The ten days in Trujillo felt like two and already I’m off the the next big thing. The Trujillo folks drove me right to the dock, I bought a ticket to the island and I was off. I am now on the Carribean island of Utila, and I have never been anywhere quite like this. The population is (according to my visual surveillance) one third tourists from around the world, one third black people that speak English with a Jamaican accent and one third Latin people speaking Spanish. The culture here confuses me, but I like it.
Today was my first day of school. Scuba school that is! I was super excited and had scoped out schools yesterday so today all I had to do was show up. Turns out it was a lot more like school than I thought. We started with four hours of video covering scuba theory followed by chapter reviews. This was not fun. Apparently it’s necessary for our safety or something.
We took a lunch break and after a bacon cheeseburger and a Imperial down on the dock, we had more class, only this time it was underwater class conducted in sign language. We had a quick lesson on assembling the equipment, I put on my super cute wet suit, my neon green fins, my mask and snorkel and I was ready. Or so I thought.
Turns out I was terrified of Scuba diving. The first time I went under the water, I had a panic attack after, um, about one breath. It was the weirdest thing I had ever experienced. Everyone else managed to stay under. I had to return to the surface about 12 times to catch my breath (my brain couldn’t quite grasp the concept of breathing underwater) and ask more questions of the assistant Scuba instructor who inevitably followed me to the top to give me a small pep talk/tell me it’s normal/encourage me with the tall tells of other wanna be Scuba divers that had conquered their fears. I was near tears with frustration and really (and I mean seriously) thought about forgetting the whole stupid thing. Who wants to see fish anyway?
My pride wouldn’t let me get out of the water though and with that no longer an option, my only choice was to go under the water. I finally was able to join the class and did not freak out again until she made me do the first exercise: fill my mask with water and then empty it underwater. I still didn’t have this breathing thing down and I inhaled so much salt water in my nose and ended up with stingy, burning eyes. I screwed this up twice.
Eventually, and I do mean eventually, my instructor said something along the lines of, “no matter what happens to your mask, your oxygen will still be there. Just keep your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths and try clearing it again.” For some reason that made sense to me. She said even if it’s in your nose it’s okay because you’re not breathing through your nose. Just let it be there. Just remember the number one rule of Scuba: Never stop breathing.
I submerged again and spent the next several hours attending underwater Scuba class with three other people. Something had clicked in my brain. I did not need to resurface everytime I got water in my eyes or nose. I could just breath. I did the next dozen exercises with hardly a hitch and left the water feeling like a champ. Kind of a sissy champ, but a champ none-the-less.
Tomorrow morning, we dive in slighly deeper water and in the afternoon I think we’re going fully in the ocean. I’m excited. And I can’t believe I freaked out like that. I don’t think I have ever been so terrified of anything in my life. I’ve just never been that person. Until today.
I guess I’m conquering a fear that I didn’t know I had. 🙂