This past weekend, I had the opportunity to try SCUBA diving for the first time! To be honest, I was very anxious and nervous at first once I realized I was actually going through with it. I woke up early on Sunday morning around 7:30am and got ready for the trip. I was told to just bring a towel and bathing suit. I met my friend at one of the hotels where the SCUBA dive office was located. The instructor introduced himself to me and took me through an ‘introduction course’, where he told me all the basics about each piece of equipment and how things worked. Then he told me how to clear water from my mask if I was deep underwater, without having to go up to the surface. He also taught me how to retrieve my mouthpiece if by chance it was knocked out from my mouth. I learned a lot of new things and it was slightly overwhelming, but my friend reassured me that once I got into the water it would all make sense.
We took a small boat to a nearby island and got into about 6 feet of shallow water, where I practiced everything that I was taught by the instructor. He was very patient with me and took time to make sure that I knew exactly what I was doing, and that I was comfortable with everything I was doing. Finally, once the training was over, we started making our way out into the water. I was overwhelmed at first because it’s a weird feeling being able to breathe underwater. But after a few minutes of regulating my breathing, it felt natural and I wasn’t scared anymore. I thought I would feel claustrophobic and nervous, being underwater and exposed, but I was surprisingly calm. We went out around 10:45am, so the sun was shining and the water was bright, clear, and calm that morning. My instructor had a little Etch-a-Sketch device that he could write on underwater, so every time we came upon something cool, he would write the name of the organism and show me. I got to hold a huge sea cucumber. There was even a little fish that let us hold him. If I can remember the name correctly, it was a spotted trunkfish (see image below). I saw all kinds of colorful fish and coral, and huge groups of lobsters. I also saw a huge puffer fish hiding inside coral. My friend brought his GoPro camera and he said he was going to make a video for me of “my first dive” with all the footage and photos. At one point, we came to a clearing, and as far as I could see, there were grass-like plants everywhere. It looked like a giant field in a meadow somewhere. It was beautiful because the sun was shining down and everything was so peaceful and quiet. We saw lots of moray eels and something called spaghetti worms. There were huge pieces of beautifully colored fan-shaped coral. I was beyond amazed at what was beneath the surface of the water. It’s a whole different world down there and I felt so blessed to be apart of it for a few short moments!
We were only under the water for about 45 minutes because it was a beginner session, but it was one of the most amazing 45 minutes of my life. The deepest we went down was about 30 feet (I had a pressure gauge and depth gauge attached to my tank, so I was able to see how deep we were). I wish I could have spent more time under the water, and I don’t know why it’s taken me THIS long to try it since I’ve been living here for almost 2 years. I highly recommend to anyone just to try it one time in your life if you have the opportunity to. You will see and experience things that you have never seen before, and it will stick with you forever. A few days later after the dive, I still feel like I’m on cloud nine from the whole experience! My time here on the island is coming to an end, but I am so thankful I was able to experience this before I left.