After 4 months on Bali I can now write certified diver on my résumé. One could argue that it’s been long overdue, seeing as I’m in the business of promoting diving and to do this I need to know my trade. However, over the past 4 months I’ve seen enough pictures and videos of turtles to know that “slow and steady wins the race” – unless of course the race is getting to Casablanca for one hour Free Flow before all the IDC candidates (and Mark) have drained the place of beer entirely.
For my Open Water course I was accompanied by a friend who was visiting from Denmark, conveniently named Jonas as well. If it wasn’t for the fact that the guy is 12 centimeters shorter than me and our gear bags were labeled with the same name, I’d say this didn’t pose a problem at all. However, when you put on what you think is a short-sleeve wetsuit later turns out to be your friend’s long-sleeve wetsuit, it kinda dawned on us that we needed to do something about this bewilderment. Unfortunately, I was busy cursing the tightness of my wetsuit at the time and came up short in terms of resourcefulness – thus we ended up as Jonas #1 and #2.
Our first day was spent in pool, getting acquainted with gear and water as well as going through the theory needed for us to submerge ourselves into the pool. Apparently, there’re a few more things to diving than putting on a weight belt, jumping in the water and holding your breath. Thanks to the PADI open water video, I can’t even take a shower anymore without hearing the words “breathe continuously” in the back of my head.
On our second day we finished up the last pool sessions before venturing to Sanur beach for our first ocean dive. After the compulsory skills we went adventuring at the ocean bottom. Truth be told, I was more focused on the whole weightlessness experience rather than watching all the fish. Diving is by far the closest I’ll ever get to an outer space experience, with its zero gravity feel in neutral buoyancy, and as such, doing loops and faffing about upside-down was clearly on top of my priority list.
The third day we drove up to Tulamben to dive at the USAT Liberty wreck. Visibility was great so I channeled all my focus towards actually paying attention to all the surrounding life this time around. Safe to say, it was pretty amazing to maneuver around the wreck and watch all its colorful inhabitants.
I’ve always felt like a fish in water, so in my most humble opinion my performance was par excellence and without the slightest bit of problems. Much to my surprise however, Jonas #2 wasn’t quite the water dog I laud myself to be. He was by no means scared of water, but he did feel somewhat uncomfortable at times and some of the skills proved quite the challenge for him. However, he pulled through and his transition from rookie swimmer to full-fledged diver was cool to watch from the sideline. Me getting through my Open Water course with effortless ease is not even close to the accomplishment it was for Jonas #2, who managed to overcome personal barriers by getting through his. So when he asked me if we could further expand on our underwater adventure repertoire, by signing up for the Advanced Open Water Course not even a week later, I was exuberant to say the least!