Divemaster Diaries: Getting used to ‘island time’

This is part of my Divemaster Diaries series where I’ll be documenting my experiences studying to become a PADI dive professional on the tiny Indonesian island of Gili Air. There will be posts with practical info coming, but here are my thoughts on the experience. For other posts click here!


No Electricity? No problem!

I’m dozing gently when I hear the noise. Or rather lack thereof. The slow whirr of my fan decelerates and grinds to a halt, my fridge splutters off. I stumble out of bed and try the light switch. No power, damn.

Poking my head outside I call across to my landlady on the opposite porch. “My power is off – no electricity in my house?”

“Yes! No power in whole island. Some problem somewhere, maybe.”

“Do you know when it will come back on?” I’m a bit worried about the fact that on a day I’d put aside to do online work there might not be a way to power the many devices I require to complete my tasks.

“Maybe 15 minutes,” I exhale in relief, “but maybe tomorrow.” Hmm, island time takes some adjusting to.

beach boat gili air

Who needs electricity with views like the above anyway?

Diver, diver! Are you okay?

The same laid back attitude is carrying over into our course. In order to begin the Divemaster Internship candidates must have completed their Rescue Diver, which we’d chosen to do on the island. We began the four day course last Tuesday but a combination of visitors on the island, a drama with immigration and the two day Instructor Exams has buggered up the timing.

Then, just as we were ready to get stuck right in and finish up my stupid damn sinuses decided to block right up while I got a cold. Don’t ask me how I managed to get sick on an island where the temperature rarely dips below 28 degrees, but I did.

We are taking two steps forward and one step back, trying to climb up a sand dune while constantly sliding downhill.

washing in house gili air

Hangry Hippos

It didn’t take long for us to realise that if we were hungry (or, God forbid, hangry) it was definitely not a good idea to eat someplace that needed to cook the food. Several times we found ourselves dying from starvation – slight exaggeration – marking time for almost an hour while we saw our chef having a smoke break out the back. Indonesian food is delicious, waiting for it is torture!

One time there was a half an hour delay to get our bill because the waiter had been roped in to cooking in the kitchen.

A wise friend once observed that the hotter the place, the more relaxed the attitude. I’d argue that the same can be said for the size of a place. So combining a tiny island with high temperatures seems to be a death knell for urgency.

And trust me, when I’m hungry I want urgency in that kitchen!

bakso food gili air

The above is my favourite fast food on the island – bakso – a spicy soup with steamed chicken balls!

If you can’t beat them, join them!

After almost two weeks here though, we’ve realised that eventually everything comes together and works out. You just need to keep faith that while the system might look chaotic, in the end you’ll get the result you need.

Eventually the power will come back on, even if it goes back off two days later. Your rumbling belly will be filled with delicious nasi goring at some point but making all that deliciousness takes time.

My nose is feeling less stuffy so soon I’ll be able to dive. We merely need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on our rescue course and then the real work will begin.

Island time might take a bit longer, but you always get what you need. So you may as well enjoy the wait.

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