Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cheese Never Fails

Will I ever get dive certified? My quest to be a Scuba Diver started years ago while studying abroad in Barbados. I completed the first few dives and was on my second to last dive of the program when things went wrong. The pain I felt that afternoon as I ascended (I was done with the dive!) was something I hope to never experience again. They call it a reverse squeeze and it happens very rarely, but when it does, the pain is excruciating. Needless to say I was deterred from completing the course after the experience. In hindsight, it was ridiculous not to, but four years later I find myself attempting the certification once again and facing all kinds of problems. Thankfully they are not ear related, but it just feels like the underwater environment does not want me certified to explore it!
The last weekend of January, six of us gathered on a Thursday morning to begin our course. Since this was the last weekend before school began we wanted to do a crash course and get certified before our lives became extra busy. Dana, Chris, and AJ live too far from the dive shop so they camped out on my floor for a few nights. We should have known that our group was doomed from the start. The weekend before, the river behind my house had run – something that happens but once a year – so in other words, the weather was bad. There was a cyclone warning, and the sea was rough. We began our paper work but due to poor visibility under water couldn’t do anything else. Friday we did our “closed water” portion of the dive, learning and reviewing all of the necessary skills. Unfortunately the diving ended there, as the next morning the water was still too mucky to see. So we all agreed to come back another weekend to continue the course.
A full month later the crew once again gathered on my floor in preparation for the next mornings’ dive. We made a fantastic taco dinner and then bloated and eager to dive passed out around 9pm, anticipating a 6am wake up for the dive. At 2am we received the first of many calls: There has been a huge earthquake in Chili, tsunami warning is in full effect for the Pacific Islands, get to higher ground before 7am! So much for dive attempt number two! We tried to sleep but were awoken all through the night with text updates, phone calls from the country directors, and from concerned family back home. My brother advised me to go somewhere high and bring my camera! Luckily I live far enough inland that evacuation was not a concern of mine, so I continued my night of pieced together sleeping. I did have some incredible dreams about shark infested tsunami waves and other such horrors that are only cool when they aren’t reality.
In the morning we made omelets and plotted our next move: do we wait it out and try to dive in the afternoon? Will the buses be running since the ferry is not? Should we watch The Wire? We opted out of diving since the water would be too murky, even after the all clear was given around 11am, and watched an episode of The Wire (an amazing show for anyone who has not yet seen it!) Dana was able to catch a bus back to her village, and Chris, AJ, and myself caught a bus in the other direction to meet the new US Ambassador and a host of other Peace Corps for dinner! So the lesson learned is that although diving may not ever happen, good friends and a good dinner will always ease the pain. I am writing this on a Tuesday afternoon and just this morning I scheduled a dive (attempt) for Saturday. The plan is to make grilled cheese sandwiches Friday night, guaranteeing that if all else fails, at least we will have cheese. And cheese never fails.

...note: it's sunday, the dive was cancelled due to "High Winds." I am cursed!

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