Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Look at me! I'm a SCUBA diver!

On a sunny day, ripe for productivity, I've chosen to take in the serenity of my back porch while Ophelia attempts to nap. Mostly she's just chatting to her GiGi but she's happy and that's fine with me. Instead of productively writing emails, or productively doing yard work I've decided to present a product of the heart, another entry into my blog. Plus my friend Karen said that I was getting lax in my postings. She accused me of running out of Cabo stories and not finding anything exciting to write about in Minnesota. Not true! I have not run out of Cabo stories. As for Minnesota stories...well...things are getting better and I'm sure stories will be being made now that the sun is shining and the breeze blows warmer. But I think we all realize I've got one foot out the door, and plus the Cabo stories have wayyyyy better pictures.

So here we go on to my SCUBA certification experience. I think I am just going to keep this somewhat short as Ophelia does not seem to want to sleep. I might be cut short. If you've been paying attention. I first began my SCUBA lesson's out at Cabo Pulmo with my instructor Grant and though my time in there was beyond all expectations. My SCUBA action was a little less exhilarating and a little more salt water scrub nasal wash. Not bad but not awesome. I probably needed a good sinus clearing. I must admit after so much skills testing I was really ready to see some fish but truly apprehensive about going under again to embark on my next nasal passage exodus. I dragged my feet a couple of times and came up with some possibly comparable exciting adventure alternatives to doing my first open water dives. But finally in my last week I knew it was do or die time. I was gettin' back in. This time the dive shop is right in the belly of the beast. The beast being spring break 2008 at Medano Beach. Like seriously scary. Full of barely dressed, barely legal, boys and girls smoking mass amounts of cigarettes and downing baleena's (40 ouncers) like its water, with naughty fake tattoo's plastered all over their bodies and taking their clothes off on stage. Nice huh. Don't you want to send your kids to Mexico for Spring Break? No don't worry they don't need a chaperon. They'll be fine. Luckily Spring Break is pretty much confined to about 6 bars on the beach, the main road of Cabo and all of the resorts. Ok there is pretty much no escaping it. I choose to embrace it. Well usually. Not so much when you are standing in your wetsuit waiting for the rest of your boat members to get ready, looking like an old lady TOOL, suffering from a minor anxiety knowing a greater handful of this spring break crew will soon be riding jet ski's right over the top of where I am supposed to be looking at beautiful fish under water. Not to mention the three cruise ships in the bay and the constant glass bottom boats to lovers beach. I keep asking Grant "Are you sure this is safe?" "Oh no." he tells me. Since he's been here he's seen three boats with divers in them capsize. Que??? Are you kidding me??? "That's why I only go out with Manta" he says's, "they're the best". By this time I have full, total, utter and complete trust in Grant. I mean after all I haven't died yet, in fact I've been having lots of fun. If says Manta's the best then so be it. Lets go.

Our first dive is Neptune's finger. If you've been on the glass bottom boat ride you drive right over a bunch of divers while your captain points out the rock that looks like Baja upside down. I was under there. Oops wait now I am looking at my handy dandy log book and it turns out our first dive was at the North Wall. Hmmm there is a space for comments in that little book. I'll have to start filling it in. With all of my vast diving experience all the trips are starting to run into each other. I just can't keep um strait. J/K dudes. Are you ready to hear about the part where I get to see a fish yet?? Yippy! I step off the boat just like you see in the Jacques Cousteau footage all the gear and everything and go in for the first open water dive. And do you know what we saw??? Fish! Immediately upon descent, and on the bottom was a little puffer fish checking out a shrimp. It was soooo cute. He was like "Hey your new here, wanna be my friend" Grant tried to get a picture but all he got was the shrimp digging his head into the sand. Guess he didn't want to be friends.

We saw some goat fish and a parrot fish and then it was back to skills. Damned skills why can't I just clear my mask and not have it fill up again. And this time on my way down I got my first taste of "the squeeze". No it's not when mobsters try to intimidate your small business into giving them all of your money. Its when the pressure in you mask get so strong that it starts to suck out your eyeballs. You just fix it by blowing out your nose and letting some of the pressure out, but sometimes underwater armatures forget what they are supposed to do. I'm sure it looks pretty funny from the other perspective. I know so because Grant told me, "You looked pretty funny, like your eyeballs were about to pop out of your head." Nice instructor nice.
After not exactly mastering all of my skills and still taking in quite a bit of salt water we emerge once again to the surface. Feeling a bit worse for wear, I scramble myself onto the boat. I immediately get motion sick. I never get sea sick but I seriously think I'm going to puke. I'm feeling so sick, I sit quietly and don't even want to talk. I know! That just never happens. I tell Grant. He says "Well at least if you puke under water you'll see lots of fish, cuz the swim over and eat it". Basically, don't be a wussy and get in. Our next dive is at Pelican Rock and he promises, no more skills for the day just looking at fish...and maybe a little buoyancy practice...just a little.

