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The Penny & Martin adventure: phase 1

The first phase of the Penny and Martin adventure has come to an end: after a few days of Wellington, we are now sitting on the ferry to Picton, beginning our week-long road trip of the South Island.

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We spent the first three days getting our PADI Open Water diving certification. After the obligatory pool session, in which we practiced certain basic skills, such as taking off and replacing the mask underwater and breathing from the partner's (buddy's) backup regulator, we were ready for the open water. Four dives at Kau Bay later, during which we played with sea horses^W ponies, captured and ate scallops (well, the others captured them…), and were chased by vicious jellyfish, we can now go diving whenever and wherever we want, down to 18 metres — and intend to do so a few times during the coming week.

Later on Tuesday, I accepted the invitation by the folks at the New Zealand Sea Adventures dive shop, Mike and Seamus, and joined them for another dive in the evening, with conditions even worse than the previous four descents. Together with my buddy Jess, a volcano researcher from London, I experienced close to zero visibility at about 12 metres of depth — rain and strong winds made the water really murky. I can easily understand how one might get disoriented and uneasy in the pitch black, but with Jess keeping an excellent bearing, it was all hunky dory for me, tagging on to her side and swimming along.

Later that night, accompanied by two popping ears, Penny and I joined two of her close friends, Lisa and Chris, for an evening of games, and was introduced to the card game "500", which is rather similar to the Bavarian game "Schafkopf". It thus didn't take me long to get a grasp… and win!

Wednesday was Waitangi day, the anniversary of the equinomial treaty, and Wellington celebrated it with the One Love festival. Our plans for the day — eating breakfast in the tree, frolic at the festival, and chill on the beach — started to fall apart when we found aforementioned tree to be trimmed beyond recognition (at least in terms of function). A whining, hung-over Chris in the backseat and a traffic jam then made us skip the festival in favour of breakfast at the "Recovery Room" (great name!), and general absence of summery temperatures caused us to settle in Penny's back yard for beers and the last rays of sun instead. A Thai dinner later, we slept.

(This post is dedicated to Daren, lover of "and then" reports.)