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November, 2001

1. Fish
Jamie preparing to dive.
2. Jamie preparing to dive
Sea dragon.
3. Sea dragon
Reef & diver.
4. Reef & diver

Neither of us had any particular interest in diving when we arrived in the Philippines. But, as it turns out, the Philippines has some of the best dive sites in the world. Many of the foreigners we meet are here for the diving. And our next-door neighbors are Kurt and Andrea, both from Germany. Kurt is the owner of Atlantis Dive Center and Andrea is the lead instructor. So I suppose it was inevitable that we should try diving. Jim helped Andrea translate the Atlantis web site into English, and we were treated to an Introductory Dive in exchange (actually we each made two dives).

Jim made his first dive on the Alona Beach house reef. It is just a short swim out to the reef, which falls off in a steep wall to about 25 meters depth. For his first dive, Jim and Kurt swam along the house reef wall at a depth of about 10-12 meters. Although Jim had done some diving over 30 years ago, this beautiful coral reef was something very new for him. The corals are in very good health with vibrant colors, a great variety of fish of all sizes, and clear water. They saw a barracuda.

Jamie's first dive was with Andrea on the reef at Balicasag Island. Our trip to the island took about 40 minutes on a fast banca. Jamie has never been diving before, so everything was new and exciting for her. Although she was nervous and anxious at first, she didn't let that stop her, and the dive went perfectly. She was surprised that everything she saw underwater seemed so much more impressive than the photos and videos she had seen. She felt a constant need to say "wow" over and over. After Jamie's morning dive, we had lunch, snorkeled, and waited the prescribed time before making a second dive that afternoon.

For the afternoon dive, we shifted location to an area called the "Black Forest." It is named for the black coral which grows along a steep wall going down about 50 meters. Unfortunately, the black coral grows at depths well below our 12 meter limit, so we didn't see it. We made our second dives together, with Andrea as our guardian angel. As neither of us was proficient with our buoyancy compensator controls, Andrea was pretty busy trying to keep us both at neutral buoyancy. We drifted slowly past the coral wall, carried along by a gentle current. Again, the underwater world was beautiful, colorful, and full of life. We saw clown fish among the anemones, sea stars, gorgonian fans, and more fish than we could count. Jamie spotted a ray, which Andrea identified as an eagle ray, and we saw another barracuda.

We had such a great time on our dives that we have taken the Open Water Diver certification course. This will allow us to rent SCUBA equipment anywhere we go in the world. The class was 4 ½ days long, including classroom, videos, and 4 more dives.

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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
Website designed and created by Lois Richter, expanded by Jim.
Created 11/2001. Jamie's photo is © 2001 Jim Richter.