After years of awe at the magnificence that is the beautiful ocean, coupled with a fear of what might be lurking in there preventing me from jumping in and enjoying the great pool, I finally lady-sacked up and completed my PADI Open Water scuba dive certification. Yup. Jess Hooper donned a mask and air tank, rolled backward off of a boat into the Indian Ocean and explored. Who the fuck is this person?! I like her better than the scared version of Hoop (Jess) who would hold her best friends hand, dip in a toe and run away as if there was a shark waiting right there at the end of her leg.
The confined dive in the shallows of Hikkaduwa Beach got me excited and hungry for a deeper dive. Breathing under water is so strange but so beautiful and had me chuckling to myself as I felt like a cross between a very awkward little mermaid and Darth Vader combined. The following day, I finally got into deeper water and boy, did I suck at diving.
Dive #1. “You kick your legs sort of like you’re riding a bike”. Well shit. I have a couple of friends who will love this as me on a bike of any kind is a logistical fail of epic proportions. “It’s okay, we can work on it, it will get better”. The instructor Erin was a legend and just what I needed, the perfect combination of professional and calmingly casual. I couldn’t have asked for a better leader when it comes to learning how to literally jump out of my comfort zone and into the deep end. I semi-lost my buddy Nimantha but later found out he was holding my tank and guiding me along because the frog legs were getting me nowhere. Try, try and try again right?
Dive #2 was ever so slightly more successful and I almost had the leg coordination and not freaking out that I’m under water down. New mountain to climb…don’t over inflate your Buoyancy Control Device and float towards the surface like a derp. Grace never was my forte.
Dives #3 and 4 were so much better and I think (am almost sure anyway) that I had the legs, buoyancy and calm down. I loved it! It really is a whole other world down there, an indescribable world of peace, quiet, marine life, beautiful rock formations and conquered fears. I faced another scaredy too and jumped off the boat and swam on the surface. I won’t lie and say I was ready and willing, I had to pee and in the ocean is much better than in a wet-suit on a boat in fear of somebody seeing me pee in the ocean. After that first one, swimming became glorious, truly glorious and free compared to wearing the weight of equipment. Being asked to get back in the boat so we could set off filled me with pride that not only was I in there bobbing around, I was enjoying myself.
I can’t wait to get back out there and explore more of the sea bed, Walt Disney’s’ “Under The Sea” rolling around in my head and am so grateful to be in picturesque Sri Lanka to keep practicing and experience more.
To the Poseidon Dive Station team, you’re the tits*. Truly great at what you do, awesome humans, professional and the best people to have started this underwater journey with. Thank you and I’ll forever have a place in my heart for the people who made me feel at ease in natures wonder – and on a high powered speed boat 😉
*This has caused confusion before so to clarify; just as breasts are beautiful, functional, great fun and lovely overall, people who are ‘the tits’ are all of the above and more.