Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dive Right Out

I have been waiting months for last Saturday to happen and it finally did! And then we did it!!

My older son, Ross, was born on Lincoln's birthday, February 12th, and my younger one, Trevor, was born on Washington's birthday, February 22nd. At a loss for special birthday gifts and strapped for cash, I happened upon a deal through Living Social deals. I purchased a certificate for each of my boys to use, and then one for me too. 

Then I broke my ankle and thought, 'Oh great! Now I won't be able to use my certificate before the expiration date.' We all anxiously waited to see how fast I could recover and finally, in despair, I offered my certificate to my daughter to go in my place. She really didn't want to take my place but she wanted to try it. Then, three weeks ago, like an omen, another deal became available, this one through Groupon, and I began to feel like I might be able to do it, so I jumped on it. Now, we had four certificates, so we could go as a family. FUN!!

What is IT, you ask?  SCUBA diving lessons!! We each now had a certificate for a Try Scuba Diving lesson. However, the expiration was in July for three of the certificates so we had to use them quickly or lose them.

I went to sign us all up and asked if there would be any problems with my ankle being the way it was after my recent surgery. They told me that if I answered yes to anything on the medical questionaire they would not allow me to participate but that it was up to me. I thought about it and decided that 'no, I didn't have any problems walking (more or less)' and 'no, I did not have any complications from recent, or otherwise, surgery.' Other than that, my family has no medical problems, so it was a go.

We met up for lunch last Saturday, along with my mom who was in town, at Pappadeaux, for some seafood. What else?
Things got kind of silly from our nervous anticipation.

We headed over to the New Mexico Scuba Center for our 2:30PM lesson.
Two other people signed up for the class but one was a "no show" so it felt like a prvate lesson as we were four of the five students present. AND my mom was there too, whom I want to thank for taking the photos while I was in the water.
We watched a film on Scuba Diving risks and safety and then the teacher demonstrated how to use the equipment.  
Next, we tried on wet suits. How cool is that?

It was time to head for the pool. Yes, this was only a baby session to be held at a swimming pool but still, we were all very excited!
As newbies, we didn't have to do much in preparation.  Stacy, the shop owner, and our teacher, Dave, readied and checked all the equipment for us.

Then it was time to get wet. We began with a short snorkeling lesson. I did all right but never was able to go fully underwater like my daughter, who did flips with ease.

Several years ago, my husband and I flew to the Cayman Islands for five glorious days of company meetings and holiday. My husband had won the trip as high producing salesman just before he was laid off- figure that one out! The local sales division closed down as part of a corporate reorganization. So, my unemployed husband and I went with the company anyway and had a grand old time with other division sales managers, reps of the company, and customers who had won the trip, including three couples my husband had personally worked with and helped to get the trip for. There must have been sixty of us all together from the company. As part of the trip package, we had a choice of several outings:
  1. Bus tour around Grand Cayman, including going to a rum factory and to Hell and back
  2. Snorkeling in Stingray City where the name says it all- you get to swim with and feed stingrays
  3. Take a submarine down 100 feet over the abyss
  4. Play a round of golf
  5. Go scuba diving
  6. Go deep sea fishing
We decided to do #3 together. I didn't much care for golf or fishing, although he would have enjoyed them both. As a matter of fact, he did go deep sea fishing with the company president and several other men and found it rather boring. They didn't catch anything and several of the people were either drinking or hungover from the previous evening's festivites. At this time, my husband had recently given up drinking so he didn't appreciate being in their company much. Anyway, snorkeling and scuba diving didn't appeal to my husband because he didn't like to go swimming. And, we didn't think we'd get much out of the scuba since we didn't know how beforehand.

The Atlantis submarine ride was awesome! We saw sea turtles and lots of huge fish. At 100 feet underwater, our lips and fingernails turned a strange shade of green. I was slightly hungover from too many Cayman Mamas the night before and worried about tossing my cookies amongst the 40 passengers. Thankfully, I maintained proper decorum.

