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Monday 10 Jun 2013
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

I'm hooked

Nadja took me and Guelay out for our Peak Perforance Buoyancy dive. It was good to try different exercises to really think about what I was doing. One of the hardest - and funniest - was trying to hover while Nadja added or removed additional weights to my outstretched hands. I could cope with one extra, but with two I sank like a stone, or overbalanced sideways and bumped into Guelay while she did the same. It was carnage, but really funny at the same time.
I decided to take advantage of Daniel's photography experience and get my PADI Photography Speciality as well. We had an evening walk along the beach taking photographs and looking at composition. The next couple of dives I did with the camera were much more successful than that first one. I actually ended up with some good photos and spent a day on Daniel's computer enhancing them with Photoshop - Mental note: I must get a copy of Photoshop when I next own a computer! The Indonesian tourism office is running a year long competition for underwater photography with a top prize of US $200,000, so Daniel helped me enter 5 of my best photographs. The draw isn't until December and who knows? Maybe I'll get a lucky Christmas fund!

Nadja had to go over to the Immigration office in Lombok to complete her work visa so Guelay, Marco and I went with her for the day. We caught the public boat over, but this waits until the boat is full before departing, so we were half and hour late getting to Lombok and then had to wait another 20 minutes for our driver to come back and collect us. We dropped Nadja at the immigration office and went on to a nearby shopping mall for a much-anticipated McDonalds fix. There are only so many days of Nasi Campur you can have without craving a burger and fries! Amazingly, Nadja was done in only 15 minutes and came up to meet us while we were still in McDonalds. We then did a sunpermarket run and stocked up on chocolate and other goodies that are unavailable on Gili T.
Our driver took us back up the coast road which was a beautiful winding drive. On one side the views across the sea took in Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan, while inland we could see the magnificent volcano and endless coconut plantations. There was a buddhist temple set high up on the cliff edge, but unfortunately it decided to rain just as we arrived so the steps up became quite treacherous. They had some great statues up on the cliff edge - squat fat men and animal scluptures with typical Indonesian humour.
Further up the coast we found a secluded beach and went for a walk. There was a gang of scruffy but beautiful children collecting litter who came over to ask for my coke can. Guelay asked if she could take their photo and showed them the picture, which they loved. After that we spent 20 minutes with them posing for pictures, then hurtling around to see the picure on the back of the camera. I joined in with my iphone, flipping the camera around so they could see themselves on the screen and holding it on the ground so they all peered over with their heads together. These have quickly become some of my favourite photographs of my whole trip. We finally caught the boat back over to Gili T in the early evening and arrived back at Lutwala happy but exhausted.

Life at Lutwala is like living with an extended family. Everyone made me and the other guests feel so welcome. Here's a quick belated rundown on who's who...

Fern - South African owner of Lutwala, shark fan and expert technical diver (at one point held the world record for a female deep diver at over 100m).
Chris - Fern's Dad, technical and maintenance and mastermind behind the new bungalows being built behind Lutwala.
Trish - Fern's Mum, great cook and big personality. Lovely lady who likes to take the mickey out of my lobster impressions!
Roland - South African instructor
Josh - British instructor
Daniel - Spanish instructor
Nadja - German instructor
Rupi - Indian DMT
Francisco - Italian DMT who arrived two days before I left
Suzanne - American lady who owns Eden Cottages, just behind Lutwala
Michael - American architect recently moved to Gili T who is working on the bungalos and Lutwala renovations while staying at Eden
Kit - Michael's Vietnamese partner
Guelay - Turkish, but grew up in Germany, a friend of Nadja's friend at home who had come to the Gili's to learn to dive as the last stage of 9 month's travels
Marco - German school friend of Nadja's here on holiday

Each evening somebody took a turn at cooking for the rest of the gang. Initially I bought my dinner from the shop up the road and came back to eat with the others, but after a few days I offered to cook a bolognese for everyone. After that I was included in most meals. I couldn't always join in fully because of my diet but it was lovely to share a meal around the table. One evening Guelay cooked an amazing Turkish feast for everyone, even doing a special chicken with aubergines, chili, onion and spices for me as I couldn't have the Pida that the rest were eating (stuffed breadsticks). Rupi cooked an Indian meal another night which was equally delicious, though Chris was quite bemused by the pureed sweet carrot dessert. If I am to come back here for my DMT next year, I am going to have to expand my repertoire and include some more interesting dishes for the vegetarians. I'll also bring out a case full of GF pasta, bread mix and cereal!

I spent my last few days at Lutwala doing fun dives with my new friends.  Some dives I borrowed cameras to keep practicing the techniques Daniel had taught me.  On others, I just dived for fun.  On one dive with Sam, Suzanna, Roland, Guelay and Francisco we ended up taking silly underwater photos, dancing to imagnary Bollywood music at our safety stop and generlly clowning around.  It was brilliant.

I can't thank everyone here enough for making me so welcome and teaching me about this amazing new underwater world.

I think there's a very real danger of me coming back for my DMT after all... Watch this space.

 

 

 

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