Learning How to Scuba Dive

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La Paz, Mexico

I like to talk a good game. I seem fearless and confident and I don’t like to let others know otherwise.

So when I snorkeled with beluga whales in Manitoba I talked about learning how to scuba dive but then did nothing about it. I took it up a notch after I did SNUBA diving in Lana’i and said I was really going to do it.

 

And I meant that.

 

I tend to announce things I’m afraid to do because I’m more stubborn than fearful to admit defeat. I’m terrified of heights yet years ago before I went to New Zealand I announced I would bungy jump.

I did and it was completely exhilarating and frightening.

So when the Cortez Club agreed to host me for PADI open water certification it all got a little too real.

I bought my bus ticket to La Paz and got a room at La Concha Beach Club Resort but something was nagging at me. I was scared. I knew I wasn’t going to die or be harmed.

 

It was a fear of failure.

 

mexico resort

Day 1

I met the only other person in my class, Sebastian from Guadalajara. I was happy to hear that they would ease me in by watching three videos, although the focus on safety in the videos made me slightly anxious.

Then we went over course books and finally an overview of the equipment.

Finally it was time for the water, the SNUBA really helped because I was completely comfortable with the regulator. There were only two of us taking the class and it was really nice to have so much individual attention.

I felt like things were going well until I was supposed to take the weight belt off and put it back on, but I let it get away from me and all of a sudden my legs were floating upward and I was upside down.

My instructor Marco helped me by pushing me down and showed me a different way to put it on.

Later on he told me it wasn’t my fault by that I had buoyant thighs, I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not. He was trying to be nice so I let it go, let’s just attribute it to years of playing soccer.

 

La Paz

Day 2

More video work although it seemed like it was just PADI trying to up sell me on buying stuff from them.

We had an unexpected quiz but it turns out I knew more than I thought with only 4 questions wrong – perhaps I won’t die in the open water tomorrow.

 

scuba divers

Day 3

Our first open water day, we headed out to this amazing lighthouse where sea lions were on the rocks, I was nervous to go backwards into the water, remembering when I was in Honduras we met a girl who was so petrified she almost quit the open water course.

To be honest it was a bit startling to go backwards and then be in open water. I had to remember to calm down and breathe and once we went down underwater I was really comfortable.

In the first 5 minutes underwater a sea lion swam by us, it was incredible. Marco said my eyes were as big as the mask but I wasn’t nervous at all.

Marco was always close by and with a group of two I knew if anything happened he would be there. I was much calmer than I thought I would be and didn’t want to come up.

Although I could really do without that test where you take your mask off and on, I’m not scared of it but I hate the salt water in my eyes.

We went to a new location for a second dive but after a few minutes I had a sharp pain in my left sinus. The good thing was I didn’t feel panicked at all, I just signaled to Marco and we headed back up. The only bad thing is that I’ll have more tests tomorrow.

 

scuba diver

Day 4

My final day and despite the problems with my sinuses yesterday I felt calm. Under water Marco kept signalling to remind me to clear my passages but I already knew how to do it.

We swam around looking at the various sea life and everything felt so right, even as the sea lions swam by us.

 

I was really doing this and I loved it.

 

I had to catch up on a few navigation drills I missed yesterday and then we went back to the surface so we could head to a new area.  

At the new location everything felt familiar and comfortable. I trusted Marco and I trusted myself. I felt so much at peace under water, in a way I never feel on land.

Finally we resurfaced and I needed to complete the final tests: to swim a distance, tread water ten minutes along with the final minute with my hands above my head. I grew up taking swimming lessons so this was not a feat at all.

 

scuba divers

On the way back Sebastian and I were finally at ease, he told me he thought I was 26 or 27 at most.

So far this city has been good to me. I’d love to return to scuba with whale sharks in La Paz.

Perhaps I should stay in Mexico?

 

 

Disclosure: I was a guest of La Concha Beach Club Resort and Club Cortez, they did not request that I write a favourable review or delight in making all my friends jealous that I was in the water with sea lions.

 

Join the Conversation

  1. La Paz, Mexico is easily my most favorite place on Earth. I had the most amazing papa rellena in a restaurant there, I wish I could remember the name!!! And the TACOS, OMG. I’m so jealous!!

