SCUBA Lessons

The soft voice droned on. "Using skills you acquire during this course, you can visit new places, make new friends and experience great feelings!" A suitably dull video of coral and blandly attractive divers accompanied the dreary narration. It was hot. Not unbearable, but certainly uncomfortable. Despite the windows flung open, no breeze could be coaxed in. Between the size of the small second floor room and the vapid training video, the dive coursework was doing its best to induce sleep. 

Arriving the previous day via boat, his first discovery was that the provided accommodations were less than ideal. Hot, loud during the day and even louder at night, the first order of business was a search for new lodging. He would sleep better in the woods than in a noisy dorm. The island was traditionally a dive island, but in recent years had attracted a sizable party crowd, to the point where the infrastructure was at its limit. Good for business, but bad for the weary traveler looking to rest. Thankfully the dollar is still strong in that part of the world and within a day an excellent hotel had been found, although by that time it was too late to salvage any sleep for the first day of SCUBA training. Which was allowable from the perspective of safety, as there was no actual diving during the first day- but passing out during training was inadvisable. Thankfully there were breaks where the group transitioned from video watching to booklet reading. A minor, but significant, improvement. In the end he managed to stay awake.

Like all things, the day eventually ended. The next day was his first day in the water.

Photo by Ryan Bourgaize

In the months running up to the island visit, he had been experiencing some claustrophobia. This was rather unusual for him, as his college hobbies had included exploring small spaces at some length. But there it was. Although he was strong enough to put it into the back of his mind in most cases, the thought of having an attack underwater gave him pause. One cannot simply surface from the deep without stopping to decompress, for fear of excess nitrogen invading their blood. But fear is the mind killer and that was no reason to stop. They boarded a small boat to transit to their larger dive vessel, where they briefed and moved to the dive site.  The tension built. First, a swim test. Then snorkeling practice. A break before putting the gear together. Finally, after the requisite checks were complete and the signal was given, he dropped into the water, set his equipment to 'float' and took his first breath. It was good. In fact, it was...great!

Photo by Ryan Bourgaize

Friendly Thai 'boat boy'.

He found diving to be a lot of fun, the right combination of technology and raw adventure. The instructors and guides were a bit tight-assed, but he didn't blame them, given their apparent responsibility for his safety. His group swam around for over an hour at minimal depth, stopping periodically to skills while sitting on the bottom. Before he knew it, an hour had passed and they were heading back to the ship for a snack. 

"Damn, that was pretty fun." He thought, wondering if he'd continue to do it back home.

And so the days went, going deeper and farther each time. He had fun and met some good people along the way. He even saw a sea snake. Perhaps the most venomous creature on the planet, it is amusingly docile- in addition to its jaw being too small to bite just about any part of ones body. The mysteries of the deep are even better up close. There are more people shots from his film camera here. Scroll down and you'll see them. 

Soon enough, his dives were over and it was time to leave. Perhaps he'll go back some day.

The photographer who took the shots of me above. I'm not sure if he's flipping me off or just poor timing