While a typhoon lashed at the country over Labor Day weekend, a group of six nervous but excited individuals squeezed into unfamiliar neoprene suits and fiddled with strange knobs and hoses. It was the beginning of a long weekend, and we were taking up scuba diving. Finally.
Scuba diving was one of those things that were in my “nice to do” things, but I never really gave it much serious thought until recently. Diving seemed to be too complicated – the equipment too expensive, the wetsuit too tight for my tummy-conscious self, plus I’m not even a good swimmer – but all those stuff got swept away that weekend, and all that was left was the nervous but excited feeling as I strapped on the gear and breathed underwater for the first time. It felt, needless to say, wonderful.
It was all that a great weekend ought to be – a new adventure, good food, good company, cold drinks, and, well, yes, videoke. Add a little competitive spirit during the diving lectures and quizzes, a boo-boo or two during the practical skills tests, and the magical combination whirls into place. Memorable moments:
- Abby refusing to perform the mask removal test in one of the open water dives until all of us have done it first, with instructor Ren pointing to his watch as if to say “Ano ba, anong petsa na?” when she tried to negotiate.
- My butt popping back up to the surface when I tried to skin dive. I could hear the all the laughter even when I was underwater.
- Striking all those crazy poses during the five-consecutive-shots-at-a-time group photos.
- Me-Anne trying to go to deeper waters and Ren hauling her back by the fin.
- Boss Romy running out of air in his tank for the first time in, I don’t know, decades.
- Finally succeeding to skin dive – the secret was fixing my eyes on a fish down below and going for it.
- Bobbing around aimlessly during the first Open Water dive, when buoyancy control was practically nonexistent and somebody kept having to inflate or deflate my BCD for me. Boss Romy said we looked like lost kites fluttering every which way in the air. He also described us as being a “school of fish” – ang laki-laki raw ng dagat, nagsisiksikan kami sa isang lugar. “Buti sana kung pare-pareho ng tingin e,” he further deadpanned. “E iba-iba ng direksyon.” Like I said, neutral buoyancy did not come easily.
Diving, so the cliché goes, opens up a new world for you. This is one of the few times when I wouldn’t mind being a cliché.