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Published: October 29th 2014
Liveaboard diving....nothing beats it. But for it to work, you need the right ingredients. Good People, Good Divers, Good Boat and Good Dive sites. Leaving Villa Marasai heading out to our boat - the Tambora - I knew I had met 5 good people so far - even if Linda did remind me for the 23,046th time she hates smoking as I got Uwe the boats owner to ask the driver to stop so I could stop at a warung and stock up on cigarettes for the trip, and I knew there were another 7 people arriving via Manado who sounded like Good people too. Simon and Tim have been organising these trips for years and knew all the other divers, something that had given me reservations at the beginning of the trip. Id be the lone outsider.
When Linda had arrived at Ternate shortly after we did, my first impression was - Wow, this old bird is tough as farm boots.
Linda has 20 years on me, has dived and traveled the planet with her super camera and custom 'shooters' jacket to fit all her camera-y bits in. She had made the trek from Missouri to join the
dive trip on her lonesome, a frequent photography and dive trip attendee. I'm the sort of traveler who lobs somewhere, has a shower, crawls into bed after ordering room service and sleeps for a few hours. Not Linda, she of boundless energy. She dived, she kayaked, she trekked, she went to polar regions and hung with bears. I just float around looking mildly stupid.
Linda is organised, she travels with scales to weigh her luggage so knows ahead of time to plan for excess baggage fees. She had a veritable medicine chest - of which I took full advantage of (thank you Linda) and I'm a disorganized hippy born about 15 years too late. I throw a few migraine tablets in my dive bag and have a passport that looks like elephants stole and dipped in a rainbow. Uwe looked at my passport when I handed it to him so he could give it to the Indonesian customs authorities and mumbled something polite about it looking like it had been wet.
I hadn't known him long enough to tell him it got wet on top of a floating brothel in Sabang in the Philippines.
Linda is a
Straight shooter too, the first thing she said when she sat down at Villa Marasai was.."Ok, whos my cabin buddy, I like to sleep in an Igloo?"
Simon pointed at me. Silence. Im built like a twig. I have mentioned before in blogs about my bizarre sleeping habit of having to be completely covered up including pillow for top of head. I like the recently embalmed look while sleeping. A short pause. I can always throw a jumper on I offered in the spirit of meeting in the middle.
The second thing she said was how much she hated smokers and her pride at never having smoked a single one and a complaint (rightfully so) about smokers sitting next to a non smoking breakfast area at her hotel in Manado.
I smoke. A lot at times. Especially when I feel nervous about people.
Hmm, this was going to be interesting..a couple of weeks sharing a cabin on the Tambora.
During our tour around Ternate and Tidore I had talked to Linda a lot and found I really liked and admired her. Of course I kept my distance when smoking.
Perhaps we could make this
work?. I was at the tail end of a flu when Tim passed on a flu straight from Guam. I love the spread of virii. More about that later. So I was smoking and coughing a lot about to go on a dive trip, waiting anxiously onboard the beautiful Tambora for our other divers to arrive.
When they arrived I breathed a sigh of relief as they all boarded and seemed like excellent people too.
Everyone put their gear in their cabins and we were wowed with the Tambora hospitality. I actually put on a bit of weight on the trip, they feed you well, and often.
I was especially happy to meet Marna, because she smoked too.
As is the usual in Indonesia most of the crew smoked so the rear smoking deck became a great place to get to know Marna.
After a small mix up regarding indentical shoes of different sizes going missing from Villa Marasai resulting in everyone checking their luggage for the stolen shoe which had to be driven to the dock and returned to their rightful owner we listened to Uwe's boat breifing. Brief is not the word for
Uwe's breifing, its thorough, nuclear sub type thorough.
Small talk, old friendships being renewed and new ones beginning around the dinner table as we pulled anchor and headed for Halmahera.
Time for bed, I opened the cabin door and found Linda did indeed mean Igloo when she said it. Why not? she had been off photographing polar bears in Churchill before this trip. I coughed and sneezed and put on a jumper and crawled into bed. Linda sat up and said she was sweating and removed the thin blanket from inside the comforter. Essentially she was now sleeping with just a sheet on. The odd couple.
There were so many differences between us that it was surprising to fast forward to the end of the trip with a hug and in Linda's words..."It worked".
Sometimes its experiences like meeting the Linda to your you that make travel all that more rewarding - you work out how to make things work. That's the growth that travel gives you, that learning curve of realising this person is here for the same reasons you are, because they seek, they yearn for freedom and to discover and to live
people are rare to find, embrace them, theres far too many bland humans walking this planet. I was lucky enough to find a whole boat full of them.
When I grow up I think I want to be Linda.
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