I’ve posted recently on my build up and babysteps activity with Scuba Diving. Well, as of the 19th of September 2014, I’m officially a PADI Open Water Diver. After a lifetime of curiousity, coupled with 2 years of uncertainity, added to experience dives in Thailand, Tobago and Venezuela, Colombia was my destination where I completed my first level diving certified stage.
To achieve this, is something I’ve longed to do. And to me, is a big thing. I look back and think maybe I made more out of it than I should, but coming from a town and crowd from the NE of England where such exersions or activies are not encouraged or common, taking a step into Open Water and competing a certificatioin in such a activity is something I’m immensely proud of. It’s funny, because I was more wanting to be in the water and experiencing, rather than learning the theory and logistics. Some might say, thats common for most divers, but given my experience, theory hasn’t phased me but where practical can. I guess thats the sign of slight maturity in travelling and as a person. You become more comfortable and more interested in what you want to see. And in the past 2 years of everything new I have done and experienced, Scuba diving, one of the most daunting tasks to get over, was still one of the most intriguing ones. I’m confident enough now to begin my advanced course which I will do so in Ecuador.
The dives I completed in Santa Marta, Colombia were awesome. I thought I would be beginning my course alone, only to find a couple from Holland and Germany respetivally also to be doing the PADI with me. It was strange. I wanted to book in to my PADI the next day, showing up at Santa Marta Dive & Adventure shop at 5pm, fearing it would be closed for the evening. Andres, a Kevin Cosner lookalike, said we could start that night, with the pool work at his house. I was perplexed at how quick we could get started, and although a little nervous as no time for mental or physical preparation, I told myself as I have done many times, to get into someting straight away, not to wait, is the best. As we think too much and over thinking can lead to misjudgement and an exaggeration of situations. In other terms, more nerves. Saying that, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, given my previous dives a few weeks earlier.
That night we done some pool work, activities and training. We were in the pool for 3.5 hours. Me, Laurens and Alicia. We worked well as a team. Somethings we ech individually had to do again or ask further questions, but the fluidity of the lessons worked well. First stage complete and in 2 days we would be finished.
The next morning was an early start. 7:15 we were up by. The sun hot from the start. I met a fellow traveller, Albert from the USA, who was doing a discovery dive. Me Laurens and Alicia along with Andres, done our 12m x 2 dives in Tayrona Park. The first dive was fine, we were allowed to explore and become comfortable. The visibility was good, and our surroundings were Greek Island like. The water was at a good pace and nice for first time divers. I was fine with the breathing, albeit a bit ovewelmed with the awkward equipment in open water. I enjoyed the dive and impressed by my own confidence. The second diver was a little more technical and constructive, with skills being replicated from the night before.
The second and last day of diving allowed us to go to our maximum of 18m. My problem with diving has always been equialisation, but I knew that, and for me it took a little longer to get me right ear clear and not painful. The first dive of the day was more technical, skills were done and a little bit more challenging, especially at a deeper depth. The visibility was good and this time we were with another instructor and his student, who was Albert, who had decided to use his experience dives towards his PADI. This was a fortunate positions and good for anyone to use that to their advantage. We buddied up in the second dive which was a learning curve, not being with someone who wasn’t an instructor. I kept to his right and we worked well. We glided along walls of coral flled with eels, blowfish and unusual plant species, with many colours around us. We hovered over lengthy sea plants which threatened to tangle us as we manourvered through rocks and formations. The confidence I gained from each dive was really good. I wanted to stay under more and more. I admit my breathing at times and buyoncy needs to be worked on, but that will come.
After the 4th dive and second day, I completed some much despised theory work. I was tired, wired and wanted to celebrate. However, I passed the theory eventually and completed my PADI. Andres was a great teacher, patient and understanding. A funny bloke too! The people I dived with, Laurens, Alicia and Albert, were really cool people. I couldn’t of hoped for a better bunch of backpackers to complete this course with. It’s been 2 years since I wanted to do this, and believe me 2 years of dread but interest. Finally, PADI Open Water, Obtained. I’ll see you in Ecudaor, PADI Advanced..