A huge part of travel for me is the people I meet and the friends I make in the places I get to experience. Some of, well most of my best friends are people I have met while living overseas or travelling and the number one thing we have in common is that we get it. Get what? The whole travel life. The coming and going frequently, the moving towns often and regularly. The face that we will rarely if ever live in the same place for long. And the feeling of saying goodbye/reuniting with each other. So when I meet people who share this passion and understanding I immediately want to know more about them and where their adventures have taken them. I find myself drawn to these sorts of people even if I've never even met them in real life, enter Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. The whole wide world of blogging has given me the opportunity to (virtually) meet people I would never have if it wasn't for this passion project I have.
The sea has always fascinated me. From the first time, I swam in the ocean some 15 years ago, to snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and seeing some of the most incredible coastlines in the UK. I feel a sense of alive-ness when I'm near the ocean, so when I first came across Florine from World Adventure Divers I knew I needed to know more. From diving, some of the World's most incredible sights and so much more, find out what drew December's WanderWoman to the ocean and what keeps her coming back for more.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
Anytime I meet someone for the first time if we start talking about travel we come to a point where I would mention I lived in 5 different countries and already have a 10 year corporate career behind me, and every time the same question "Sorry but how old are you?" I guess I should take it as a compliment that people think I'm younger. The maths can't lie, to do all of this I just passed 30 years old a long time ago, but maybe my birthday wish "to be 30 forever" was exhausted.
Did you always want to travel/what made you start?
I was privileged to have parents who, although being middle class, would insist on bringing my brother and I on holiday abroad with them every time. It sometimes meant to make different choices, going during shoulder seasons (yes, they made me missed school once or twice, oops!). I was also lucky they had this great idea of having to learn English at the same time I started learning how to read. The two together just made a language learning nerd who tried to pick a bit of every language of every place we visited (how nerdy can it be when at 12 years-old you self-teach yourself the Greek alphabet and a few words to go around).
How do you decide where to travel to?
Since I became a scuba diver, extraordinary dive sites became the link between all my trips. I have a map which I worked hours on where I listed all the places I'd love to see. But it made me realized one thing, it would be silly to try to see everything on Earth, so why not exploring the world through a common connecting theme.
What first drew you to diving?
At 14 years old, I did a discovery dive in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. I felt immediately well underwater and mesmerized by all this colourful life that was hiding below the surface. In the 1990s, scuba diving was relatively more expansive than today, despite the fact that I fell in love with the sport, I never dared to ask my parents for more. I waited 11 years, and with my first job, during my first paid vacation, I head to Thailand and just did the 2 first levels of scuba diving for a period of 2 weeks. I was hooked for life.
Top 3 bucket list places you'd love to visit?
Ningaloo Reef, Australia
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
What is something you wish you could share with your pre-travel life self?
Not to be so worried about money. I think this is one of the most significant learning I made these recent years. If you're obsessed with something you will always find a way, you may need to delay but don't postpone forever and start making plans now.
Best & Worst Travel Moment?
Ok, worst first. I guess it was a beginner mistake. I was backpacking across Sinai in Egypt (back in 2010 it was still possible), and for some reason, I decided it was ok to take the bus from St Catherine right in the middle of Sinai to Cairo, the evening before my flight back home. Of course, the bus was cancelled. Luckily I found a place to sleep and a guy who would drive a minivan the next morning at 5.30 am which was about 10 hours before the flight. I let you imagine the stress level. When the guy stopped in Suez telling us he was stopping there and we had to take a regular bus, I thought that was it. But no, in the end, I arrived something like an hour before the flight just in time before boarding. This experience changed forever the way I'm planning itineraries, now I usually end by visiting the place where I take off, at least a couple of days before.
The best moment, it's difficult to choose between the first time I saw a whale shark in Honduras or when I met a family of dolphins underwater in Belize. It could also be seeing lava flowing into the ocean in Hawaii or flying over the lagoons of New Caledonia in a small plane. Or maybe the first time I was able to have a conversation, even a basic one, in Japanese, alone in a bar. These are some of the memories that will forever put a smile on my face whatever the hardships I face.
Do you have any advice to share with someone who wants to get started with diving?
I would say you don't have to make it hard. So, pick a place with warm waters where you will have less equipment to handle. During the first level, there is so much to handle at the same time that it can feel overwhelming, so South-East Asia or the Caribbean are great places to start. Second tip, don't go for the cheapest, shop around, ask to meet your potential instructor; a good relationship with the instructor is essential to go through the course confidently.
Do you think social media has changed travel, and if so, how has it changed?
Yes, it definitely, in both good ways and bad ways. I found it extraordinary that you don't need anymore to know someone who knows someone to get the knowledge of how to do things on a budget or pursue a passion. On the other hand, very visual social media have created a craving for buzz pictures which have created intense pressure on nature sites or wildlife. We need to be mindful of what we do. This is why a couple of years ago, I decided not to show anything that wasn't organized through a dive centre that operates in a responsible way and briefing properly their customers.
Top 3 dive locations you've ever been to?
Komodo in Indonesia
Cenotes of Yucatan in Mexico
Famous last words for all the wanderers out there…
Whatever your dream, it only starts with a first step forward and comes to reality with a commitment to it.
To keep up with Florine and all her underwater adventures check our her social channels below
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