I’m standing behind a waist-level wall, separating our hotel and the shore. It is not, by any standard, a perfect beautiful shore. Instead of white sandy beach, the shore is covered with lava rock, left by Mount Agung eruption in 1963. But it is not for the shore or the beach of that we come to Tulamben, Bali. Some 25 meters asea, 20 meters below the water lies USAT Liberty, home to hundreds coral reef and fish species.
Mother nature might have eyed the USAT Liberty since it was torpedoed by Japanese in 1942. The Dutch and US tried to tow the ship back to the harbor North of Bali, but forced to stop due to the amount of water the Liberty take. Instead, it was abandoned at the shore of Tulamben at the Eastern shore of Bali. Then mother nature finish the job, through Mount Agung eruption, pushing USAT Liberty to its final resting place, 30 meters below sea level. In only less than 30 years, the USAT Liberty wreck has become part of the nature, with healthy coral growth, and also attract exotic marine lives, such as the Bumpheads.
I’m sitting back to the beach bench, picking the book that I was reading, but can’t really concentrate on it.
“What’s wrong?”, my wife asked when she notice me restless.
“Look there”, I said, pointing to the dark cloud hanging on top of the valley of Mount Agung behind our Hotel. “It might be raining tonight”
“Let’s wish that it will stop in the morning just before the dive”, she said. Tomorrow will be her first dive, and I know she is anxious about it, although this time she can hide it well.
“Yeah, but it will be murky water from the river flowing to the ocean if it is raining tonight. It won’t be a perfect first dive for you”, I replied
It is indeed raining that night. Not just rain, but hard rain for good couple of hour. And worst, it still drizzle in the morning when I wake up.
“So, are you still going to dive?” She asked me when she wake up.
I just stand still, looking to the outside of our room, to rain on the grass, the gray sky, the rocky shore, and finally to the water. After 4 years, 1000km flying and 150km driving to reach Tulamben, should I give up diving to USAT Liberty wreck due to the rain?
“Yes, I’m going down to the wreck”, I said firmly. “Let see if the water clear enough and if the visibility is good, then you can decide whether to go for your first dive or not”
Moment later, I put my gear on, and start the dive. Weather is still cloudy. Once we oriented ourself, we head straight to the wreck. Visibility is not good, but acceptable. There are a lobster, looking 2 alien hovering above it. Surprised, it run away to safety. Not so long after, there are a black massive object before us, getting bigger each minute passed. The USAT Liberty Wreck.
“One, two three, four, five, six. SIX”, I give hand signal to my dive guide. Waving his hand, he put up his finger. Ten. He point out the rest of 4 Bumphead hovering steadily above us. The most Bumpheads I ever see gathering at one place. They really use up the time when the morning rain, and would expect to see no alien diving. We leave them alone, and move forward.
Three hours later, my wife made her first dive at the USAT Liberty Wreck. The rain has stopped, and the The Bumpheads has since finished their business. It was a great dive for her, and also my pleasure to be back to Tulamben, Bali.