There’s nothing quite so humbling as being on a tiny island during a storm. You feel all its power with none of the buffers of city or suburban life to mitigate it. The howling winds rattle the windows and drive rain into the walls and ceiling of your room. It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, a strange cocktail of stress hormones sitting in the pit of your stomach.
We felt the storm out at sea before it hit the island of Kadavu. The very first dive I and the other former divers-in-training undertook with the rest of the group was outside the protection of the fringing reef. Waves tossed our boat from side to side, making entering and exiting a harrowing experience. Beneath the waves was little better; strong surge rocked us back and forth, threatening to slam us into the delicate coral with every sway. A few of us declined to go on the second dive.
It’s easy to forget that the gently lapping waves at Matava’s dock have been neutered by the reef far off the island’s shores. But once you remember, it becomes a source of amazement. Our second dive took place within the safety of the lagoon, and it felt like an entirely different ocean. How wonderful, that a collection of invertebrates building an external skeleton over thousands and thousands of years can make an entire island so much safer.