SCUBA Anyone?

The week of February 25th finds me in Honduras on a week long SCUBA diving trip with DH.  After the rather hellish fall season of 2011, I’m ready for something fun that will serve as an antidepressant.  A week of sun and surf, and exploring new creatures under the sea was just the medicine I needed, although the sixteen year old didn’t share this view.

“Why don’t I get to go?”  He asked.  A fair question, considering he’s the one that’s been accompanying DH for the last two years, rather than me.

I shrugged, unapologetically, but not without some sympathy.  “You have school, and you just spent twelve days in Indonesia on an amazing diving trip!  It’s my turn.”

He’s hooked, and I can’t blame him.  But darling that he is he smiled, hugged me and wished me an excellent time.

As with all trips that I undertake, there have been challenges.  Schleprock peeked his head out on the evening of the 24th with a phone call from the airline.  It was one of those automated things that said, “We are calling in regards to your cancelled flight…”  I waited with mounting fear, then there was a dial tone. The nerve!  More information please!

I tossed the message to DH with a look of confusion.  “What cancelled flight?”  He didn’t seem surprised.  Living in the small town that we do, planes sometimes get diverted to other cities, or just never make it here, and the flights are cancelled.  No bother (wait, did I just say NO BOTHER?), he dials the number to the airline and has them book us on another flight leaving an hour later than the original, but from another airport a little over an hour away.  This makes our wake up time 3:45 AM.  Grrrr.

So the next morning off we go.  It wasn’t until we were walking into the airport when DH turns to look at me with a horrified look on his face.  “What?” I ask feeling alarm bells go off.

“How are we going to get home?  Our return flight wasn’t changed–we are still flying into the other airport!”

I shrugged, determined to not let this be a big deal.  “We’ll have to get a cab home, then drive back and pick up the car.”

That problem solved, we face the next issue–15 minutes in Atlanta to change planes.  The lady at the check-in counter is confident we’ll make it.  I’m thinking she must have come to work after a bender without sobering up.

Miraculously, we come in only four gates away.  Even so, we were still the LAST people on the plane.  But I’m thinking it’s a bit like hand grenades.  It doesn’t matter how close it was, just that you made it.

Three and a half hours later we are touching down at 12:30 in Roatan, Honduras, where it is a balmy 82 degrees.  I can feel my heart lighten as I step off the plane into the warm air.

Nora, from Coco View Resort where we stayed greets us with a friendly smile and a handshake.  We run our carry-ons through the x-ray machine, then wait for the luggage.  Once we identify the luggage, we wait outside for a bus while the Coco View staff brings up the rear with luggage in tow.  The bus arrives, and the group boards.  We are at Coco View water taxi’s in about 15 minutes, and at the resort itself in another 5.

We have lunch in the dining room–cafeteria style.  Don’t let this put you off.  The food is rather amazing, especially for the large quantities they make. We have joined a larger group that has been here a week already, and catch up with everything that has been going on.  It was then we learn that some of the other people on the cancelled flight didn’t make it.  I’m feeling the winds of good fortune blowing that caribbean air around.  After lunch, we opt for a shore dive instead of going out on the boat.  That way the late comers can join us after they arrive.

Now, it has been in fact, 9 years since I’ve been SCUBA diving.  Kids, illness, sports and life in general have kept me from something I learned to do when I was in my mid twenties.  I’m now 48.  Yikes!  I have new gear (let’s face it, there have been some improvements since the early 90’s), and a new wetsuit.  Let me just say, I was an entertaining spectacle for the guests of Coco View on the first day.

The great thing about this resort is it’s layout.  It is made for divers–divers heaven really.  Everybody gets a cubby to store their gear.  The air tanks are here and the wash tanks are here, so that when you come back you can just dunk everything in the freshwater tanks to clean them.  There is a separate tank for photo equipment as well.

