After we left Beijing, we moved to Cebu (One of the several thousand islands that make up the Philippines) where Lotty had been given a job at Cebu International School. As by that point I was about 67 years old, we decided that perhaps it might be as good a moment as any other for me to stop working and to settle back into the joys of retirement.
So that is exactly what I did.
However, I was then confronted by the problem that most people who retire are confronted with – what to do with those hours when you are not asleep?
For me, this was no real problem, since when in the Philippines one dives.. Simple.
By diving, I of course mean scuba diving, not high diving or anything like that.
Apart from one dive I had had in France many years before, during which I spent the better part of my time under water on my own, except for a friendly octopus who was busy arranging his/her garden outside the old paint tin he/she had squatted in I had never scuba dived before.
Loads of time with snorkels, but not with airbottles.
So I was introduced to a fellow called Alfred Alesna, a local dive instructor – a superb natural teacher and simply splendid guy. He had worked for many years as a professional working diver cable laying and similar, and was more at home under the sea than on the shore.
Anyhow, he was one of the many local Paddi qualified dive instructors, and he became the guy who introduced Lotty and I to the wondrous world of scuba diving.
Alfred in full diving fig, at Kon Tiki Dive Centre
In due time we both qualified as “open water divers”, which roughly means we had dived a handful of times and knew the basics of diving, how to change our bottles underwater, not get killed and so on, but were far from experienced divers, and in no way safe to be allowed to head off on our own to dive off the reefs around Mactan Island where we did most of our diving.
Poor old Lotty at this point was busy earning our livings, but I, oh joy, I was as free as a lark, and thus went diving several days a week… Which as each time I went, I probably dived three or four times, I very quickly worked up to several hundred dives, and had reached the dizzy heights of being a fully qualified Rescue Diver – which meant I was one step down from being a Dive Master, which would have meant I could train other divers.
My First Thresher Shark – So Elegant!!
However, that didn’t really appeal to me, so I stopped climbing the qualification ladder and settled down to simply enjoy my dives.
By this time I was also diving regularly with a bunch of cheerful divers who dived with Eric Vincent, the happy owner of Aquadive, one of the many dive centres there.