Thursday, June 10, 2010

GREAT Barrier Reef

We’re back from the liveaboard and Will and I both agree that it was totally worth the money (even though I only did seven of the 11 dives; more on that later). They were long days that went like this: dive, eat, sleep, repeat three more times. Days one and two consisted of four dives, including a night dive on each day, and day three there were three dives.

For the first dive, Will and I both ran out of air pretty early, with our dives only lasting about 23 minutes. We had to get our dive feet (flippers?) back on and get used to things. By dive two we were feeling more comfortable and it just kept getting better from there. Our air was lasting longer, our buoyancy control was greater, and we were able to goof off a bit and have some fun. This was the first time that I was diving with a dive buddy that I knew and now I kinda think that I’d prefer a known dive buddy in the future. Particularly on longer dives where we’d seen pretty much all there was to see but we wanted to still make the most of the air left in our tanks, that’s when we’d start chasing each other, doing flips and twirls, and taking out regulators to stick out tongues. You know, general silliness.

Eventually it came time for the first night dive. Perhaps you’ll remember that I have a fear of dark water and this was one of the reasons that I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to scuba dive. Coincidentally, I was feeling a bit feverish just before the night dive on the first day, so I decided to sit out that dive. People asked me why I wasn’t diving and I said that I wasn’t feeling well. Oh, and that I was a little bit terrified. J I figured the fever was the universe’s way of telling me that I wasn’t ready for a night dive yet.

How could I possibly detail every dive or everything that we did for the past three days? I couldn’t so you get highlights instead:

* Day two, dive three. We rented a digital underwater camera and Will was in charge of taking as many pictures as he could. He got pictures and video of a sea turtle, including a few seconds of video that had me and the turtle in it. I also got some funny shots of Will wearing sunglasses underwater.

* Day two, dive four, night dive. Yes, I actually went on a night dive. Can you believe it? Because I can hardly believe it myself and I was there. I made Will promise not to leave my side, whether we were underwater or on the surface. Will saw a lot more on the first night dive – shark, lionfish, turtles, baler shell, huge potato cods – but on the second dive that I was on, we saw a hawksbill sea turtle that the divemaster described as being the largest he’d ever seen. It swam right past us and we got a really good look at him, we didn’t have to search for him sleeping in a cave or anything.

* The accommodations and food. The rooms were small but comfortable and we had a nice view of the ocean and sunset every night. As for the food, in addition to three daily meals, there were snacks, coffee, and tea available all the time. There were a couple of misses (the powdered eggs for breakfast one morning comes to mind), but for the most part the food was actually pretty good.

* The ProDive staff. I highly recommend this dive shop if anyone has the opportunity to dive or snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. Everyone was really nice and very helpful. Tim and Dan in particular had awesome personalities and were just fun guys.

So I mentioned that I only did seven out of 11 dives. The fever that I had on the first night was back in full force not long after we returned from the night dive on day two. Luckily Will had prescription strength ibuprofen with him so I was sucking those down, but I still decided to opt out of all of the dives on the last day. Will had to find a new dive buddy and I spent the majority of the day sleeping in my cabin.

When we got back to Cairns I figured it would probably be a good idea to see a doctor. There’s a 24-hour medical center a block and a half away from the hostel. It was perhaps the best doctor’s office experience I’ve had in a long time, if not ever. I walked in without an appointment and was seen by a doctor less than 15 minutes later. I explained to the doctor that I had a mixed bag of symptoms: a throat/jaw/ear pain that I first felt sometime in March, fever, and sore lower teeth and a numb lower lip that I suspected had something to do with the dive regulator. He checked me over and determined that I had a throat infection and an ear infection, and that diving with these infections made equalizing my ears more difficult and caused trauma to my ears. I actually had bleeding inside my ears. Oops. He prescribed an antibiotic which I was able to pick up on site. In less than 45 minutes I saw a doctor and got a prescription and it only cost me $79AUS. Damn good service, if you ask me.

As it usually is with antibiotics, I’m already feeling better after just two doses, but we’ve decided to stay in Cairns an extra day to help me recover a bit. The plan is to take a bus tomorrow to Mission Beach.


  1. Looks like so much fun! I love all the pics of the all the animals you saw! Hope you feel better soon!

  2. well it's good to hear your throat condtion explained. How interesting you were able to get such great health service. Does aulstralia have a nationalized system? Well I can look that up because the next time we talk I'd rather it not be about that! Get better & I hope to hear from you soon!

  3. Aja - Yes, of course Australia has a nationalized health system, just like every other industrialized country out there except the US.