About a month or so after Mom passed, I was sitting outside our family home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with my Dad and Uncle Mark, talking about life in general. Uncle Mark isn’t technically my “uncle,” but more of a surrogate uncle. My parents raised us (me and my four siblings) with lots of surrogate aunts and uncles. To them, their close friends might as well be blood relatives. They loved their friends so much, and those friends loved us like family. Uncle Mark was a special case, though. We were exceptionally close to him. He and Mom were very similar in their loving nature, both having the biggest hearts, you’d think they’d explode! My Mom’s famous quote was “Make it a great day!” She would constantly try to infuse positivity into our lives and teach us to be happy and grateful. Uncle Mark’s favorite saying is “I love this planet!” You should have seen the two of them together, cutting up, laughing, having fun- and infecting anyone around them with their happiness and love. When you loose someone who is core to your soul, it gives you a little bit of relief to be around those people who resonate that person’s spirit so strongly.
So, as we were sitting outside on a beautiful January day (yes, it can be like spring in BR in January), talking lovingly about Mom and her amazingness (and missing her unbearably), Uncle Mark mentioned his next big dive trip to Wakatobi in Indonesia.
Aside background note: Uncle Mark owns a dive shop in Baton Rouge called Underwater Adventures. He also does technical diving and leads trips to amazing dive locations all over the world. The funny and interesting thing to me is that my father took Uncle Mark diving for the first time a long, long time ago. He loved it so much that he decided to make a career out of it. Thank goodness! Otherwise I’d probably never go diving!
You see, my father had an accident while diving many years back and suffered an embolism, which he could have died from (he had to visit the hyperbaric chamber, and this was his second time!), and the experts at Duke biomedical center suggested that he could never dive again. Bummer. This meant my diving adventures went from fairly often to once every few years (if I was proactive). He was lucky to survive the accident, though!
So, Uncle Mark was hyping up this amazing dive trip to Indonesia that was nine months away, trying to convince me and Dad to go along with him. Let me clarify, I didn’t need any convincing AT ALL, but Dad wasn’t too keen on the idea, since he can’t dive anymore. “What am I going to do all day while y’all are diving?” That’s a fair question.
I knew, though, that dive trips with Uncle Mark are always the best. We’ve gone with him countless times to Cozumel, Mexico (before it was somewhat ruined by the cruise-tourist industry) and the Bahamas. Our family went with his Underwater Adventures group on an Australian dive trip in 2001: one week on a Mike Ball liveaboard and one week exploring Australia overland. It was the first time I had experienced world-class diving. I remember thinking it looked like someone had spilled watercolor paint all over the ocean floor. It was my first shark dive as well, which was really exciting.
Fast forward many months, and I found myself fortunate enough to be included on Uncle Mark’s Underwater Adventures Indonesia trip.
This post was not meant to be extremeIy informative travel-wise, and I apologize for that. I just wanted to set the tone by giving a little bit of background on Uncle Mark and Underwater Adventures dive trips, my experience and history with diving, and why this trip was so significant to me (also, see yesterday’s post).
Over the next couple of weeks, I will delve into the diving in Southeast Sulawesi, The amazing Wakatobi Dive Resort, and our adventures exploring Bali and Singapore.
Thanks for stopping by!