A paradise where you can drown your worries

I still remember those carefree childhood days near the water. Swimming, diving, playing with other kids in the water seemed to be a never-ending and exciting pleasure. It didn’t matter whether it was the Baltic sea or a refreshing lake, the water always made me feel so free and happy back then. During those days, I was never far from water. My mom could only call me back was when my skin chilled all the way through and I could no longer hide my blue lips.

The older I got, the less resistant I became to the cold water, and our relationship changed its form. I could stay in the water for less and less time until I finally found myself not willing to do it at all. Even so, I could still hear the water calling me to come closer and sit by its side for an hour or two. Being near it calmed me down, inspired me, and somehow helped me forget all the chaos behind my back.

Because of memories like that, the seaside towns in Lithuania will always be my favorite. I remember enjoying evenings by the water, admiring the infinite horizons, and listening to the sound of the waves, which helped empty my mind. The proximity became a way for me to still keep my relationship with the water throughout the years. Even now, I find myself longing for the chill winds and biting cold of the Lithuanian seasides

I do have to admit the climate here in the Philippines is better suited to a water lover like me. In a very real way, I can be a little girl here again because the sea in this exotic country is always warm and welcoming.

I do have to admit the climate here in the Philippines is better suited to a water lover like me.

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On our first trip to the beach here in the Philippines, I left a very surprised Paiko and Robertas behind just to be the first to reach the water. Almost without realizing it, I found myself splashing and cheerfully yelling. I only realized how silly I looked when I saw Robertas and Paiko doing the same thing. Like me, they also probably felt so lucky that they started to act like ducks for nearly a whole hour. Eventually, they snapped out of it, too, and ended up playing their usual game of ‘poor, drowning Robertas and Paiko, the heroic lifeguard.’

Best of all, all this water (or at least most of it) in the Philippines does lend itself to more than just dreaming about water sports. Back in Lithuania, even though we had a great many rivers and lakes, not to mention the Baltic Sea itself, all we ever did was swim. Here, we’ve already gotten to do everything we’ve ever imagined. We did surfing, diving, and snorkeling, plus several other activities whose names I don’t know yet. Robertas did do some diving back home, but after trying it here, he says that no longer counts.

Robertas and Paiko on our way to the best snorkeling place

If we want to surf, all we need to do is find a place to rent, arm ourselves with a great deal of patience, and make the relatively “short” drive to La Union. In the same way, it doesn’t take much effort (money is a different story) to plan a weekend-long getaway to explore Siargao island. It is a well-known paradise for surfers.

One of the world’s best spots for diving and snorkeling is only two hours away from where we live. I used to think the underwater explorers I watched on TV and YouTube videos were very brave. But now that I’ve tried it myself, I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of.

Snorkeling, however, was my very first challenge here in the Philippines. We rented a boat and went island-hopping. On the way to the first snorkeling area, Robertas patiently explained everything I needed to know. Most of which I forgot in my excitement. In my defense, right before my first try, I did try to remember everything about the special breathing techniques. With my bulky life vest tightly cinched, I was floating on the surface like a clumsy sea turtle at first. It was all I could do to not breathe through my nose. I ended up grabbing Robertas’s arm, hoping he wouldn’t remember all those times I nagged him about silly things. I was a bit afraid, but my wish to see the underwater life was stronger than any fear.

My courage and valor were soon rewarded, and the very first view I saw after lowering my head was stunning. The amazingly colorful corals and starfish, curious sea urchins, and fishes I only knew as Nemo made me completely forget my fears. I felt hypnotized. The further we swam, the more of this indescribably beautiful world opened up to me. I felt unusually serene as if I was being forced to think about everything I loved about this world. I didn’t want to leave that peaceful paradise and fervently wished Robertas’s hand would continue to lead me further.

After a couple of months, I got the chance to get to know my beloved sea at a deeper level (You see what I did there?). Robertas suggested that we take intro diving lessons, and without waiting too long, we found a couple of great instructors. Immediately after signing up for a session, we got our special diving suits and equipment. I then needed to listen to what the instructor advised me as Robertas was already quite familiar with diving. At first, I practiced in a swimming pool – I learned about breathing underwater and how to use my equipment properly. My instructor even tested me afterward, and I’m proud to say I got all the hand signals right.

Soon, the instructor allowed me to venture into the actual sea. I felt scared when I first got into the water, I started panicking. And the deeper I went, the worse the pain in my ears got. I even nearly forgot how to breathe! I felt myself plunging deeper, the water around me turning darker and darker, and I just couldn’t calm myself down. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I felt the instructor’s hand on my shoulder and I saw the unspoken question in his eyes, which woke me up from the fear. The idea that someone else was there encouraged me to concentrate and focus on my breathing. I slowly inhaled and exhaled… inhaled and exhaled… and I finally tried to clear my ears – success! In just ten minutes or so, I could feel myself calmly descending to the ocean floor and admiring the beauty of unknown underwater life. I saw skates (fishes) mating, plants closing every time I attempted to touch them. I admired myriad types of fish, and, of course, all the marvelous corals. Suddenly, my eyes caught Robertas swimming close by, and without thinking I tried to grab his arm. Beside him, I felt very safe and could freely admire the magic of life under the sea. I was so attached to everything I saw that the time flew by like an arrow. I wouldn’t have realized it was already time to rise to the surface if the instructor hadn’t signaled me.

I felt scared when I first got into the water, I started panicking. And the deeper I went, the worse the pain in my ears got. I even nearly forgot how to breathe!

My first try to dive was very successful and Robertas and I promised ourselves to get diving licenses sooner rather than later. It would be a crime to let go of this opportunity, especially when we live just two hours from Anilao. It is one of the best diving spots in all the world.

The water feels like the best miracle we could enjoy here in the Philippines. We can not only soak in the sea like children but also have the opportunity to explore deeper and see the marvelous marine life with our own eyes.

Just like back home, this water calms me down, hypnotizes me, and always calls me back. But for an entirely different reason.

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