    1. I had never really heard of it as a tourist destination but I really enjoyed my time there.

  2. Good for you!!! Way to face your fears. 🙂 “Buoyant thighs” – that’s hilarious!! 🙂 Reminds me of a Mexican man I knew that told me I had “thunder thighs.” When I blanched he said, “No! Thunder thighs are GREAT on women!” Maybe we should ALL move to Mexico. 🙂

  3. I got my NAUI certification about ten years ago, and you know how many time I’ve used it? None! Shame on me, I know. I have snorkeled lots but as for diving…

  4. Camels & Chocolate says:

    I never had a desire to dive either–I am TERRIFIED of the ocean (still to this day)–but I was in the Maldives on assignment six years ago and got roped into trying it out. Now, I have my advanced license and am OBSESSED. Glad you overcame your fear!

  5. I LOVE SCUBA!!!! EEEE!

  6. I have to agree with Sebastian, you do not look your age, I would guess the same ages he guessed. Does this mean maybe we can see scuba dive photos of you soon?!

  7. Well done, I think you may have just convinced me to go and get my PADI. Although the treading water for me might be a little difficult as I don’t float very well 🙂

  8. I’m so jealous. I’ve always wanted to learn to SCUBA but haven’t gotten around to it yet! Swimming with sea lions sounds incredible.

  9. crazy sexy fun traveler says:

    I am happy Ayngelina you survived this and in the end everything turned out good! I love underwater world but each time I want to try scuba diving, I get sinusitis … my lifelong problem 🙁
    But hopefully my next time in Mexico I can finally do it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah the one day I hate a pain in my sinus I had to get out right away, fortunately Marco had already warned that if it felt like a nail was being driven through my skull I should let him know.

      1. Ah, the dreaded sinus squeeze! And that is a very accurate description of how it feels! In the future, if you have the issue again, you can sometimes clear a sinus squeeze, the same way as if you are clearing your ears; ascend a few feet, hold your nose and blow gently. If it still doesn’t clear, no worries, maybe next dive. 🙂
        Congrats on getting certified, diving can definitely be addictive! I was afraid at first, but fell in love with it, 5 years later I’m an instructor with over 400 dives! Have fun!

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          I did try to ascend a few feet and go down but I just couldn’t clear it. I cannot believe you have already done 400 dives, I can’t wait for number 3!

  10. Matthew Karsten says:

    Nice! Welcome to the club! 😀

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks, but now I need to get back to the Yucatan!

  11. Tiffany @ theUnimaginedLife says:

    Ugh, I HATE saltwater in my eyes…! Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to move past my fear of open water and join the ranks..until then, I’ll just live vicariously through you 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I kept them closed so tightly I was okay much of the time but a bit of it is inevitable.

  12. Well done! I found it pretty frightening learning to scuba too, especially when they get you to test things like taking your mask off at 10 metres down and sharing a regulator – but it’s totally worth it.

  13. CONGRATS Ayngelina, for facing your fears and conquering it! You must feel overwhelming pride revisiting this memory and experience! =D

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was pretty exhilarating, I have to say Marco was so good I was never really afraid.

  14. Is that Sebastian on the right? I need to go to Guadalajara. Hahaha.

    I really admire you for doing this, hun. I’m terrified of water but would love to see the things that go on underneath. Sadly I don’t think I’ll ever have the confidence to do what you’ve done though. Congrats!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Why yes he is on the right, such a cutie eh!

  15. I love your honesty. I love that you’re open about it and admit it to the world. Scuba diving seems awesome but my fear of deep water kinda gets in the way…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I met a girl in Honduras who didn’t know how to swim well at all and she was able to do it, you would be surprised.

  16. I’ve grown up on a swim team since the age of 4 and never travel anywhere near water without my snorkel gear (I take it on almost all my trips) but for some reason I just don’t have a huge desire to scuba dive. I’d love to explore more but it seems so technical!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I grew up on the ocean so I feel the same way about water and always loved snorkeling. If it hadn’t been for the beluga whales I would have always been content. Surprisingly it’s not that technical, in the beginning to learn some things but the mechanics are quite intuitive.

  17. Sounds brilliant! I love snorkelling, but have only ever tried scuba once, and that was totally untrained with a friend (who is an expert admittedly). Not sure that was the safest idea. Still, awesome work on getting over your trepidation and getting it done 😀

  18. Jonathan Look, Jr. says:

    I am forcing myself to leave Mexico. I promised myself that I wouldn’t stay anywhere for more than 12 months for the next decade and Mexico made me break that promise. Leaving but I know Thailand will be amazing too!

