Malapascua, P.I., October. I jump off the boat onto the white sands. Its been two years but it looks the same. I'm thankful its been spared damage by the typhoon that has left the surrounding waters cloudy and spread death and disruption through the city I flew into.
I should be relaxed but I'm not. Will it be good, as good as before? Will it be worth it? and then the wider questions, the ones about what I'm leaving behind to come on this jaunt and then to move onward. The house, career, opportunity, her. A voice wakes me, asks about the two-thirty dive. A heart beat's worth of thought: "I'm in."
On the boat I make myself a coffee, pour luke warm water from a thermos over nescafe, and settle into the familiar routine of assembling my gear and my camera. I relax a little and think about the Shoal, what I can remember and what to look for. We've arrived.
We drop in and instantly the light changes. My eyes grow used to the green hued light as we descend and I feel the pressure build a comforting weight on my chest like a loved one's head in a tight embrace.
On bottom; a shimmer of nervous water to the left and a ghostly white instantly builds in the gloom. Manta birostis emerges from the green darkness and hovers next to us. A huge eye looks over me as I look over its owner. and I feel free again.