Opo le héros prend la pose avec le rescapé sauvé des eaux... (Ondoliang Beach, Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
Opo the hero poses with the survivor rescued from the waters ... (Ondoliang Beach, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

My Underwater Guide Opo, A Hero

  Indonesia: Sulawesi + Raja Ampat - July 2017

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

He's such a great guy. Opo, my dive guide in the waters of Central Sulawesi, became my hero. Because I can be a real burden sometimes...

Beneath the surface

July 3, 2017. I go back to the surface quietly, after three minutes of the safety landing at 5 meters. I mechanically control my climbing speed on thedive computer on my left wrist, then I meet the eye of my guide Opo behind his mask, which goes back to the same pace, facing me.

Opo remonte vers la surface, en faisant le signe OK. (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
Opo goes back to the surface, making the OK sign. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Opo rassemble les blocs sur la plage du Tompotika, à Kampanar. (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
Opo gathers the blocks on the beach of Tompotika, in Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

He greeted me the day before at the nice little diving resort Tompotika, after my eventful journey to reach the village of Kampanar, on the eastern peninsula of Central Sulawesi.

At 49, he is an experienced Indonesian dive guide. Originally from Manado, he knows very well the most famous spots of Sulawesi. He has accompanied scientific expeditions, particularly to the Banggai Islands, and has worked for a long time at the Murex Bangka, where I've been to before. During our discussions, during my stay in Kampanar, we discover common knowledge ... The world of diving is very small!

That day, Opo makes me discover the beautiful site of Batu Tekek, off Kampanar. A reef full of life, where colorful soft corals and gorgonians abound. He is a patient, attentive, caring guide. He takes the time to tell me which areas of the reef are most conducive to the mood shots.

The visibility is not extraordinary (I was warned, in this season, in this region of Central Sulawesi, water is very high in particles and plankton). But I still manage to make some cool pictures under the water.

Sur le récif de Batu Tekek, les coraux mous colorés abondent. (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
On the reef of Batu Tekek, colorful soft corals abound. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Du corail à foison, des poissons qui frétillent partout... Batu Tekek m'enchante ! (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
From coral to abundance, fish wagging everywhere ... Batu Tekek enchants me! (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Une impressionnante gorgone trône sur le récif de Batu Tekek. (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
An impressive gorgon sits on the reef of Batu Tekek. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
J'ignore le nom de ce corail, très répandu dans les eaux indonésiennes. Je l'ai surnommé "buisson ardent". (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
I do not know the name of this coral, which is very common in Indonesian waters. I nicknamed it "burning bush". (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Une élégante gorgone rose, déploie ses polypes face au courant. (Batu Tekek, Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
An elegant pink gorgon unfurls his polyps against the current. (Batu Tekek, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Les anthias et les demoiselles frétillent. (Batu Tekek, Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
Anthias and damsels wriggle. (Batu Tekek, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

Once on the surface, we remove our equipment, move it to boatman and go back on the Tompotika boat. And it's there, when I want to check my diving parameters, that I discover that my computer is no longer on my wrist ... 😱

The boat is not very big and we are not many, there is just another couple of divers, Nadia and Akim, another guide and the boatman. Everyone helps me to look, in the middle of the fins and stabs (stabilizing vests) stored. We quickly get to the obvious: what is not on board is necessarily at the bottom of the water ...

Ball on board

Opo is sincerely sorry for me. "We will come back to dive here, we will try to find him", he promises me. Yeah, as much searching for a needle in a haystack ... I look good in front of the others, but I pester internally against my negligence. It's inevitably when I came back to the surface that I lost it, I remember very well having consulted it during the ascent and the safety stop.

As I always make the same gestures, mechanically, when I remove my equipment in the water once on the surface, I did not see that he had slipped my wrist at that time. I lacked vigilance. We must be wary of the strength of the habit, the overflow of self-confidence ... In short, I can only blame myself.

Well, it's not a tragedy either, it's just a material loss. It is replacing. But it's not exactly given, that kind of material. It makes you moan.

Opo kindly proposes to try our luck in the wake, in second dive of the day. But this time, the conditions are against us: reduced brightness with a sky that has turned gray, poor visibility under water and current that pushes against the reef, making it impossible to explore the area where the computer must have fallen ... too bad.

Opo garde sa bonne humeur, malgré la touriste boulet à bord... (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
Opo keeps his good mood, despite the tourist ball on board ... (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

"We'll come back to a better time," promises me again Opo. He is really nice. I do not ask so much and I do not want to be a ball.

At the end of the day, I resigned myself to this loss and do not see the point of spoiling the mood because of it. Opo lends me a computer from the center for the following days.

The hero of the day

July 6, 2017. Three days later, I am the only customer diving in Tompotika. The others are gone and the new ones have not arrived yet. It's a beautiful day, today or never: we go back to Batu Tekek!