  19. Jade Johnston says:

    I did a one day try dive course which was a great way to get used to the equipment… I really hate it when they make you take out your regulator and then put it back in and blow out the water Freaks me out! Also I think going backwards would be a problem for me as well! Last time I did scuba it was in a marine reserve so we just walked into the water.

  20. I love those age compliments now that I’m in my thirties. 🙂 How deep did you guys scuba?

  21. Awesome that you are brave enough to try new things you are scared of. I only dove one day in the Red Sea. I’d do it again but I think I prefer snorkeling.

  22. That looks like so much fun! Good for you for overcoming your fears! Scuba diving is still on my bucket list!

  23. I too learned how to Scuba dive and I had moments of fear as well. Finishing the course and being able to dive was such an awesome accomplishment! I agree with you a small group is the best situation for learning to dive. There were only two of in my group as well. Congratulations!!

  24. What a beautiful place to learn to SCUBA! It sounds like you had the ideal course with such a small group. This is something I’ve always wanted to do as well – so jealous!

  25. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    I’m a little afraid of doing this. But I’d be willing to try given the opportunity. Seeing sea lions swim by? Sounds like it was totally worth it for you.

  26. Super jealous- that first photo is absolutely beautiful. I haven’t tried SCUBA yet- but really want to. I’ve been a tad afraid of the whole process but maybe I’ll reconsider!

  27. Antoinette B. | love.antoinette says:

    Sea lions and finally trusting yourself in the open water? That’s more than enough accomplisment for four days! Growing up by the beach when I was younger, I’ve always wanted to go scuba diving for as long as I can remember. Then of course we didn’t have any of that scuba gear and lessons and stuff so as little kids, we learned and taught ourselves deep-sea diving, breathing techniques and all. I still love to do that to this day although plenty of people told me how dangerous it actually is.

  28. Love the blues in all your shots! Looks like heaven to me on ALL accounts:D

  29. Cool! Welcome to the club Ayngelina! 🙂

  30. Yeah! So glad you did this, it’s so addictive. Can’t believe you saw a sea lion right at the start. I had to wait about 70 dives before I saw one.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You have had 70 dives? Wow. I’m at 2!

  31. Amazing. I’m am petrified when I’m snorkelling never mind scuba diving. Really cool you put your fears behind you and did it anyway! And sea lions are so freaking cute. 🙂

  32. Leah Travels says:

    I learned to SCUBA in Mexico, too. Although I wasn’t nearly as nervous about it as you were, I did get seasick on the way out. I didn’t ride on that boat for two hours not to dive, so I did it. The experience was amazing, and I puked as soon as my head came back out of the water. Good times, indeed.

  33. Liz | Two Weeks to Travel says:

    Looks pretty incredible! Always something I’ve wanted to try too, will have to get out there and do it.

  34. So glad you enjoyed it! I got certified a few years ago and I was TERRIFIED, but went through with it and loved it. I find scuba diving almost meditative when you’re down there just listening to your own breathing and seeing awesome sea life.

  35. Natalie T. says:

    You go girl! The “buoyant thighs” comment made me laugh aloud. That swim test seems hard. Not sure I’d be able to pass that test, even with taking swimming lessons years ago. Good on you. Maybe I’ll get the courage to do this one day!

  36. That’s awesome, girl. My one regret about living in Costa Rica is not learning to dive. As always, you face all the fears I don’t get around to — so inspiring!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know I wish I had done it earlier in life.

  37. Very cool that you were able to face your fears and do this — and even cooler that you saw a sea lion!

  38. Jeremy Foster says:

    Awesome! I’m a scuba diver myself so I know the quirks associated with it…though I’ve been diving since I was 13 years old! Glad you got to see some awesome stuff!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I wish I had done it earlier as I lived in the Philippines in 1999 and it would have been incredible to dive there. Oh well, you can’t look back!

  39. I’m so glad you finally got to do this. Also, that Sebastian is quite cute…

  40. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    I love diving! I’ve heard about La Paz recently as a dive master friend of mine spends an 8-day camp/dive session there every other year; I already felt like I wanted to go, but now, after reading you, I know I should go there next month! Only trouble : funding… Oh well, I’ll live vicarously through you in the meantime…
    Hope you’ve planned other dives soon!
    Cheers!
    Jul’

  41. Awesome pictures! I am off to Egypt next week and hoping to do my first sea dive intro course. A little nervous at the moment but still hoping to not panic and just get on with things.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is much easier than you think, just take deep breaths!

      1. I did! It wasnt as scary as I thought it would be! Managed to also get some video while I was down there too 😀

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