Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Are You For Scuba Ruben?

The Philippines is supposed to have some of the best dive sites in the world. And just about everyone we know insists we would be fools for living over here and never diving.

Naturally, I would be perfectly content being a fool. At least I would be a fool sitting on dry land, with no risk of gasping for air at 60 feet below the surface. And naturally, as with almost everything else, Lee has the opposite opinion.

Top 5 Reasons Why I Don't Want to Scuba

1. As I mentioned before, the idea of running out of oxygen at the bottom of the ocean is horrifying. I can't stand the idea of not being able to breathe, just writing about it is making me take deep breaths. And if you do run out of air, you can't just shoot back up to the surface... your lungs will explode... or something like that.

2. Sharks... need I say more? Not to mention all the other creepy crawly creatures. There are a variety of poisonous man eating sea creatures and I don't plan on being breakfast for any of them.

3. Not only do I not like scary sea creatures, but the not so scary ones don't really appeal to me either. I sometimes get freaked out when snorkeling. If I see too many fish sometimes I just lift my head out of the water so I can't see them anymore. Because if I can't see them, then maybe they will just disappear.

4. Which brings me to not being able to see things.... Those goofy looking goggles fog up constantly, and provide little peripheral vision. Something could be attacking me from the side and I would have no idea until I was sitting in its belly!

5. And last, but certainly not least, I'm slightly claustrophobic. I know the ocean is huge, but with little visibility it will seem like a small confined space... I don't do small spaces.

Of course, Lee thinks I'm neurotic and finds all of this to be irrational. He has been wanting to get certified to dive ever since we got here. I told him I would at least give it a try and get certified. But if I freak out and hate it he can't bother me about doing it anymore, because at least I tried it. Then I can happily enjoy sipping cocktails on the beach while he heads off on his death defying dive adventures.

So I agreed to try it, but I have been dragging my feet....

Me: Do you think it's a good idea to get certified here?
Lee: Yeah. Why not?
Me: Well... for starters, most of the appliances in our house have problems or don't work. And nobody thinks this is a problem. What if the scuba gear doesn't work properly? Does anyone here think that is a problem? Because I think it is a big problem! And there doesn't seem to be any professionals of any kind... just handy men. Is this guy actually a dive master, or has he just done it before?
Lee: That's actually kind of a good point.
Me: I'd rather get certified in Mexico.
Lee: That's scary.

Well, I was not as persuasive as I thought. Two weeks ago he brought home the dive books and said we had our first session that Saturday. Grrr...

Saturday came and it poured rain all day, and it got canceled! Which I totally saw as a sign....

But it got pushed to the next Friday. I knew I wouldn't get lucky two weekends in a row, Mother Nature is not that good... so I had a knot in my stomach all week. I couldn't even read the dive book, because all the nonsense about regulators and valves made me more nervous.

We spent the first day in the salt water pool getting used to the equipment. Our instructor, Lito, was phenomenal. I take back everything I said about unprofessionalism, I couldn't have asked for a better instructor.

I freaked out a little bit every now and then, but nothing I couldn't handle by talking to my crazy self. It helped that there were other people in the class. I am competitive to a fault, so wanting to be the best scuba student helped me get past my neurosis.

When we showed up for day two I figured we would do some more pool drills.... nope. First ocean water dive... 40 feet. Teeerrrific. I was all fine and dandy at the bottom of the nine foot pool, I could come up at any time. This was completely different. We had to walk in to the ocean with all our gear, waves crashing around us... while trying to get masks tight and fins in place. Lee and I were tossed around, and I definitely inhaled some salt water. Luckily, that was the hardest part. We went down to what Lito calls his, "underwater classroom," which is at about 20 feet. After our drills we headed down deeper to about 40 feet. I was so excited that I was actually diving that I kind of forgot about the scary creature part, and mainly concentrated on breathing.

I only had one minor freak out, which involved me not being able to see Lee. He likes to swim behind me so he can keep an eye on me... I'm sure because he knows he'll never hear the end of it if I get lost at the bottom of the ocean. Well, I looked to the left... he wasn't there. I looked to the right, not there. Full circle, still can't see him. It wasn't until I almost got kicked in the face that I realized he was right above me.

By day three we were the only two left in the class, and we did two more dives. The first dive was to 40 feet and the second one was 60 feet. On the second dive we saw a huge sea turtle! The dive master's dive buddy grabbed it and brought it close to us so I could touch it. That is one sea creature that I actually like. We were swarmed by a group of bright blue fish, which was pretty cool and I even saw two clown fish in an anemone. It was just like, "Finding Nemo," which I made Lee watch as soon as we got home.

So we have one more dive and our written test before we are certified. And I think I might actually like this diving business. I guess I can overcome being crazy after all. :)