I have always been fascinated by the big blue Ocean. As little girl I was always begging my parents to take me to the beach (we lived in Canberra… so it wasn’t an afternoon activity), after my first assisted dive on the great barrier reef at 15, I knew that this was a sport that I wanted to get into. On a trip to Thailand I contemplated doing my PADI on the island of Koh Tao… but hammocks and banana pancakes seemed to have gotten in the way. That continued to be a pattern for me, it has always been something I wanted to do but haven’t quite had the time or money to justify it. Well, while in Mexico – one of the most beautiful dive spots in the world, I decided to finally make it happen.
What better place than the island of Cozumel? I didn’t just choose this place because of its beauty, I did quite a bit of research first, hours trawling Trip Advisor comments and asking friends and bloggers who I knew were doing the same thing in the region. It came down to two places – Cozumel in Mexico and the Bay Islands on Honduras… as I was heading to Mexico first, it was only logical that I do my PADI in Cozumel.
Next came the hard part of choosing a dive shop, as a backpacker I obviously wanted something affordable, but I had also promised my concerned parents that I would do it with someone with a good reputation for safety. I read through lonely planet, Trip Advisor once again, and contacted my hostel to see who they recommended. One name kept cropping up over and over again – Deep Blue. Feeling that this may just be because of publicity I contacted a bunch of other dive shops as well… Deep Blue was the only one that got back to me that day. Their response was the most detailed and they answered my plethora of questions with good humour that set me at ease. Finally, the price was reasonable for what I was willing to spend. It was a no brainer in the end – Deep Blue was the dive shop for me!
With all PADI courses there are parts that you have to do in a controlled environment. For most places that means you have to do it in a swimming pool as nowhere else can you ensure the conditions will be safe enough. However, in Cozumel there are long stretches along the side of the island where the water is deep enough, clear enough and with little to no current to ensure that the conditions are perfect. This was one of the major draw cards for me – I didn’t particularly feel like diving in a swimming pool, much preferring being in the ocean seeing fish swim past as I learn how to control my buoyancy.
My diving instructor was a gentleman named Paulo, originally from Portugal. He spoke at least 4 languages and was learning german for fun when he was training me. Paulo was one of those people who carries positivity with them and emits relaxation. The perfect attributes for a dive instructor if you ask me! There are very few people that we as human beings show our true selves to – our partners, our families, a couple of really close friends… and our dive instructor. If you aren’t completely yourself with them there is no way you will be able to honestly tell them when you are feeling nervous, or when you are loving something. After the first day of momentary panics and laughter your dive instructor will know you pretty well.
Now diving isn’t for the faint hearted, completing the course is mentally tough. Not just because they give you homework, something I haven’t done since leaving university. Often times you have to give yourself a pep talk – reminding yourself that you are in a controlled environment with a professional, and even if something does go wrong – you are only under 2 metres of water. But fear is a tricky thing and when you are under water and your instructor tells you to pull your mask off for 30 seconds… its hard not to panic.
Saftey was a big focus with my instructor and from what I heard from other divers with Deep Blue. Paulo would make me repeat a task a number of times until he felt as though I had grasped the importance of it. If there was something I struggled with he would show me alternative methods or ways to get myself out of trouble. He also took time to explain the realities of diving to me – how things can go wrong in real life versus the simulations from the course. At no point during the whole course did I feel in danger… any danger was in my own brain.
Preserve though, push through those mental barriers. On the other side it doesn’t seem so scary, in fact you genuinely feel as though you would be able to survive in most diving “disaster” situations, it’s that confidence in the water that makes getting your PADI so worth it… oh and being able to dive in amazing underwater landscapes of course.
After completing my PADI, I now understand how people can become so addicted to it… I am day dreaming of places and locations around the world that I can go diving. Fish, I would love to swim with, coral I can get up and close with… and maybe even some sharks one day! It’s a big world out there and most of it is water!