scuba summer round 2

photo from last summer

Last summer I got scuba certified. First I practiced in a
pool for a couple days, and then in a lake for a couple days. It’s really heavy
gear, and breathing underwater is trippy. And you know what else is hard?
Balancing. There are so many things to pay attention to! Luckily I had Daniel
with me. He has been scuba diving before, and certified for years now.

This time around I got my adventure diving certification –
which includes deep diving, what I need for Little Cayman in August. Daniel
couldn’t come along, so I was in a class of strangers. Even the teacher was a
stranger [unlike last summer]. They didn’t have as much patience with me
because everyone had been diving several times except me. I couldn’t even
remember how to put my equipment together. It was embarrassing and frustrating.
Plus, these dives were a lot scarier. They were all in the lake, which is fine, but the visibility was so poor, I
felt very claustrophobic.

The first dive was “recreational.” We dove down to a
platform, swam to another platform, and then to a sunken boat. While at the
boat, my buoyancy issues continued. One of the instructors added weight to my
vest, but while nobody was looking, I shot up to the surface. My buddies didn’t
notice for quite some time, so I just followed their bubbles back to the
starting platform. I later learned that I was wearing a much thicker wetsuit
than I wore last summer, and needed much more weight added to the vest to compensate.
I didn’t know this at the time, and tried really hard not to cry as I waited on
the surface for my group. If Daniel had been there he would have noticed right
away, and helped me figure it out.
Riding in the back of the scuba van that rescued us from the side of the road. Before things got real.

Looking back, I do feel like I was being a bit of a baby,
but considering the hour and a half drive that morning, the car trouble on the
way, and the stress of diving for the first time in a year, for the second time
in my life, with a group of people I don’t know, having buoyancy issues and a
leak in one of my valves…it got to me.

The night dive sucked. We were about 20 feet under and all I
could see was the person in front of me, so I stayed a bit too close to my
buddy. She was a saint, putting up with me the way she did [the next day she even had to yank me down when I started floating away!]. First we swam with
the wall of the lake to my right. I saw a couple fish, but was too focused on
staying with the group. When we turned around and the wall was on my left, I
kept hitting it and freaking out. The group would stop and look at fish, and I
just wanted to finish up. It was dark and cold and I didn’t like floating into
the wall like I was. I swear I was so calm last summer, but with such limited
visibility at night, yikes.
Day one frustrations here.

The next day I sucked it up. We had a really really cold deep dive to do, and search
and retrieve. The first time I went down with my buddy for the deep dive, we
had to come back up because it was too cold. She was having trouble breathing,
and I was having trouble equalizing, so my ears were hurting. One of the
instructors offered to take us one at a time, and I agreed. My buddy already
had her deep diving certification so she decided against going back down. My
ears were still bothering me so I took my time and held on to the rope.  For a second I thought I lost the instructor because
it was so murky, but I eventually saw his flashlight. We made it to the bottom
for a few seconds and then went back up. He applauded me while we floated back
up and I couldn’t help but laugh. I was pretty proud of myself for overcoming
that discomfort and fear.

The search and retrieve dives were frustrating because we
were at the shallower end of the lake, so things kept getting silty. There was
one fortunate occasion when I went down with 2 buddies to search for a tape
measure, and we came down right on it! Well, my buddy came down right on it,
and I came down right on her head. Haha! I’m telling you, I was a mess.
A bit of ear pain and a retrieved tank later. All done!

I’m looking forward to diving with my family in clear water! This experience made me so
grateful for their patience and my darling diving buddy, Daniel. He keeps me
calm [like when he taught me to snorkel in Hawaii] and checks on me often. I
met some cool people, and some kind people [like the instructor that saved us
on the side of the road!], but oh man. No more lake diving, please.
My apologies if this post sounded whiney. I am grateful for the opportunities to do adventurous things, but it doesn’t mean they are always easy. Adventure diving was new and very difficult for me – quite the mental challenge. I was proud of myself for pushing on, no matter what. We are our toughest critic, so to feel successful, that’s quite an accomplishment. 


One Comment

  1. I feel like your final paragraph is the story of my life! I keep choosing to do challenging things for "fun" and then get super down on myself when it doesn't come easily. Last night my ballet class had a sub and he was SO much tougher than our regular teacher! Midway through I just had to laugh and stop trying to be perfect because that clearly wasn't going to happen. So, I know those feels, yo. <3

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