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Trying Scuba

Off Kihei, Maui
March 19, 2008

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Who gets to live on Maui and run scuba trips daily out to Molokini Atoll?

One of our guides was a former political consultant in Alaska, who still offers wisdom to his colleagues in the icy north via speakerphone between dives. Another was a wandering Chilean, who has been essentially trapped on Maui since 9-11, because his visa makes it difficult for him to come and go.

We got to sample their life a bit on Wednesday and try scuba diving. Learning to trust the air supply took a few minutes, but once I pushed through, we had a great swim down there, 40 feet below the surface, where it's quiet and calm.

I had just calmed down and was learning to breathe slowly to conserve my air supply when I turned and saw coming towards me a giant sea turtle, as big as me. The bubbles went crazy at that point. He was gorgeous in a primeval way, and I had to move aside to let him soar forward along his chosen path.

A few minutes later, Steve spotted an enormous manta ray gliding along a reef, and it made a large circle around us.

Too soon, our air supply ran low and we had to pull ourselves back up to the surface. Pictures of all this would have been nice, but I felt I had my hands full managing the mission-critical air equipment, and so left my camera on the boat.