Saturday, May 16, 2009

Four dives, one parrot, and a life changing toilet.

Covering april 5th to april 12th

Northland offers a couple of awesome dive-sites. One of them is the Rainbow Warrior, the greenpeace flagship that was bombed by the french government. This is probably the best dive I've done so far in my life. Visibility was 20-25m, the wreck was at a depth of 25 meters, and the wreck itself is out of this world.

Poking my head through the bomb hole I was greeted with the most beautiful sight I've ever seen on a dive as the engine room was lit by a hole in the deck, and in the shadows, thousands and thousands of fish were swimming about.

We followed up with a reef dive. On descend, we were right on top of two big eagle rays, one of which were pregnant. If I'd hit the bottom I would have been standing on them. Beautiful! There were heaps of surge, which caused me to use more air than usual, but it made for a fun dive. Again, the place was teeming with life, and we were constantly being followed by big curious fish. They'd even let us pet them if we were quick enough. We caught a crayfish which they cooked for me afterwards.

I took the crayfish back home to the hostel where I shared it with Kelly who I'd met two nights previous. It tasted good, but I had a hard time getting over the whole snapping off of limbs and sucking out the meat thing. I guess I'm still a city slicker. Besides, it was staring at me.
I filled out my log-book with Kelly besides me and taught her all there is to know about diving in the process. Honest!

The next day I spent chilling in Paihia with Kelly. We had a good breakfast and I checked in at the Pickled Parrot where she was staying.

Meet Rocky!
Meet Kelly! Rocky goes for the throat.
Cautiously getting to know each other.
The first scare turned into an uneasy truce, and eventually, mutual respect. I quicly learned not to wear shirts, necklaces, or anything else he could bite.

I spent another two days chilling and booked my diving at the Poor Knight's Island for friday, spending thursday night in Tutukaka.

The Poor Knight's, according to Jaques Cousteau who has a thing or two to say on the matter, is one of the top ten dive sites in the world. My day here wasn't the best conditions, but we had two good dives none-the-less.

My first buddy only had 11 dives and it'd been 1½ years since his last so he went through his air twice as fast as I did. We'd agreed on a max depth of 25m, but he didn't look at his depth-gauge so I had to fish him up from 27m. There wasn't any danger, but I didn't care to spend my second dive looking after him (that's not what I pay for) and I'd like to spend all my air in the water so I hitched onto another pair.

The second dive was far more interesting, with a small cave-chamber, an arch, rays, and depths to make you dizzy. We didn't exceed 28m, but even at that depth I could see rays on the bottom 15-20 meters below me. That's when you need to keep a close eye on the depth gauge!
One of my buddies on this dive, a girl called Gayle, was just as inexperienced as my former buddy, but far more secure and skilled. All three of us emerged with 50bars on the tank. Perfect!

Inside the cave:

One of the other divers was driving back to Auckland and gave me a ride. All the way we were talking about diving and, in particular, irresponsible instructors. We had a very enlightening chat about the differences between PADI and CMAS certifications. She was very knowledgeable and had very healthy attitudes towards diving and teaching. If you ever feel like taking a PADI certificate in NZ, she'd be the one to look up!
She is: Bianca Stevens at

That night was the first time I called my parents since I left home. It was good to hear their voices again. I hadn't even realized three months had gone by!

The first night in Auckland I stayed in a backpackers, and saturday I had to kill some time until Bojana got off work. Normally, I like to have my breakfeast before turning hookers down, but this morning I had to brush them off as soon as I got out on the street. Did I really look that desperate?

Sunday I spent at Bojana's place. A funny thing happened when I was on the toilet. For years I've been wondering what I wanted to do with my life, but there, on the can in Auckland, everything became clear. Perhaps it was the high ceiling, that loo had room for ambition!

I've long been fascinated with science, but physics and biology have always stood out. There's something about studying life, and there's something about studying the structure of our cosmos. At the same time I've been afraid of starting to study either. Mostly, I couldn't decide if I'd rather play music for a living, if physics would be too hard (and abstract. Visualization is important for my enjoyment of physics, and enjoyment is the deciding factor in wether I'll be any good in my field), and if biology would be too boring (I couldn't see myself staying awake through lecture after lecture on memorizing bones and muscle names).

All morning I'd been surfing Wikipedia. It went something like this: The Sun => Planet => Natural satellite => Europa (moon) => Possibility of life on Europa => Life => Entropy => Entropy of life
All are very interesting articles and definitely worth a read, even if you don't catch it all (entropy, I thought, was a mind-boggling subject and I never got more than a fuzzy idea about it - even with the less technical articles available (look near the top)).
I'm intrigued of how nobody can really agree on how to define life. 'It has DNA' one person says. 'Then how about viruses' says another 'That's just a molecule, yet it adapts to its environment'. 'Life has negative entropy' says a third. 'Yes, but isn't that a bit too abstract?' came the answer.

The universe is a unity. Physics and biology are not two separate phenomena, just terms we concocted to split the universe into smaller, easier-to-understand chunks. Life is not a "mystical force", but an entirely natural consecuence of the physical laws. I want to study, in particular, that specific "event horizon" where "dead matter" turns to "life". I want to study... dundunDUN! Biophysics!

Now that I have something like this to look forward to, I'm no longer afraid of coming home. This adventure doesn't stop when I leave Australia. It's my life!

'But what about music?'
Good question my young padawan. I'll continue to make music, but I'll emphasize having fun with it. Just like with my studies. If that means that nobody but me cares for it, then so be it!

So, next time you feel a rumble in your tummy, be sure you seat yourself comfortably. It might change your life!

Editor's note: Many years later, when Jophiel had been awarded a combined nobel prize for physics and biology (they threw in chemistry and peace as well for good measure), Bojana started renting out the lavatorial facilities of her Auckland home. Before long, when rumors of the miracle powers of the "Auck-loo" were circled on the internet, Bojana became the world's most wealthy woman.


Lucas Alexander said...

Loving it!
Du blir den sejeste biofysiker nogensinde!

Glæder mig så meget til at se dig, og leve mit eventyr ud side om side med dig!

Elsker dig!

Lucas Alexander

Bozo said...

Congrats on the revelation, reminds me of a certain someone who also found something similiar in a dark hole in an unexpected part of the world ;)

Torben Nyman Nielsen said...

Hey man - got to go to the loo.
Also a congratulation from me with the revelation - it is so nice to be clear about what you want.
Very nice blog. I am (still) amazed about the quality of your underwater photos - both in this blog and the last one.
I am very happy that you are no longer afraid of coming home - I am looking forward to see you.