I burp a couple of times, it's weird to burp under water, but everything is weird under water. A couple of burps, I get acclimated and ooooooo now we're talkin' fish. Freaking finally. Lots of fish. Moray eels, parrot fish, grouper, coral, sea urchins, chocolate chip starfish. Really awesome, gorgeous stuff. We spend the whole thirty nine minutes taking in all of the under water life. Now this is what diving is all about. I guess you've got to go through all of that stuff to get to the good stuff. I tell Grant when we exit the water that I am now officially hooked and totally ready to see what the next dive has in store. Ahhhh but wait. Just when you thought you were done. He's got something up his sleeve. MORE SKILLS! A 100 meter swim and a 10 minute safety float, all to be done at Medano Beach. "Medano Beach!", you say, "But isn't that where all the drunk, naked spring breakers are???" Yes indeed it is. I am to finish off my day with a 100 meter swim listening to Akon. And ya know what? I'm ok with that. I love Akon ( I know I can't help it)and swimming is sometimes boring, this was NOT boring. I was far enough away that I didn't see anything too disturbing. And who knows I maybe I'm making all of that stuff up in my head and it's all just good clean fun....Susannah (my niece) still doesn't get to go though I'm sure she's planning her trip already.

A couple of days later we get ready for the morning dive. This time I am psyched. We're diving with Sea Lions at Lands End. There is a large colony of Sea Lions that have perched themselves upon a rock right about 10 feet in front of Lands End which makes a little passage way that the Sea Lions like to play in. We were going to swim through that passage way. I was primed and ready to go. But first, more skills. That's ok, its compass, navigation stuff. I've done orienteering at camp. My buoyancy stuff is fantastic, I got this. Yep, Nope. I kept setting my course too slowly then so concentrated on trying to stay on course I'd kick myself right up to the surface. It was wreaking havoc on my ears and Grant said he only could go up and down one or two more times. We'd better put the compass away and attempt the passageway. How do people know where they are under water anyway. Without the compass I'd be completely lost. But I suck at the navigation so what am I to do? Looks like I better stick with the professionals for a while. We head towards the passage way. There the are Sea Lions. Playing right above us. Grant took some awesome video but unfortunately I couldn't transfer it here. Your just going to have to settle for pictures.

On the other side of the passageway was a little shipwreck where we saw a large school of yellow jack. Just like the ones we saw while kayaking in Cabo Pulmo. I wish I could catch one Mmmmm yummmy... I kinda have to pee. We'd see these tiny strings, floating through the water, Grant explained in under water sign language that they were jelly fish. While we were practicing a remove your regulator skill (breathing apparatus) and find it again skill one stung him on the lip. I realize now that those are the little buggers that sometimes get you at Chileno. I always thought they were chopped up stingy sea weed floating in the ocean, I knew to avoid it but I didn't realize it was tiny jelly' I really gotta pee. Around Lands End we go we saw some other stuff but man, I really gotta pee, I don't think I care about the other stuff. Ok concentrate. Try to pee. But isn't it kinda gross to pee in your wetsuit?? I guess I've heard of people doing it to stay warm but I'm not cold. Should I hold it? We still have a whole 'nother dive to go on. I don't think Jaime's (a different Jaime from the fishing Jaime) boat has a potty for me. I better try to go. But I have to swim, and pretend I care about fish. I can't concentrate. Shit I really gotta pee. Finally. Underwater for 53 minutes. I don't think I often go 53 minutes without peeing, what can I say I'm a well hydrated woman. I still haven't peed. We get to the boat. Grant gets out I daintily explain my situation, minimize it, hang on to the ladder of the boat rocking about in all waves from boat traffic and attempt to pee. I get stage fright. I've got two guys waiting for me, I'm in my wet suit that I'd really rather not pee in, and a ton of boat traffic. After 10 painfully long minutes (at least it felt like ten). I convinced myself I could ignore it and got back in the boat to get ready for the next dive. I could not ignore it! I couldn't even bend down to get my next tank. I was dying. I would do any thing to pee. What the hell is wrong with me??? Did being under water holding it break my bladder? Was I going to burst out the top before I could actually just urinate. Who has trouble peeing? Especially in water? Doesn't everybody pee in the water. Next time we're swimming in a lake together and you go through a warm spot don't look at me, apparently I can't pee under water. Grant can see the pain on my face. I'm not going anywhere till I get this done. We get to Neptune's Finger (for real this time) the water is crazy, boats everywhere, and I've got two guys waiting, waiting, waiting. I try again. Its not working. I'm starting to panic. Ok Anni. Find your Zen spot. Zone it all out. I stepped out of mind and body and somewhere in there I peed...for a really long time. Who has to meditate to pee? Me. I have issues.

We made it down for our grand finale dive. Our best dive yet by far. Lots of fish, we went down to 60 feet and I finally mastered all of my skills. At the surface, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I was an official diver. I didn't get run over by a boat or drunken jet skier, I didn't puke underwater, though I did burp a few times. I peed. I saw fish, lots of them AND I got to swim with Sea Lions. Yup an official diver. That's me. I can't wait to get back out/under there.

I actually went to Under Water World at the MOA with Ophelia and even though we saw lots of fish and a whole ton of sharks, somehow it just wasn't the same. See there's my Minnesota story. Soooo not as good as the Cabo ones. I've almost got them out of my system but if your lucky there are still a few left. And I'm going back to make more so get ready!


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