Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My First Time Scuba Diving

With all the incredible seas and oceans visited, scuba diving had been on my mind for a while.  It just so happened that my host's roommate(also on couch surfing) works as a diving instructor for the Blue Lagoon.  The Blue Lagoon is a top notch diving center for French visitors coming to Hurghada.  Lil(name changed for confidentiality purposes) told me about her amazing experiences and also conveyed such a passion about diving and her company. She sold me on choosing her company, but most of all she sold me on diving my first time with her.  It was time for me to face my fear and I knew being with her would make me feel welcomed, safe, and comfortable.   

The whole day could not have went better-really it was pretty much "perfect."   We started off at the Blue Lagoon  where Lil and I were rushing to get there.  We were suppose to be on the boat at 8:30, but we had left the house at 8:30.   When we arrived, the staff were so friendly and helped me get my gear together. We hopped on the boat and I was introduced to my other second dive instructor-Yasir.  He has been diving for the past thirty years and Lil brags for him about how amazing he is. 

On the boat, there are a bunch of adorable, older French wearing their speedos and relaxing on the top of the boat-sleeping and sunbathing.  Again, super nice and welcoming and most did not even notice that I was not French-go figure Priscilla the chameleon.  The boat itself is super clean and luxurious and I am very happy with my choice.  The videographer, the Captain, Lil, Yasir, and myself all sit down in the cabin area getting acquainted. 
Lil gives me my briefing how how to breath, what to do and what not to do, and how to communicate under water.  I am feeling anxious, but she calms down my anxiety with her positive attitude and sweet nature-can you tell that I just adore her?
Most of the diving sites in Hurgada are about 1-2 hours out in the Red Sea located near the many islands. The boat stops for our first dive where I decide to warm up snorkeling.  The water is a light turquoise sea green with the coral clearly visible from the boat.  Getting adjusted with the snorkel mask and breathing took some starting up, but eventually I was able to stay under water and enjoy the coral and fish.  I really thought that I would just be seeing a few fish and some coral, but WOW, WOW, WOW.  There were schools of all kinds of different fish, colors, hott pink coral, and multi-colored fish blue, pink, orange, green of various neon shades.  It could not even compare to my snorkeling in Hawaii-this was completely amazing.  Just snorkeling around, I was thinking to myself, "Um if this snorkeling I can not even imagine the scuba diving."

Being so consumed by the breathtaking underwater beauty, I came above water and realized I was so far away from the boat.  From a distance, I see waiving hands from the boat next to ours telling me to come in.  I quickly swimmed over(surprised by how fast I moved because I am really not a good swimmer).  Lil was waiting for me and told me and Hamed, the captain, place the oxygen tank on my back, set up the rest of my gear, and gave me a push back in the water. 

Our original plan was to practice above water, but before I knew it we were counting and within seconds I was working my way down beneath the water-meter by meter.  Lil was holding on to me and signing to make sure I was okay every minute.  She kept smiling and I just sat in my mask with a very serious face focused on my breathing. I was so worried that if I laughed or even smiled I would mess up my breathing.  The other instructor and my Egyptian friends were smiling at me and patting me on the back.  Under the water, there was an old, abandoned ship, schools of fish on my right side and my left side, sting rays, and all types of coral and fauna.  I had my arms out to the side free falling and just kept thinking about what Lil said, "Just relax and think you are like a mermaid." And so that is what I did think of myself like a mermaid just gracefully moving my legs and letting my arms just flow with my body.  Twenty five minutes later and I was up above the water. I did it! My First dive! Yasir and Lil were so proud of me and off we went to the second dive location for dive number 2. 

Dive number 2 was even better than the first because I learned that it is okay to laugh and smile underwater without dying. The second dive was with Yesir and he took me deep under 10 meters! We went all the way to the bottom where I sat in yoga position and it all felt so peaceful.  He held my hand and pointed out fish hidden underneath the coral.  Like a little child, I just kept pointing at what I was seeing and just amazed for every minute.   I wish I could have a better description of the types of fish, but even my diving instructors do not know-it is just something you have to experience in your life.  He let me be free just swimming around on my own while turning back to give the "A-okay" sign. 

Being under water, it is so freeing. Here I thought I would be panicking not able to breath and guess what they have invented an amazing system to breath underwater ha! This French guy who invented it is one smart guy!
After our dive we had an amazing lunch, fresh melon, more snorkeling, Hamed and I went to the front of the boat taking silly pictures and doing titantic moves, and I left feeling so content with my experience.  Yasir liked me so much he said I can come back with him Saturday and for some free diving, but I did not want to "rock the boat" with Lil and her job.  I faced my fear and it felt so good-I am very proud of myself!

Thank you to amazing staff at Blue Lagoon- you are the best and I love the French!

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