“You are so lucky. You have the dream job!” is something that we are often told. And when we hear it normally we try to explain that is not as dreamy as it looks like: “ok, is great to wear shorts, t-shirts and flip flops all year around, and is really cool to wake up every day with the islands as the first sight once the sun rises and bring us light and, Ok, living in Thailand is easier and more chilled out than back home, here everybody smiles,… Ok. But still, our work days are normally much longer than in a “normal” job, our weeks sometimes have no end; our salary, obviously, is not the same that we would get working at home, sitting in an office. We try to explain that is not so fantastic because often, like in all jobs, we complain about this and that. Fair enough. But often, luckyly, there are things that remind us why we are where we are and why we do what we do.
Like the other morning; kind of tired after two great and long dives, sitting with a coffee in the hand and thinking about that: still a few dives to go, still a lot of hours till I can go to sleep… Is this really a dream job?
Still with that question in my head, we do our divesite briefings and jump in the water. Once checked that all the divers are OK, start getting directions from other divers about 3 mantas that are further north. Let’s go. Let’s swim. And, soon enough, that massive shade breaks the blue. First, one, then two and, a little later, a third huge one joins the party. A party that lasts as long as the air in our tanks. They come and go, you can see their eyes looking at us, coming close, coming on top of us, playing… And then I make myself the question again, thinking about what we are often told: “You are very lucky. You have a dream job.” I look at the manta coming so close to me, while I see the happiness in my divers faces, although the three of them have more than 100 dives and are pretty experienced, this is their first manta. Although the faces are partially covered by regulators and masks, you can still see the smiles. I think again about that question and about what we are often told: Lucky. Dream job. I feel my heartbeat getting faster and faster. I have seen manta rays a lot of times, but the feeling is still similar to that first time in Nusa Penida, Bali. So, yeah, we are lucky. very lucky. From when I was working as a lawyer: suit and tide, table full of papers and problems, meetings at 9 am and at 3 pm. And now, here: wetsuit and fins, three divers that couldn’t be happier and are going to remember these moments for the rest of your lives, and the oceanic mantas dancing and flying around us for an hour. We decide to go to do our safety stops and the mantas decide to fly away…the humans are leaving, let’s go back home.
The trip can’t get better; and the job neither. I am so happy to be a dive instructor and to be working here. And after having a pod of dozens of dolphins following our trip, we are back at work and we have to take a rough decision: we are supposed to dive Tachai Pinnacle, one of the best dive sites in the area, and we had been told that today divers from another boat had seen a manta ray; but the current looks too crazy for a sunset dive. Safety first. We had all had an amazing manta dive already, so decided to take it nice and safe for the sunset dive and move to the reef; tomorrow we are going to go back to action and look again for the big stuff, but today, everybody agrees, we have been lucky enough, let’s keep some luck for the next day.
With the images of the previous dive still in our mind we start descending to the reef, adjusting weight belts and equalising our ears, and suddenly another huge shade approaches us, full of curiosity. We scream as we still don’t have anything on our hands to bang the tanks, is too soon! And too unexpected. Another manta ray. Here? Yes. And it’s not going to be the only one; a couple of them are going to be coming and going during the dive on the reef. Lucky guests. And lucky dive guides.
Lucky dive guides that also have problems and moments of depression and stress, like when the first day some of the groups spotted a manta ray (yes, another one) in West of Eden, in the Similan Islands…but my group didn’t. Big problem. Or when we jumped in Richelieu Rock knowing that that day a whale shark had visited the site… And we didn’t see it. Terrible, right? We only saw 3 kinds of barracudas, 3 or 4 kinds of trevallies, seahorses, ornate ghostpipefishes, a massive school of batfishes, heeps of yellow snappers filling half the divesite, frogfish, harlequin shrimps, morays of many kinds… Yes, we only saw that. Another aweful day in the office.
Oops, by the way…we saw the whaleshark in the next 2 dives. Can’t complain, right?