Alex and I are planning the land portion of our next trip, which began as a week-long boat diving trip in southern Thailand… and now we’re looking into expanding it to have time for elephants and ziplines and temples and shopping and beaches, oh my! Our most recent diving experience was our August trip to St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Kitts–which was also our first boat trip and our first ocean diving experience. Sure beats diving in muddy Texas lakes, let me tell you!
So I’ve had scuba on the mind lately, and I’ve also been filling my breaks from dissertationing and trip planning with wondrous webcomic reading, and it all kind of mashed up in my head and came out as this illustration of all my dive gear. Alex, who is both my best buddy and my dive buddy (everybody say “awwww”), helped me remember things like yes, my snorkel goes on my left side, and hey don’t I need a compass? …and also pointed out that I spelled “buoyancy” incorrectly, but it’s in pen and I haven’t updated Photoshop on this laptop yet and… sigh, whatever. My wetsuit isn’t actually purple (though my dive skin does have a purple stripe), but so much of my gear is black that I wanted to make it easier to see. My fins, however, really are white and pink. Hee.
Scuba diving is AWESOME. I’ve always been a big swimmer, but what I love isn’t really the activity of swimming so much as I love being underwater. I don’t do that formal breaststroke / backstroke / whatever that “grownups” do, I submerge completely, push off the side of the pool and shoot out as far as I can, until I quit coasting. Then I use the “froggy stroke” and attempt to remain underwater as long as possible. Because, really, it’s the weightlessness and liquid surroundings and the light-dancing-on-the-bottom of the pool that I like about swimming. I probably look like a complete idiot to those watching from dry land, but who cares?
I was leery of scuba diving for awhile, even after Alex got into it a few years ago. It wasn’t the water that was the problem, it was that a) it’s ridicu
lously expensive at first, and b) I had watched one too many Jacques Cousteau specials where one of his compadres got THE BENDS (always announced in all caps) and had to suffer being stuffed into a tube for hours… and afterward I was never really clear on what happened to those dudes. Did they live in the tube forever? Did they explode? Did they shrink into tiny French marine scientists that had to be transported around in Jacques’s pocket?
Taking the academic part of the basic diving course went a long way toward allaying my fear. Turns out that if you get training, you use common sense, you don’t push limits, you use modern equipment, and you’re not planning to dive thousands of feet into The Deep Black seeking a giant squid, you’re probably going to be okay. And honestly, with the sinus issues that Alex & I have, turns out we’d rather not do much deep diving anyway–the pressure’s a bit too much for us to be comfortable at 70 feet or less, and really we’d rather we well above 60 feet most of the time.
It’s definitely expensive to begin with, unfortunately. But I’m so glad Alex talked me into it, because I finally get to see a much larger, more colorful underwater world, one that includes my favorite animals of all time: rays (sorry unicorns). And that’s pretty danged awesome.