While in Cayman, I went snorkeling from the hotel beach. The guy renting the equipment told me that there are two main rules for snorkeling:
  1. go with a buddy.
  2. never take your mask off.
Unfortunately, I didn't follow either rule. My husband stayed on the beach while I paddled around by myself. I enjoyed the enchanting view of the underwater world from my mask and soon discovered myself near the buoys several hundred yards out from shore. I panicked. I realized that I was near the point where the water pulls away from shore rather than towards shore. Cayman is surrounded by an underwater shelf and a 3,000 foot abyss. I worried about going over that. I pulled my mask off as I came up out of the water. I swallowed a mouthful of sea water, choked and took in more. Suddenly, I was in panic mode and I knew that I could easily drown before anyone would get to me.

I calmed myself down, thinking that it was all up to me to save myself. I put my mask and mouthpiece back on, ducked my head under the water, and began paddling towards shore, calmly and steadily, breathing as regularly as I could. When I got to shore, I told my husband what happened and he said there was a point where he considered getting a banana boat to come rescue me. I did go snorkeling the next morning- it was a 24 hour rental- only I never went further than six to ten feet from shore. I guess it's that perverse "gotta get back on the horse" mentality. However,I was thrilled to see a large stingray swim right underneath me. My husband, on shore, never saw a thing. Crazy.

While having dinner our final evening, at the Grand Old House, a restaurant with a fantastic seaside view, we watched some scuba divers make a night dive. Several hundred yards out, we could see their lights in the clear darkness of the night waters as we enjoyed eating conch appetisers, roast chicken and prime rib with all the other members of our entourage. It was a spectacular evening. And I was intrigued with the Scuba divers.

I'm in the pink snorkeling fins. Everyone else wore the wet suit boots with their fins. Why? because I'm so special! (I think Stacey did it to help out with my ankle.) I also had a brown and black wet suit while everyone else had blue and black. It sure was hard to tell who's who under the water without my glasses with everyone looking the same.

Maybe because of my Cayman scare, I experienced some mini panic attacks when I first tried to breathe underwater. I worried about having enough air to breathe and then I realized that I could. The instructor had told us not to hold our breath and to breathe normally and regularly.

During the lesson, I made myself work through my fears and soon found myself exploring the bottom of the pool along with the other divers. We swam around and around, playing with a torpedo toy and getting acquainted with the breathing regulators and balast, inflating to go up and deflating to go down. It was great! We finally called it quits when our fingers were pruned and, in spite of the wet suits, began to get cold- well, I was anyway, around 7:00PM.

We all had a great time and decided we wanted to become certified divers. I don't know if it will happen but I'd be game. The Open Water classes run for about a month and then they camp out at one of two New Mexico lakes (Blue Hole or Bottomless Lakes)  for the certification testing. There are several dive shops in Albuquerque and nearby cities and they all take a couple of diving trips each year to explore exotic places. I guess the only problem is that I lack both time and money for those trips. Otherwise, the certification is good forever. Hmmmm, gotta think about that for a while.

Yes, my ankle did hurt while I swam and kicked about and it swelled considerably afterwards. But then, it still swells every day and it's still very stiff in the joint. I'm just learning to live with it and I am making small progress. It gets a little easier to walk and flex all the time.

What a great day!!

Dive Right Out - Sacrifice Yourself, artist: Tin Machine, album: Tin Machine


Mikey said...

You do the most interesting things, you and your neighbor too :) Very cool post, although I am not a swimming type person, it was interesting! The restaurant, I've always wanted to go there, now I guess I should.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I've never had an interest in SCUBA, even though a week spent in Antigua for our honeymoon, which included snorkeling through the reefs every day was so much fun!

I'm glad you were able to do this beginner lesson, and with your kids, too. The pics turned out great!


Cheyenne said...

I have to say that you are not boring!! Not at all!........Never too old to do new things.

Tammy said...

How cool is that!?!?!? I have always wanted to scuba dive. I am so glad you did AND glad it turned out to be a family affair. What a good day for you.

Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Good for you. Betty and I have snorkled several times in Hawaii and I got to snorkle once in Cuba while in the Navy. It's a lot of fun.


Breathe said...

Woo, hoo, that is now on the list! :)