D is for Died and Went to Heaven
January 2007, Anilao, Philippines
The New Year’s day of 2006 will remain etched in my mind for as long as I live. A day I actually did die and discover heaven; a heaven that lay beyond my imagination. We were then a family of three. The 18-year-old was about 8; as old as my 8-year-old now. Those who have read my blog probably know I have two girls. Currently 8 and 18.
Well, now you may be wondering why on earth did I die and go to heaven? Well add a V to the DIE and it becomes a DIVE. So on the 1st January, 2007 we went on our first ever dive. All 3 of us. DH, the little girl and I.
We drove down from Manila with our friend, AA to Anilao. Anilao is a lovely barangay (village or a small district) on the Luzon island and a few hours drive, South of Manila. It is a diver and snorkelers paradise.
So on New Year’s morning, after a sumptuous Filipino breakfast and some nice, strong coffee we prepped ourselves into dive mode. After we had worn our wet suits and strapped the oxygen tanks, our Dive Master and AA took us through the various dos and dont’s, along with a set of instructions that we were to follow. The DH and I went in first with the Dive Master. We did a small test dive and a drill before taking the real plunge. Escorted by our Dive master we signaled with her fingers that the air pressure was fine and then gradually went on the descent from 0 feet to 15 feet and then to about 40 feet.
Our dive site was called, The Cathedral. It was another world down under. Enthralling and of things fairy tales are made of, where mermaids prance and fishes dance. Where sea water meets corals and the sea anemones, star fish, clown fish, sea cucumbers, sea horses go on a kind of trance. I had heard stories about heaven all through my growing up years. I imagined it to be a pristine place surrounded with natural beauty, meditative calm and awe-inspiring creatures of the universe. As we placidly swam under the sea, along with the fascinating inhabitants of our all new destination, I thought to myself, “If this isn’t heaven, then what is? I was awe-struck by the spectacular beauty of the South China sea.
We came across critters , squids, nudibranchs, squids, cuttle fish & large schools of jacks. And how could we have missed that coy, and the clannish charmer, the clown fish (Nemo), who shares a symbiotic relationship with the sea anemone?! I almost fist bumped a puffer fish and was so excited to see one that I cupped it in my hands and in a bid to protect itself, it puffed up into a huge ball. This grey guy seemed like one of those squishy stress balls with a gaping mouth that almost blinked at me in astonishment! A funny yet unique sight to behold. We then swam underwater and reached the Cathedral site, named so because of a small coral-encrusted cross, which was erected between two humongous rocks that guard the gateway to a deep abyss. The cross was brought and planted by former Philippines President Fidel Ramos who happens to be an avid traveler. It was also blessed by Pope John Paul II. After we were done with our dive our little girl was taken on hers, almost 15-20 feet down under. She came back squealing with excitement. She couldn’t stop gushing about her fascinating experience, just like us.
As we headed back to our rooms to change, I thought to myself who wants to go to heaven when we have so many heavens right here on earth? Heaven is what you make of life, heaven is in these little natural bounties and wonders the universe has bestowed upon us, heaven is in these small pleasures we experience, heaven is what you make of what you are given, heaven is out there and within us.
My theme for this year’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge is Travel Epiphanies that are my very own tales of adventure and revelation. I will be writing 26 posts throughout the month of April. You can read my theme here.