Diving In The Kuda Rah Thila and the Ali Thila Dive Sites, South Ari Atoll, Maldives


Diving In The Kuda Rah Thila and the Ali Thila Dive Sites, South Ari Atoll, Maldives

I went diving twice at the Kuda Rah Thila dive site.

The first time, the current was so strong that everyone used their hooks to tether themselves to the reef, in order not to drift away from the dive site.

The words “Kuda Rah” mean “Small Island,” and it is indeed a small underwater mountain (Thila) that is full of thousands of fish.

I did not bring a hook, because in many places that I have dived, the use of hooks are not allowed under any conditions.

But here in the Maldives, which is known for its very strong currents, every diver carries a hook.

I also did not wear my gloves, which would have allowed me to hold onto a rock in the reef without the risk of touching any poisonous coral or fish.

I wasted a lot of my Nitrox air trying to stay in place, until the dive master asked me to hold on to him, while he anchored himself to the reef.

I felt intimidated by the strong currents after this difficult first dive.

When I saw the Kuda Rah dive site on the sign-up sheet again a few days later, I was hesitant to try a second time.

But my only other option was to go on a boat that was going to two dive sites that were categorized as easy, that I had already dove at least twice before.

I decided to sign up for Kuda Rah and face my fears.

One of the dive shop crew lent me a hook, since they do not sell any diving equipment in this remote island shop.

I also brought my gloves and braced myself for the challenge.

On the boat, the dive master gave us a briefing and paired us up with our “dive buddies.”

All the divers on the boat were from Germany, and I was paired up with a man who seemed nice.

We got ready to jump from the boat, using “Negative Entry.”

Divers use negative entry when the diving conditions are rough, like strong currents.

Instead of waiting on the surface until everyone jumps into the water and then deflating his BCD and going down, each diver jumps in with a deflated BCD, and we all meet at the bottom at a depth of around 30 feet, so we can swim together to the dive site.

Right before jumping, while wearing our weights, BCD’s and masks on our faces, and while I had no time to object, my buddy  “informed” me that he wanted us to anchor to the reef at the corner of the Thila, where the chances are better of seeing sharks.

This is a common way to enter this dive site, and usually divers spend up to ten minutes looking at the deep blue, at the circling sharks.

My dive buddy said in a commanding voice, that we should stay there for at LEAST fifteen minutes, perhaps even more.

I almost choked at his demand.

I wanted to follow the dive master, who knows the site and all the nooks and crannies where beautiful creatures hide, instead of spending a third of my diving time looking at distant sharks.

But the dive master was already in the water, and I had no time to object.

We all jumped with a negative entry and sank into the deep blue sea.

We all assembled at the split point, where the currents split, and we saw five or six sharks and an eagle ray.

After ten minutes, the dive master signaled us that we should continue with the dive, and come back later to look again at the sharks.

I followed the dive master, as instructed.

Schools of thousands of fish were comfortably swimming in unison between the rock formations.

Because the area is protected, the fish are not afraid of people, and allowed us to swim among them.

If a diver does not make any aggressive moves or flip her fins too hard, they simply would encircle us as if we were one of them.

I absolutely LOVED swimming between those schools of fish.

While I was inside these clouds of many thousands of fish, I had no visibility of any of the other divers, my buddy included.

But since we all were advanced divers, I simply assumed that he was following the group.

When we got out of the clouds of fish, the dive master pointed to my buddy and signaled me to stay close to him.

I obeyed and for the rest of this beautiful dive, stayed close to my buddy until we finished the dive and got up to the surface.

When we got up to the surface, I realized he was not my dive buddy, but another nice diver in our group.

My buddy and this nice man both wore shortie dive suits in black and red, and had the same haircut, skin color and height.

When we got up to the boat, I apologized to my buddy, and he complained that I had left and followed the dive master, while I should’ve stayed with him as he looked at the sharks.

This Macho chauvinistic attitude is hard for me to handle.

After all, we did not make a diving plan that I failed to fulfill.

He gave me orders that I did not agree to do, and I even told him that I planned to follow the dive master to explore the whole site and dive with the schools of fish.

For the second dive, he buddied up with a nice young German boy with an angelic face, who agreed to be his buddy and being a young diver, was willing to take his orders.

I teamed up with the dive master instead.

We dived the second dive at Ali Thila, which is a shallower place and very nice.

After we returned to the resort, I reflected on what had happened.

I felt a little guilty, although I am a bit allergic to Macho chauvinistic behavior.

Just a day before, I was teamed with a dive buddy who before the dive, asked me how I was on air consumption.

I told him that I am usually not a heavy breather, and unless we dive very deep or the currents are very strong, I can easily dive for an hour and have air left.

I guess he wanted to make sure that buddying with me would not mean that he would have a short dive time because of me, which was a fair question to ask.

But when I asked him now was his air consumption, he said: “I am good, although everyone knows that men breathe better than women.”

This sent my head into a spin.

I knew that sexism runs deep in all societies, but I have never heard of the inferiority of women as breathers!

Immediately I recalled some of the super-women who are my neighbors in Colorado, women who can climb the “fourteeners,” the highest peaks in Colorado, each over 14,000 feet, with their mountain bikes on their shoulders, and after summiting those high mountains where the oxygen is low, they ride down the super-steep paths on their bikes, as if they fly between reality and the dream world.

None of these corporate type bossy and demanding men can match these powerful zen-minded women at anything, yet the stereotypes of male superiority still stay in their minds.

I said nothing, but was not surprised when at the end of the dive, he finished with less air than I had.

I had never before let my buddy get out of my sight, and NEVER  mistaken my buddy for someone else, although in all fairness they wore the same dive suits, which must be a popular brand in Germany.

They also were of the same age and looked very much alike with their silvery grey hair.

I guess it was the signal from the dive master combined with my subconscious mind, that gravitated me towards the much nicer diver.

The next day on our morning dives, I was buddied with a lovely French woman.

She was an excellent diver and gave me no unreasonable orders.

We dove together but stayed with the group the whole time, which was a real pleasure.

With love and thousands of yellow and blue fishes,

Tali

2 Comments on “Diving In The Kuda Rah Thila and the Ali Thila Dive Sites, South Ari Atoll, Maldives”

  1. Hello
    You are amazing Tali
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful adventures!
    We miss you,
    Fariba

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