the nothing whatever...

Farewell to the Reubley's

Tuesday was the last full day we had with Reuben and Hayley. Reuben caught a Jacketfish out at Shipwrecks and paid a local Warung to put on a feast for us which was our second lunch for the day. That evening, we went out to Sandy Beach, all had a cocktail, and then went and explored the volcanic rock structures around the point. As the waves would go into the caves the air would condense, powerfully blasting out a swirl of water vapor as the surge subsided. We had fun with it, and got some great footage. Hayley also took an awesome video of the ride home through the villages and the jungles at dusk that I will also have to chase down. We ended up going to bed pretty early, as we had Captain Blank taking us spearfishing and snorkeling at 7am the next day.

I am by no means someone who sees food as the opportunity to declare a moral standpoint, and there will be plenty of people that will label me as a wimp after saying this, but I found there was a certain ethical ambiguity I was flirting with by spearfishing in a tropical paradise. I could pay $2.50 AU to have a piece of perfectly steamed fish in coconut sauce delivered to me on a banana leaf, or five times that to go out and catch my own fish, and then have to pay more for the cooking process. I found myself asking the question, if food is not the reason we are doing this, then why exactly are we doing it? Are we just subscribing to our primal and by all means redundant natural instinct to kill in environments we deem as plentiful? Were we actually only hunting the social benefits of being seen as the hunter, even though in this day and age the “hunter” of sorts is the consumerist drive of humanity as a whole, and is not really something that can be attained on an individual level anymore? I explained these thoughts to Reuben, and in as many words, he told me that I was over-thinking it. He is probably right.

There was hardly a cloud in the sky the next morning, and water clarity was ridiculously good. A perfect day for killing things. Captain Blank took us to Cenigan Point, and I had my first experience with a speargun. I spent most of the time floundering around in the currents, trying to stay in the one spot while remaining untangled from my float, which was constantly wrapping itself around my snorkel. Although I saw a lot, I never really got close enough to any fish to fire it, but, almost just out of curiosity, I fired it anyway. The fish watched it fly past and looked at me like “really, that’s it?”. And that was it, because I didn’t know how to reload.

I ended up with no fish and a clear conscience, I found it to be fun just diving through the underwater canyons and caves. Reuben speared a long thin barracuda looking thing that came after him with snapping jaws and tangled him up in his own line. And Captain Blank, well, Captain Blank just about speared the entire ocean, sitting on the bottom for 40 seconds at a time and waiting for the fish to come to him. The man knew how to spearfish.

We were meant to return at 9am to the beach in front of the resort and collect the girls for snorkeling, but we were about 45 minutes late. We then made the trip out to “see many Manta”, something that we had been asked if we wanted to do by just about every Balinese boat owner on the entire island. I half expected us to rock up to Manta Point and see glimpses of one lone Manta-Ray perusing the shallow areas around the rocks before disappearing into the depths where us pesky tourists did not have the lung capacity to venture. But it was not that at all.

There was the tourist presence I expected, but there were gargantuan black shadows everywhere as not to congest the area. Keen as mustard, I jumped out of the boat to swim with them before it had even stopped. I can now understand why it is such a huge selling point among Indonesian boat men, they are amazing creatures. Their gaping mouths and enormous wingspan make them incredibly intimidating to be in the water with, but they are so docile and graceful that it allows the experience to be enjoyable, rather than terrifying. For some of us.

Nic had already illustrated her concerns with getting the water with something that big, and as she jumped in the water with me, I was proud of her for recognizing that it was an experience that needed to be had. I pointed out the first Ray that I saw about ten metres away and closing, and she seemed like she was handling its approach really well. The Ray sensed our presence a metre or so away, pivoted and displayed its underside, and then continued on slowly collecting plankton in its gaping orifice. Elegant, beautiful and harmless. But, it wasn’t the one that we saw that had Nic going. I felt her hand tense. Just beneath us, a huge black shadow came from behind, flapping around our kicking feet and leaving us bobbing in the current created by its wake. I popped up laughing, knowing full well what that might have been like to somebody who was already feeling less than comfortable, and as anticipated, Nic spat out her snorkel and said “I wanna go back to the boat”. I swam her back there while she pushed me to the front like human shield, and even though it terrified her, I think regretting the missed opportunity would have been worse. And later, when we spoke about it, she told me was really glad she did not miss out on it too.

We went to Crystal Bay after Manta Point and did a bit more snorkeling in the clearest water I have seen in a long time. Captain Blank then dropped us back at the resort, and the Reubley’s went back to Tigerlily’s to pack their gear. We met them there and had our final meal together (a delicious Sang Choy Bow) and then followed them to the wharf on our scooter and said our final goodbyes, bewildered by how quickly the last week had flown, and kind of sad that the last resemblance of home was now already leaving us. We will miss you guys.