This past weekend we boarded a Sri Lankan air force flight for the east coast. Trincomalee was our destination and scuba diving certification was our purpose. The quick 45 minute flight made the 265 km much more enjoyable than the 8-11 hour bus journey would have been. Unfortunately, the cab ride to the airport is just as long as the actual flight, but hey, you win some and you lose some. In this time frame, we were transported to paradise.
Shaun had been here before for work and he told me it was beautiful and recommended we stay at the Nilaveli Beach Resort because “It’s classy and has a 50% discount for residents”. I wasn’t sure what Shaun’s definition of “classy” would entail, after all this is the same guy that treated me to a stay at the Vegas Motel in Minot, North Dakota. However, when we arrived, I was blown away. We were staying at a first class resort on arguably the nicest beach I’ve ever been to (Ko Samet in Thailand may tie this).
The best part about Trinco is that it is still far enough away from Colombo that it is not busy. The beaches are serene with picture perfect water and no one hassles you! That’s right they haven’t had enough tourists there yet to rip you off. When a three-wheel driver quotes you a price, it is the real price, so you can let your guard down.
However, it wasn’t all rest and relaxation for us. We were on a mission to become PADI open water divers and time wasn’t on our side. We only could free up a 4 day weekend due to Shaun’s work, so the typically 5 day course was condensed into 3 days for us. This meant long days including studying safety material, confined dives in shallow ocean water, open water dives to test skills, and other random feats of strength.
Our instructor, nicknamed Ninja Dave for his ability to use half the air supply as us and his all black wet suit complete with hood and sunglasses, didn’t let us take any short cuts. He was meticulous in his teaching. When the manual said every participant must be able to swim 200 m he made sure the distance was measured accurately and no, we definitely could not use goggles because that would make the swim easier. Dave knew that on the average course a participant would need assemble and disassemble his/ her diving equipment 5 times and because we had a shortened course and only did so 3 times, he had us do it twice more on the spot supervised by him in what seemed like a race. The tasks he had us executing were plentiful and he would not rest until we met the requirement to a T. We were going to become suspicious if the next task became cleaning his house, but no, Ninja Dave was nothing but professional.
We were very lucky to have him because he ensured we developed the necessary skills and now we feel much more confident in the water. He and the course have given us the safety background so that next time we dive, we can just enjoy. And what enjoyment there is in the ocean floor. It is a whole other world down there. Peaceful, except for the Darth Vador-like sound of your own breathing and weightless as you essentially hover just above the coral.
Below are some photos of our great times. We didn’t have an underwater camera so you’ll have to take our word for it when we tell you we spotted a stingray, 4 moray eels, a puffer fish, a giant seer fish, a rock fish, angel fish and various other tropical flora and fauna that we aren’t intelligent enough to name, but they looked really cool!