Wetsuit, check.  BC, check.  Regulator, check.  Mask, fins, hair tie and weights, check.  We waddle to the shore and start walking out to sea.  DH is ahead of me.  He looks back occasionally to see that I’m still behind him.  When we get to the dock, the water is chest high.  We put our fins on, bring out masks down, and he takes off.  I submerge, and my mask floods.  I stand up to adjust it, but it slips on my hair.  I submerge again and try to swim and roll over on my back.  I try to right myself, but my tank hits me in the rear end because it has slipped out of the strap holding it to my BC.  I stand up and look around, DH nowhere to be seen.  I submerge and look underwater, and am looking at nothing but ocean life.  My dive buddy has left me.  I try yelling for him, attracting the attention of everyone around, including the dive master of the group we are with who is standing on shore.  I bang on my tank, which might have been effective had I something other than my knuckles to rap on it with.  I surface again.  I am completely alone.  I stand there waiting.  I say a few untoward things I’m sure no one else can hear about desertion and the point of a dive buddy.  I didn’t think it was that loud, but sound apparently carries very well over the water.

I try to take off my BC, but I can’t.  So I just stand there and wait.  Finally, DH comes swimming back and says, “What happened to you?”

GRRRRRR!!!!!

We fix my tank, and proceed to about 30 feet.  I have trouble equalizing.  I have trouble staying in any position.  My regulator  won’t let me draw air in without great difficulty.  I roll all over the place, and finally give up, working so hard to get back to shallow ground that I’m breathing like I just sprinted 5 miles, and all I can think is, “Wow, I don’t remember it being this hard the last time, even if it was nine years ago.”

I come in thoroughly depressed.  DH takes a lot of ribbing for leaving his dive buddy in such a suffering state.  The dive master comes up to me and tells me we’ll get it right the next day, and I go to bed thinking, “What have I got myself in to?”  Surely the next day has to be better.

The next morning is a boat dive.  I look out over the expanse of water, and see a lot of white caps.  Hmmmm….white caps are usually not an indication of a smooth ride.  I get into my bathing suit and wet suit, and we walk to the boat where our gear has already been loaded on for us.  We have the pre-dive meeting of what reef we’ll be going to and the general plan of descent and then take off.

It’s a short ride out, maybe 7 minutes.  I sit down to my tank and get into my BC, put my fins on and stand up, lurching like a drunken sailor.  The swells are maybe 4-5 feet and all I can think is, Hurry, HURRY, HURRY!!  Into the water before I puke!  I jump in, and have trouble getting below the surface, where I’m tossed about in the surge.  I turn head over heels and swim down to calmer waters where I then try to deal with the buoyancy issues I seem to be having.  It was a shallow dive, maybe 40 feet and I never really got comfortable.  And, I felt slightly sick which is very unsettling under water.  When the dive was over (and I can’t tell you what we saw, because I was too preoccupied with equipment issues) I swam to the bottom of the boat and climbed in from the center well.  I knew it was bad before I even got off the steps.  I had the same feeling when I did my Advanced certification–a feeling like I couldn’t get my gear off and get to the back of the boat quick enough.  I plopped down on the back and thought maybe I had averted it.  But no, up my breakfast came, not once, not twice, but four times.  I didn’t think I’d eaten that much.

So far, not a great start.  I took the boat back in and skipped the drop off at the wall that allows you to swim from the coral reef in front of the hotel to the beach.  After the boat docked, I took care of my gear, and took a half a dramamine.  The reason of which is, the last time I got sea sick and took a whole one, I was unconscious for like, 24 hours.  It doesn’t really stop you being sea sick, it just knocks you out so you don’t KNOW you’re sea sick.  As it was, the 1/2 put me out for the rest of the afternoon.  I awoke to a beautiful sky.  DH came in and we talked.

“Feel better?”

“Yes.  But my ears and sinuses are stopped up.”

“We have meds for that.”

“Thank God,” I said, unhappy about the results of my peaceful getaway thus far.

“There is a buoyancy clinic on Monday.  I think you should go.”

“So do I,” I said, not at all offended.  I knew he really wanted me to have a good time, and he was great at problem solving, which was a lucky thing because there were lots of little problems to be solved.  We ate dinner and talked with the rest of the group for some time, some of whom were also seasick.  I could only hope that it would get better with the passing days.  And with that thought we went to bed with the sound of the ocean gently washing up under our floor.

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