Monday, July 24, 2017

Scuba Diving WW2 Shipwrecks Off Guadalcanal

In the night I could hear an ominous scratching sound on the roof of my little shack by the ocean. Maybe that Vanuatu fruit bat I ate had friends.

When morning came and I awoke uneaten by angry, fruitly fragrant bats the plan was to get to the local dive shop and do my first oceanic scuba dive. How exciting.

It was rush hour and there were plenty of cars so I figured it wouldn't be a problem to get a cab ride. Well, it was a problem. I couldn't get a cab no matter what I tried. It felt like I was hitchhiking. I walked along the road, waving at every car that remotely looked like a cab. It's funny in most developing nations cabs swarm around me like gnats but here no one was interested.

After walking along the road for a time I finally just accosted one filling up at a gas station. I believe I was born to say "driver take me to the yacht club and if you make it snappy there's $100 in it for you!" $100 Solomon Islands Dollars is like $13 US.

I really really like the signs around here written in pidgin. I wouldn't have thought a language like that would have a written form.

Tulagi Dive seemed legit enough to trust my life to. I guess? Luckily they didn't ask to see my dive certification because I definitely did not think to bring it with me on this trip. I hadn't even considered going diving until I landed in the country.

Solomon Islands is the site of a lot of WW2 fighting on Guadalcanal. I chose the dives of a couple of sunken Japanese ships known as Bonegi I & II.

The drive there went through some countryside that I enjoyed gazing at.

The water was warm enough that they didn't provide me with a wetsuit. So the harness with the airtanks and the rest of the equipment just went straight on my back.

I started with over an hour of underwater footage and editing it down was painful. Give it a look and let me know what you think of my first dive video.

There was a bit of a drive in between the two dive locations.

One of the wrecks was so close to the beach that some of it still stuck out above the water.

My mouth hurt for days after this. You have to really make a seal with your lips or, you know, you'll die.

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) recently left the Solomon Islands. The country was having some domestic strife and so Australia and New Zealand sent peacekeepers.

Had some food at a local Indian place.

I thought I'd stumbled onto a mysterious new Fanta flavor but it was just cream soda.

Afterwards I headed to the Heritage Park Hotel for a second time to eat some much needed internet.

The menus they brought out after sunset were backlit.

There was a store at the hotel that sold flamboyant flower print shirts so I picked one up. If you recall "nice bola" means handsome.

I got a cab back to the hostel. "What? You're from the US?" Cue country music.

I've spent so much time under this net that I feel like a bubble boy.

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