On longe la péninsule pour rejoindre le site de Batu Tekek. La balade en mer est magnifique ! (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
We drive along the peninsula to reach the Batu Tekek site. The ride at sea is beautiful! (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

The other guide and Opo's son accompany us under the water. The plan: to immerse yourself where we surfaced the other day, go down, scan the bottom with our four pairs of eyes. "If nothing is found, I'll look a little further on my side, Opo tells me. All you have to do is stay together while diving along the reef. " 

The diving is even more beautiful than the other day! At first, I start by inspecting the bottom at about thirty meters, methodically, making U, but without much conviction. After a while, I see Opo make signs: he goes to explore the bottom a little further and tells us to stay together, following the reef.

A few minutes later, we went up to 20 meters, near the drop, when it reappears. He pretends to nothing, his arms crossed against his chest, his hands hidden, but he has eyes that shine behind his mask. And he can not resist the pleasure of showing me his find!

Too strong. 😲

Surprise ! Regardez ce qu'Opo nous ramène... (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
Surprise! Watch what Opo brings back ... (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Mon ordinateur, récupéré par Opo à une trentaine de mètres de fond, gisait sous l'eau depuis 4302 minutes, soit 3 jours... (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
My computer, recovered by Opo at about thirty meters deep, lay under water for 4302 minutes, or 3 days ... And, yes, too bad for the photo, it holds it upside down ... (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia , July 2017)

I scream in my regulator (for non-divers: it's the tip that we have in the mouth to breathe). Unbelievable ! He found my computer! He lay there, the screen against the sand, the bracelet intact and closed, for three days, 31.9 meters deep.

Opo is the hero of the day. During our surface interval, on the beautiful white sand beach of Ondoliang, I tell him his feat in front of the iPhone:

I'm a little ashamed, he was not obliged to give himself this pain, but he did it anyway. I am sincerely grateful to him. And that day, I find that the name given to foreigners in Indonesia (bule, to pronounce ... boulet) sounds really good for my little person! 😂

Ondoliang Beach

I thank Opo endlessly and we follow the memory photos, before attacking coconut and grilled fish with local fishermen. For them, the bule Boulet is a nice distraction and an exotic tourist subject to photograph on the phone. I take the pose with the group, then each one of them ...

Even without the pretext of the engulfed computer, it was worth pushing here to enjoy this beautiful beach.

La magnifique plage d'Ondoliang, où nous avons fait l'intervalle de surface. (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
The beautiful beach of Ondoliang, where we did the surface interval. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Le bleu de l'eau fait presque mal aux yeux. (Ondoliang Beach, Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
The blue of the water almost hurts the eyes. (Ondoliang Beach, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Les pêcheurs ont allumé un feu sur le sable pour griller les poissons. (Ondoliang Beach, Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
The fishermen lit a fire on the sand to grill the fish. (Ondoliang Beach, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Ondoliang, la plage parfaite... (Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
Ondoliang, the perfect beach ... (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Et puis on n'est pas dérangé par la foule... (Ondoliang Beach, Centre-Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2017)
And we are not disturbed by the crowd ... (Ondoliang Beach, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

A good lesson

You have to learn from your mistakes. In my case, it will still take two lessons ... 😬 Yes, I admit, the same incident had happened to me, in similar circumstances, a year ago, in Egypt. My old dive computer had also ended up sunk in the bottom of the Red Sea. There we could not go get it. It had been a good excuse to offer me a brand new ...

Lesson held, this time: never again I will remove my stab like a backpack!

In fact, twice, the same causes produced the same effects: a wrist too thin and a bracelet too big badly tight on the neoprene suit. Result, the passage of the straps of the stab, the bracelet can catch and slide off my wrist without me noticing.

My first computer was yet secure with a strap. It was not enough. She had to loosen too. I will install a Velcro system on the inside of the second, to prevent it from slipping. Irony of the situation, there is precisely on my combination, at the wrist, a "universal computer holder" designed exactly for that - but I lost the part to fix the bracelet of the computer, supposed to cling to the piece of fluffy fabric underneath, so I'll have to tinker with it myself ...

Le système "Universal Computer Holder". (Crédit photo : Beuchat)
The "Universal Computer Holder" system. (Photo credit: Beuchat)

Finally, on the advice of Opo, I changed my habits to decaprate on the surface. I now slowly open the clip of the left shoulder strap with the right hand, to completely release my left shoulder and remove my vest without contortion, which avoids any unfortunate collision with the bracelet of the computer ...

Thanks again Opo! Terima kasih banyak!

Après cet épisode, Opo a continué à jouer les modèles sous-marins... (Alibaba, Centre-Sulawesi, juillet 2017)
After this episode, Opo continued to play underwater models ... (Alibaba, Center-Sulawesi, July 2017)

  Indonesia: Sulawesi + Raja Ampat - July 2017