This is actually quite late, I spent the last week rolling the events around in the old bean and didn't really want to write about it right away.
I spent parts of this day 80-90 feet under the surface of the water in the gulf of mexico, getting my PADI Advanced Open Water scuba certification. The first dive was down to the cabin of a ship that was sunk for the reef project. It was the deep dive portion of the AOW training, down to 97 feet.
We dropped from the boat, into the water about 19 miles off shore. Far enough that I couldn't see land. One quick step from the boat and I was in. Mask adjusted, fins tweaked, then I looked down.
Red light is stripped away underwater, and particulates both reflect and refract blue light back to you - so physics tells us. Physics cannot, however, tell you about a world gone blue, bubbles rushing up to a reflective ceiling. About the weightless feeling of neutral bouyancy with no reference points except for a rope leading down towards the bottom, with divers strung out below you for the three or four stories that you can see downwards.
Erik, our instructor Wayne and myself drifted down towards the rope, more like flying than anything, and swam down to the wreck. At about 80 feet we hit a solid wall of bait fish, stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions. The divers that were below this wall each had a little bubble of empty water around them, and were noticable more for the lack of fish that their own shapes inside these bubbles.
At the top of the wreck where we dropped to our knees to hear what wayne had to teach us, wayne had to turn erik around to look behind us - a 600 pound fish, about the size of a cow, was swimming up lazily through the bait fish, came to within a foot of my legs and stopped. It's mouth could have swallowed my head, prolly would have had troubles with my shoulders, but given the size of it's head, it probably could have cracked the bones in those easily enough. It waited about half a minute then swam off. We spent the rest of the first dive swimming alongside the wreck.
The second dive was down to a span of a bridge that was replaced in Panama city - also sunk as part of the reef project. The bridge was crusted with oysters, swarmed with angelfish and crawled upon by these tiny baseball sized stick limbed black crabs with florescent blue claws. Both Erik and myself, talking about it later, were impressed by the diversity and appearance of the life that we saw on the second dive, knowing that it represented a millionth of a millionth part of the life in that area...
The third dive was short, we hit the no decompression limit time, and we soon had to come back up - as certified divers.
Since sunday I haven't really been thinking about it, just sort of trying to hold on to that feeling of floating in a world of blue, surrounded by things I had never seen before with the wrong set of senses for the environment and devices strapped on to me to allow me to be mobile there. I've been trying to keep that vivid inside me, and justify working on a computer 40 hours a week in alabama. It has not been easy.