“Life in Blue”
Marco is the head of the diving centre of the island of Cavallo and has collaborated for many years with the Hotel & SPA des Pecheurs.
His life is split between two continents but united by one constant passion: the sea and its depths.
Your life is split between Thailand and the Island of Cavallo: what does each of these enchanting but very different places give you?
Looking back at the time I’ve spent in each of them, I can honestly say that my experience has been wonderful in both cases. The places where I spend my time are characterized by a special relationship with nature and the sea.
Cavallo is unique in the world, for its ecosystem is completely different to that of any other place I’ve had the chance to visit. Life on that island is controlled by the wind, everything there depends on sea conditions. The granite you find there – with its massive solidity – certainly plays a role, influencing the mood and state of mind of inhabitants and visitors.
The feeling of peace and harmony with nature you get is truly unique.
On the other hand, Thailand is dominated by the sea and by the rain forest, which is almost entirely unexplored. The centuries-old culture of Thai people is among the most hospitable and tolerant ones in the world, it makes you feel at home anywhere. The Thai are a proud and resolute people, and they have made hospitality the defining characteristic of their relationships with other people.
In both cases, the climate is optimal: Cavallo in the summer and Thailand in winter.
To give you a brief answer, I’d say that these places give me an extraordinary joie de vivre. Among the things that they have in common are the daylight and the rhythm of time, which are never monotonous, but vary continuously. Stress, depression and melancholy are non-existent.
Can you describe a day in your life on the island of Cavallo?
My day starts very early, I get up at dawn to enjoy one of the most extraordinary moments of the island: the sunrise.
After a couple of hours of meditation and martial arts (Thai chi, Qi gong and Yoga), I walk one or two laps around the island. I plan dives from 8.30 am onwards, dividing spots and participants based on experience and training level. From 5.00 pm to 7.30 pm I am busy with customer reception.
My day is very challenging, both physically and mentally, since I have the constant and important responsibility of ensuring that all participants are safe and enjoy their dive, so I go to bed pretty early, after a couple of hours spent reading a good book and a few minutes of meditation and thanksgiving.
What do you regard as an unforgettable experience?
Transparency: sometimes the waters we dive into are so clear that you literally feel like flying, or like diving into the transparency of crystal. Unfortunately, human pollution is about to destroy the possibility to experience those amazing moments.
Turquoise or green?
Turquoise in Cavallo and emerald green in Thailand.
Any advice on diving in Europe versus diving in Asia?
No matter where you are, you should be acquainted with the appropriate techniques to dive safely and be aware of your limitations in order to have a peaceful and enjoyable dive.
In temperate waters (Europe), we need greater thermal protection, and thus more weight (to offset positive buoyancy). In warm waters (Asia) we are lighter, and thus more fluid. In European waters we have to go down to great depths, so dives will have a shorter duration. There is a difference also with regard to light – softer and gentler in Europe, stronger and brighter in Asia.
The fauna and vegetation differ in terms of colours and sizes – brighter and bigger in Asian waters, more blurred and defined in European waters. For sure, both experiences are unique in their kind – a little like the perception of beauty in art.
The weirdest, most remarkable fish you’ve ever seen?
The whale shark in Asia, and the sea-eagle in Europe.
When diving, men enter into alien territory. Since that is not our environment as human beings, what are your tips for exploring the deep blue?
My tips are as follows: adequately learn the necessary techniques for diving safely; listen to yourself; respect yourself and the environment that surrounds us; observe and listen to what you feel inside (your mood/state of mind) as well as the surrounding environment. Learn to breathe properly (which is useful also in our daily life); share your experiences with your diving partner; know your limits and never exceed them, especially not in order to take unnecessary challenges.
Is there anything you find special about your life or, in general, about diving as a profession?
There are three things that I find truly amazing and extraordinary:
1) Having the possibility of exploring a dimension of the universe in which life forms are so different from those on dry land. You don’t need to go to the moon to see what life or the world could be like “on another planet”… you just need to put your head underwater.
2) Being able to convey knowledge that goes beyond ordinary human experience, that is, to assist others in learning about life forms and natural habitats that they could not even imagine existed before they started diving with me. Every time I accompany someone underwater I feel like I’m sharing with them a sense of wonder not unlike the one you experience when you look at the stars in the sky. It’s just so awesome to participate in the lives of others in this way.
3) Having the opportunity to access my inner self (by which I mean a mental and spiritual dimension) in a way that is as unimaginable as what I was referring to in point 2 above. Your thoughts, your emotions, forms of perception that do not rely on the five senses, enable you to experience your inner and outer world in a way otherwise unimaginable. If I had to describe this to someone who has never tried scuba diving before, I guess I would compare it to the inner peace you feel when you walk in the woods, but the feeling is way more intense underwater.
What is the “City of Groupers” [aka Mérouville]?
It’s a unique diving site where fish, including large ones, interact with human beings in a very special way. When you see them coming with you throughout your dive and then just going back to their business as soon as you leave, you witness something really unique, something I’ve never seen anywhere else.
You life is split between two continents and two cultures. What is your philosophy in this regard?
When two cultures and their differences meet, difficulties can be overcome and inner growth becomes possible. To sum up my philosophy on life: Always welcome people who are different from you and, moment by moment, try to become a better person; recognize your limitations, including cultural ones, and turn them into powerful tools for happiness.
If you had to choose between Cavallo and Thailand, which would you choose?
That’s the hardest question you’ve asked me! I’ve never spent winter in Cavallo (there’s no job for me there in winter), and living there permanently would mean becoming a sort of hermit. I prefer to isolate myself – both mentally and physically – for short, specific periods of time and then go back to the world: there’s a beauty in going back, and I consider that very important in my life’s journey.
As for Thailand, the rainy season – which corresponds to the summer months in Europe – is particularly extreme and dreary: the Thai, who like to call themselves “the smiling people”, grow very sad and gloomy in that time of the year, and they even advise you against going there during the wet season.
I really don’t know how to answer this question. I guess I’ll keep living my life in both places until I no longer have the energy to do so… After that, we’ll see.