Back to the mountains

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Well, everyone is fine- no one got the bends or nitrogen narcosis or even stung by a jellyfish. There wasn't really any opportunity to get hurt, and you really didn't need to even be in good shape to participate. I shoulda known that the dive would be a joke, but it just didn't occur to me.
Can you believe that I spent three days in Okinawa and NEVER got to go to the beach. I saw it from a distance a couple of times, emerald green waters with coral breaking the calm surface. The weather was perfect, with beautiful clouds and a gentle breeze. Nah, instead I spent my time shopping for omiyage, drinking, and eating Japanese food.
Don't get me wrong, I am very greatful that I got to hang out with the firemen of Ubuyama, but it wasn't what I expected.
So diving was like this: We had 3 hours dedicated on the schedule. The first hour was a crash super-simplified course in the dangers of touching stonefish, sea snakes, sea urchins, jellyfish, and other marine animals. Next was an easy explanation of the regulator and the mask (talk about tanks, BCs, wetsuits, depth and pressure meter, and other equipment was completely omitted). All of this took about an hour. Next we went to the dive spot. We were seperated into 3 groups of 4, and my group went last.
I knew the spot that we hit up (Manza Beach) was a great place because I had a long talk with a local Marine and an Okinawan girl who had just come back from a dive. We talked at length (as the others were getting basic training, which took up about 45 minutes) about diving, marine invertibrates, and Okinawan culture. This turned out to be the highlight of the dive, as I got educated about feeding habits of predatory sea snails, good and bad dive spots, Yoneguni, and spearfishing on the islands (the local fishermen hate it when they see you doing it) and other cool places (such as hunting for stripers in the Colorado River)..
So I finally got in the water with my group, and it took everyone about 10 minutes to put on fins and masks. They practiced breathing under water with the respirator, clearing the mask of water, and clearing the respirator of water, and swimming which took another 30 minutes. Then we got to follow behind the instructor for another 10. We only swam at most 30 meters in no more than 20 feet of water at the very deepest.
During this whole time I was itching to go explore and find a real sea snake but had to stay with the group. Still, I was astounded by the level of biodiversity in the small pocket of water which we were confined to. I saw more species of fish, snails, and coral in ten minutes of exploration than I have in snorkeling around Oita, Amakusa, Ashikita, Saga, Kagoshima, Awaji-shima, and other various spots around Honshu cumulatively.
So now that I have a taste of Okinawa, I need to go back to actually experience it the real way. Next time I will pig out on American food, get a bitchin' tan while relaxing on the beach, and go diving for real! I will not go to snack bars or spend more than 30 minutes shopping for omiyage.

1 Comments

Great commentary, Adam! Sounds like more than a beginner's place to dive; did you eat any authentic Okinawa dango like at obon festivals back home? Fried donuts are great (bad!) food!

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This page contains a single entry by Adam published on November 5, 2003 1:33 PM.

In The Land Of Mr. Miyagi (That's Miyagee to you whitey!) was the previous entry in this blog.

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