July in Moraira on the Costa Blanca was particularly beautiful – the surrounding mountains encapsulating over 1000 hectares of vineyards, sloping gently from pine clad hills growing Muscatel Grapes, down to the coast uncluttered by high-rises.
Snuggled at the base of the mountain, Moraira had managed to retain its old Spanish charm, despite developing a bustling business throughout the summer months.
Getting ready for the Refresher Dive at Scuba Moraira was something I found ungainly and slightly embarrassing. Squeezing my frame into a wetsuit, whilst standing in the middle of a dive shop, (although for them it seemed the norm) and as only the three of us were there, meant that at least it was with the familiarity of family around me.
The time just gone two – in the UK would have meant a cooler walk down to the beach, but we were in Spain during the summer months and there was to be no let up from the dry sunny heat pounding down from above.
With wetsuit on; BCD enclosing my body, supporting the heavy tank, we stepped outside the shop. The first obstacle coming into view, a busy main road with cars whizzing past – in normal circumstances this offered no challenge but, in this case, it might as well have been a four lane motorway. Carefully we set out, once the road clear – making our way across to the car park, the short walk next to the cafe/bars with the curious stares of onlookers our companions, until reaching the beach steps, which took a few moments to negotiate with our cumbersome equipment, we climbed down onto the golden boiling hot sand.
Surrendering ourselves to the short walk involved negotiating towels, children and straying beach balls, not easy when trussed in dive gear. Finally we stood in the lapping shore water of Ampolla beach.
Bemused swimmers gaped as we entered until waist deep, slotting on fins.
Rolling backwards and forwards in the waves made for a funny sight, as the Dive Master fixed them firmly to my feet, as I attempted to keep my balance and not turn turtle.
The water temperature a balmy 25 degrees, I carried 8 kilos of weight to hold me down once under, over my shorty suit.
In a circle, letting out our jacket air, we descended to the sea floor, following Anna, as we explored our route. Accompanying us were Painted Combers, Striped Mullet and flounder fish amongst others, although not many – maybe due to its location close to the tourist beach.
Finally waving us to a stop – we hovered to our knees on the sandy bottom, waited for the silt to settle, focusing on our breath, the regulator bubbles the only sound.
Pointing at the graying rock, Anna made a pumping sign with her hand and through the filtered sunlight, looking directly back at us, we engaged with a tiny octopus. Keeping still in wonderment, as putting out a flat palm for it to land on, Anna attempted to entice it towards her. It staring at us with intelligent eyes and once again I was wowed by the wonder of our undersea creatures.
The presence of this one marine animal was enough to fill me with a sense of awe at our world and with silent mind I finned my way back to the beach following the others, the sound of bubbles accompanying the silence all around. Slowly, carefully, gradually ascending, until like bobbing corks on the surface, once again we were surrounded by beach goers.
We looked at them, they stared at us and for a moment I felt slightly sorry for those who only ever dip into the surface water, not taking to the depth to revel in the wonder of the watery world, before making our way back to shore.
We sat and filled in our dive logs, the excitement of the event capturing our sense of childish wonder and leaving us with the desire to spend more time in the undersea world. Alas, today it was not to be and onward we went on our journey, galloping across Spanish Plains and further north.
This photo is off Scuba Moraira’s website.