scuba duba do

The last two days I’ve spent primarily on a boat receiving beginner scuba instruction from a quasi-English-speaking local named Avis or 50 feet under water receiving the same instruction through sign language. Either way, it’s been a much bigger challenge than I had ever expected. Now granted I am attempting to get my PADI open water certification, not just going for fun dives where they give you basic instruction (i.e. keep the regulator in your mouth, breathe in and out, swim under water). I am supposedly being prepared so that I can dive on my own and be able to deal with such issues as water in my regulator, water in my mask, my mask getting ripped off somehow (by what? a shark? I’d probably rather not have to see what happens after that anyway), running out of oxygen, and maintaining a hovering position through my breathing. I’m sure when it’s all said and done I’ll be happy to have the official certification, but in hindsight I think I’d rather be fun diving for my first experience rather than have the pressure of putting myself in precarious situations and then getting myself out of them. Example 1: Take your regulator (your breathing mechanism) out of your mouth, toss it over your shoulder, signal to your “buddy” that your air supply’s been cut off, then wait for your buddy to offer you his secondary regulator. Example 2: Close your eyes (if you wear contacts as I do), rip your mask off of your own head, put mask back on your face and attempt to blow all of the water out through your nose, all while remembering to keep breathing through your mouth and not your nose. Oh, and folks…perform these acts all while Avis observes your technique a mere 3 inches from your face. Yeah flippin’ right. After each trick I perform, Avis gives me the okay sign as a means of asking me if I’m okay, which I’m supposed to confirm with an “okay” signal also. Well since there are no dive signs for “I just swallowed a pint of salt water,” “my f’ing eyes are burning” or “can we talk about this first because I’m having a severe panic attack” so “okay” had to suffice. Due to scheduling I’m also doing the intensive course which is 3 days instead of 4. I think the 4-day version involves a lot of skill practice in a fresh water pool before heading out into the deep, salty, moving ocean. I would suggest the longer version to anyone like myself who has never dived before. Familiarizing myself with how everything is supposed to work as well as what happens when it doesn’t work was a tad overwhelming. The upside to all of this stress is that I didn’t have energy left to stress about all of the small and large creatures whose home I was invading. There was certainly plenty of time for exploring, especially today, and completely worth the downsides, not least of which is a pretty bad head cold that finally caught up to me thanks to my germ-ridden children back home. The highlight for me has definitely been swimming with the sea turtles; anyone I’ve ever discussed snorkeling with knows my biggest frustration has been never once seeing a turtle. I’ve even made a point to snorkel at places like Turtle Heaven and Turtle Town and not seen a turtle. I’ve asked locals where to find turtles and not seen a turtle. Finally I found them and boy did I find them – I must have seen at least 10. I watched them, swam with them, touched them. It was spectacular. I came out of the water a bit before my instructor and barely missed seeing a shark. I have requested we try to hit up shark waters on my last dive tomorrow. If not, though, the endless colors, shapes and sizes of coral and fish were enough to have me hooked on scuba. We even floated along a beautiful coral wall about 50 feet under the surface that was positively radiant with life. We had a third diver with us today from Indonesia who brought his camera and took some great shots and promised to email them to me, but unfortunately for now you’ll have to take me at my word. Until next time…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s