Many years ago, when Angela and I had just gotten married, we went to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean for a week. Back then we were still living in Italy, fully immersed in the mindless, localized culture of the place, and lost in the blissful ignorance of our younger years, and for these reasons, I suppose, we were easily impressed. Or at least I was – Angela was definitely more cosmopolitan than me. But anyway, among the variety of beautiful things we were exposed to, there happened to be… fish.
Colorful, plentiful, curious fish, juveniles of tropical fish living in the shallow reef near the resort, which we went to visit daily on afternoon boat trips, armed with mask, snorkel and fins. We would float around and marvel at the colorful fish, the mysterious domes of coral, and we would be freaked out by the thorny appearance of the staghorn coral, so shallow at moments, that I remember sucking my belly in while floating above it, in the valley between wave crests. Little black and white striped Sergeant Majors would come and face us, so close to our nose that sometimes they were successful at their attempts to intimidate us. Silliness. Awe. The natural world. Tropical climate. The discovery of a new submerged planet. We fucking loved it.
Back home, in Livorno, we got our scuba certification, and started diving in the Mediterranean sea. There wasn’t much to see, honestly, mostly rocks and algae, with the occasional fish, a token sunken frozen fish transport boat (il Genepesca), garbage, and other divers. Well, it wasn’t so bad, especially at Elba and Capraia, but it was good enough to get us through the neophyte stage, when all the new scuba gear is unfamiliar, the water is deep and scary, and everyone else seems to be a lot more experienced.
And so it was, that’s how Angela and I started diving, and there were many diving trips afterwards, but those stories are for another day.