’s kid back home on a Sunday morning while we are still lying in bed. Suddenly a noise is cutting our Darth Vader breathing sound. PFUUUT – Someone is blowing air in his jacket. DING DING DING – metal on metal, torch on tank. The common diving sign to get someone’s attention. There’s something to see! Is it a white tip shark? A turtle? Oh – a coral we have to name. Finally an action for our hands to make notes for the surveys, turning our thoughts into text on a plastic slate. The unusual surrounding and the different resistance in water turns our normal terrible handwriting even worse. Like this we go on for another 45 minutes.
70 bars air left in the tank, time to go up. The fire crackers in our ears are back while making our way up to the surface. On 5 meters the buoyance is practiced to perfection, for 3 minutes we feel like Buddha, smoothly sitting with crossed legs in the salty water. We watch our computer to check the depth and time or observe little plankton dancing on the other side of our mask glass. In the background the deep blue nothing gives you the opportunity to dream about the wonderful things you’ve just seen and the ones still outstanding on your diving bucketing list. The surface comes closer and then the head is out, the eyes sharply heading left and right, attempting to spot the coast, the boat, our way to go. We remove our mouthpiece and take a deep, fresh breath. And we think: this dive was beautiful. As usual.
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