Turtles within reach
When I left to Lombok, I promised to return to Gili Air for one reason only: to swim with turtles.
On a discounted price (when they say this, they actually mean the normal price, but you feel better paying it), for 100.000 rupees, so around 7,5 USD you can join a 4-5 hours long boat trip on the hunt to see turtles.
Before the lunch break we stopped fout times close to the shores of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Every time we followed our guide, Jeff, who is unbeatable – as any other guide on the islands – in finding turtles. Because here every person is No.1. in what s/he is doing.
At the first time I focused on not losing Jeff, not to drink too much salt water and to spot at least one turtle. Somehow my vision narrowed down, and I haven’t seen any colorful fish around me. I finally saw a turtle, on the seabed. Usually the guides dive down and urge the turtles to move towards the surface, where at least 30 people fight to have a water selfie with it. For me it was already an amazing experience to watch them from the distance.
The second stop was just amazing. I started to enjoy the water and my surrounding. Thousands of different kind of fish, some that I’ve seen already before: the turquoise, the black and yellow striped, the sail-shaped; and the ones I’ve just discovered: blue-green, sand colored, long and super-yellow or the huge one with changing colors. And again, suddenly a thousand tiny little fish was schooling around me. I was schooling with them for minutes, at least it seemed like long minutes. I felt I’ the luckiest person on earth. This is it, there’s nothing like this. I was so wrong.
Someone from the group discovered a turtle swimming close to the surface. As the rest of the group was mainly around Jeff, not many of them noticed. I was really quick getting there. I have no clue if anyone else was there around me, but it felt like being only the two of us: the turtle and me. It was within my reach, slowly swimming up to the surface and diving in a bit again. I could’ve touch it, but I did not want to. It was perfect like this. We were swimming together a bit, then it looked at me as if saying good bye and dived towards the sea bed. I did not try to follow, just watched as it is disappearing below me. I was so happy. It was just an unbelievable experience. Tears came into my eyes, and I was about to cry – but then I thought it is not such a good idea to cry into the mask.