Last week I was in Puerto Rico, where I had gone to do two days of open water certification dives to complete my scuba certification. I was all set, with my new mask, fins, snorkel, booties, reservations, and a week of vacation ahead of me in the tropics. What could possibly go wrong?
Wrong thing one: pervasive, overwhelming fear. I blogged about this last week— how my pool course had gone awry, or at least felt like it had, leaving me lacking in self confidence about heading back into open water (even though I love love loved it the first time around).
Wrong thing two: pervasive, overwhelming cold virus. Even as I was doubting my nerve to do the open water dives, I was getting sick. And not just scratchy-throat congested sick (which is enough to scotch any dive– if you can clear your ears, you can’t dive); I had a full-on flu-like virus with fever, chills, body aches, headache, wracking cough, and the kind of misery that calls for BED. NOW. 6 days later I’m mostly recovered, but that was a whopper of a virus.
Wrong thing three: pervasive, overwhelmingly bad weather for beginner diving, making at least one day of my proposed dates for certification not possible. Much of this week, there have been surf and wind advisories for the Puerto Rico north and east coasts, with rip currents, 25–30mph winds, 10 foot seas, 10+ foot waves, and low (10 foot max) visibility underwater. In fact, snorkeling excursions around the east coast of the island have been canceled since Wednesday (including ours for today) because of high seas and low visibility. Because of the low vis and big swells, the local scuba place took out only very experienced divers Tuesday. That would not include me.
However, that’s only half of the story. Some very right things happened this week, too.
Right thing one: a boatload of support from you, the Fit is a Feminist Issue blog community. I cannot express how grateful I am for all of you who wrote in with advice, support, encouragement and your own stories of love and fear of the elements (mostly water but some rocks, too…). From scuba instructors to fearful but persistent swimmers, you offered reality checks–yes, it’s normal to be nervous and anxious before OW dives, as well as advice– you are in charge of your dive, and you can pull the plug at any time. And people shared their own stories of facing fears and responding to them in lots of ways. Thank you– it means a lot to me.
Right thing two: arrival of friends Janet, Rachel and Kate for the second half of the vacation. There’s nothing like having friends around to lift a person out of cold- and canceled-plan-induced doldrums. Since Wednesday, we’ve been doing some beaching, walking in the rainforest to a waterfall, and even going on a nighttime kayak tour to see the bioluminescent plankton in a nature reserve. Ample fun has been had.
Right thing three: upcoming opportunities for certification and other diving in near future. I’m headed back to Australia for a work project in August, so if I don’t get certified sooner, I can do it then. I’ll likely do at least one pool session as a refresher and confidence builder. And I’ll schedule in some diving there, both off the coast of Sydney and up on the Great Barrier Reef as well. Must go back to visit those giant clams.