Our second day on the island I started my Open Water Certification at Diversia with half a day in a classroom watching dated 80’s PADI videos on how to be a safe scuba diver. Then got right into the pool that afternoon with Ambra, my instructor. Everyone always said that the first breath of oxygen underwater was enough to change your life. Of course, since I’m me, the first breath, and then the second and third and fourth had me believing I was not getting enough oxygen and was surely going to pass out under water. (Imagine me hyperventilating under water from fear of not getting enough air.) We tried to do one small trip when I alerted Ambra that I had to get to the surface right away, (which was presently only 1 foot above my head!)
I lifted my head and gasped for air convinced I might pass out, or cry. I then proceeded to calm myself down. Thousands, if not millions, of people do this every single day. I could do it. So I took a few deep breaths and we tried again. Slowly, but surely, every new skill and step came to me and I did them each at my own pace. Ambra was endlessly patient and for that I was grateful. We concluded day 1 of my course and I excitedly and nervously awaited day 2 where I would have my first open water (in the Ocean) experience!
Day 2 came and we took a morning dive to Manta Point where there are, disappointingly, almost no Manta Rays left. Don’t even get me started on the environmental component of what’s going on there, but needless to say that is very sad. Every day consisted of a morning dive, a break for lunch, and a second dive at around 1 PM. I was scared to fall backwards off the dive boat, and the locals who worked for the dive shop asked me “Ready to go?” when I nervously looked back, panic stricken and said, “YOU MEAN NOW?!?” he assured me all my equipment was in place (even though I had already checked it myself about 5 times before we got to this stage.) and I finally took the plunge and fell back into the gorgeous water.
I met my coach at the back and we began our descent into the crystal blue water, (I can assure you the clarity of the water helps with the fear factor!) Once we got about 12 meters under and I could see fish swimming in all directions as far as the eye could see, and giant sea turtles hanging out at the bottom or swimming above us, I knew I had done something incredible!
I was in complete awe of what surrounded me and couldn’t believe I had actually overcome my fear of the ocean and the thoughts of fish coming up to nibble on my extremities. Our first dive was followed by a second that afternoon where we saw a shark! A SHARK!! But since I had already clarified with my instructor earlier in the day that these are in fact not the people-eating kind, I was remarkably calm as the black tip reef shark swam our way and quickly turned and went on his way when we realized we were not to his liking.
After leaving the ocean that day a new passion had been ignited and I could not wait to get back into the water the following day. How could I have waited so long to dive in the first place?