Walking down the wooden jetty into Semporna’s harbor, I couldn’t help thinking what a difference 180º can make. Behind us lay Semporna, a shantytown so grim and gritty, it can only be likened to an angry red inflammation on the otherwise flawless cheek that is the northern Borneo coastline. But with our faces turned to the Celebes Sea—stretched out on the horizon and that perfect shimmering shade of blue that is too rarely found in nature—it was hard to reconcile what we had just walked through with the beckoning paradise before us. Living in Semporna may not have many perks, but I’d wager that with its views, you’d be willing to put up with quite a lot.
Prior to becoming a diver, there were few things in life I loved more than visiting an aquarium. I’ve written extensively on this site about my love of the water in general, as well as my love for aquariums in particular, but part of me wondered whether—having finally experienced the wonder of the aquatic world without reinforced panes of glass between it and me—my love affair with aquariums might wane.
At the risk of potentially causing you, our beloved readers, to OD on stories and pictures of our underwater escapades while in the Philippines, I’m… going to share yet another aquatic adventure. It seems only right, since when you’re on an island, there is only so much time you can spend whizzing around on a motorbike or lazing in a hammock before the call of the ocean becomes too much to resist. Trust me, our time on Camiguin was pretty much a scientific study of exactly this.
Not much could top learning to dive as a trip highlight for Tony and me, but if you can believe it, the beautiful island where we first learned to breathe underwater had other delights in store for us of the aquatic variety, namely: turtles and lots of ’em!
I’ve done a lot of things on our trip that a few years ago I never imagined I would do. The Tony of five years ago never dared to dream that he would travel through Japan, or ride a motorcycle through the wilds of the Philippines, or walk the Great Wall of China. In the last eight months I’ve given myself the chance to do things that once seemed impossible, or at least impossibly grand, but one thing in particular has had an unexpectedly profound effect on my life: scuba.
All my life I have been a water baby, spending my summers up in northern Ontario, doing my level best to transform from girl into dolphin, or at the very least, a mermaid. Some girls spend their childhood in gymnastics or ballet lessons, but those hours I spent each day swimming about in the lake that abutted my aunt’s property, those were my dance lessons as I learned to move my body with agility and grace while in the water.