I grew up in Michigan on Maple Lake and Lake Michigan was only a half hour drive from where I lived. In the summers during grade school, my parents would enroll my brother and I in swim lessons. My dad grew up practically in the ocean, but for some reason my brother and I ended up land lubbers, like my mom.
So, what would possess me to take scuba diving lessons?? With scuba, I thought how hard can it be? Even with out being able to swim so well, with scuba you have a respirator and a bcd (floatation vest).
Well…unlike most people, my first dive was in the Mediterranean jumping from a boat, rather than wading into a pool. Let’s say, it wasn’t so easy–in fact, I nearly panicked my way back out of the water. Especially since once geared up, I had another 50 pounds on me (with the tank and weight belt)–which in my mind equates to going straight down to the bottom and staying there.
The first ten minutes for me were sheer terror, my gut reaction once in the water was clutch onto my instructor Ann, but I thought if I did I would fail the class. It wasn’t until Ann told me we were only in water 6 feet deep that I felt a little foolish–i could almost touch the bottom!
The instruction book says to stay calm and relaxed, which is what I forced myself to do. And it worked. Once I stopped trying to breathe through my nose and trusted the respirator, things got much easier. And being underwater is pretty incredible. Looking at all the different sealife, and being a part of it feels just amazing. I’ve taken 4 dives now, and I prefer the feeling of being underwater to wading at the surface. It’s incredibly serene.
I only have one more dive before I get my PADI certification card. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed. Our stop over in Ustica has been terrific. It’s towards the end of the summer, so it’s a bit quiet, which means I lucked out with private lessons. We are staying in our own bungalow that our dive masters own and run. Our hosts, Paolo and Ann are entertaining and passionate about what they do; diving, eating and drinking. They have their own cook that has made our evenings very special. And we’ve made several new friends here.
Tomorrow we leave the island, back to Palermo for a night then we take a ferry to Stromboli island, to climb a volcano and see lava flow.
!photos to follow