A dive to never forget

Erik Malaysia, Travel

“No, don’t touch that bag. I’ll get it myself.” I feel like Gollem, from Lord of the Rings. No one can see that ring. It’s mine. My precious. I’ve been guarding it for a few weeks now. With succes, because she didn’t notice anything. At least, that’s what I hope. The entire trip I’ve been looking for THE moment… but that moment doesn’t seem to come. That beach wasn’t it, that restaurant too boring and trite. No, it has to be somewhere original. Some place we will never forget. Perhaps I will succeed today.

We make our way to the Scuba Junkie dive shop in Kota Kinabalu (affectionately called KK). Today we got another day of diving on our itinerary. With the experience of Sipadan just two weeks behind us I hope it won’t be a disappointment. That truly was some magnificent diving, but according to James, our dive master for the day, diving in KK will be just as good.

With a splash we dive into the water and make our way down towards the reef. It´s beautiful, but my thoughts wander. The beach where we will have our lunch, would that be something? Back at the boat it’s clear I wasn’t there with my thoughts since I seem to have missed a lot of beautiful things the others did see. But, I’ve managed to come up with a location for “my big question”. Why settle for a beach, when I’ve got the best option just for the taking.

On our way to the second dive spot I try to talk to James without Laura noticing. Which appears to be a challenge on a boat just 5 meters long. I can’t seem to get to talk to him alone, but I will need his thoughts if I want my plan to succeed.

When we get into the water for our second dive I loiter and try to enter the water together with James. Finally I succeed! Laura enters the water on one side of the boat and I join James at the other side. Quickly I explain him my plans. He’s obviously stunned by the situation, but very enthusiastic. It’s a first for him as well. Because  Laura is coming our way I quickly put my head in the water not to draw to much attention.

I experience more of this dive than the previous one. The reef is beautiful, but one thing keeps running through my mind. How? How am I going to explain what I want to ask under water? Obviously without pushing the ring in her face at point blanc. There’s a signal for “OK”, or for “going up”. Even “look, there’s a hammerhead” I can explain, but this they have forgotten in the manual.

Of course the solution is simple than I had thought. During lunch James gives me a slate. For the laymen: a slate is a white plastic board to write on when diving. I scribble a text on the slate which James will put with my diving gear.

With the ring on my little finger I dive into the water. The ring shimmers beautifully! It’s stunning, but I don’t want her to see it yet. Usually my hands are all over the place, but this dive I keep them close. As I should, but also the way to keep the ring hidden.

My mind is more on hiding the ring than it is on experiencing the beauty around us when James gives me the signal. We’ve arrived over a beautiful coral reef. Sunrays are bursting through the surface. Fish, large and small with the most beautiful colors are swimming everywhere around us and the ground is covered with brightly colored corals and anemones. I pull one of Laura’s fins and get the slate from my pocket. She’s looking confused when I hand it to her and reads what it says: “If this wasn’t our most memorable dive yet then it is now. Will you marry me?” She looks at me and her goggles fill with water from smiling. After having cleared her goggles several times she takes the pen and starts writing. It seems an eternity. Is she writing an excuse? Perhaps it wasn’t as long as it seemed, because as she hands me back the slate it only says one word: YES!

Image: photographer unknown.