As a big swimmer and more importantly, an eternal fan of The Little Mermaid, I’ve always loved being in the water. And yet the idea of taking the plunge, so to speak, to scuba dive has never crossed my mind for more than a few seconds. Once was when in High School my teacher talked about scuba diving in a pool, which sounds a bit boring doesn’t it? Also my familiarity with open bodies of water is limited to the Great Lakes which don’t seem very appealing for diving, although I’ve heard that Kingston (Ontario that is!) is a big pull for people who like to explore shipwrecks.
It started off very technical when we put all the equipment on (wet-suits and flippers) and hopped into a pool. We practiced breathing from the air tanks, how to pop our ears (some snot mayyy have made an appearance) and hand signals. The we scuba-dived (scuba-dove?)! In the pool! The hardest part was adjusting the new weight I had on my back and to the buoyancy. Our instructor showed me how to properly put on my mask so it wouldn’t fill with water. I didn’t think this would be my biggest struggle, but it was. Incidentally now I know why I always have so much problems with my mask when I go snowboarding (lol). I also didn’t think to bring a hair elastic so my hair was often plastered to my face above water. Our guide would push it back against my head in the way someone might push a small child’s hair out of the way when they’re eating ice cream. Not because you think they can’t do it but because you know they’re busy with more important things (ice cream).
Then we made our way down to the beach and plunked ourselves in the water. And there we were! We went under and started swimming around. Perhaps floating is a better word – it turns out that you actually shouldn’t move to much while underwater. You shouldn’t use your hands too paddle forward because it throws off your body position and all you need is slow, stead up and down movements with your feet to allow your flippers to move you forward. You also have to remember to breathhhheee. It’s like when you’re at the gym doing weights or something and you suddenly realize you’ve been holding your breath. You have to keep breathing, slowly in and quickly out.
So I was in the midst of doing all this, thinking about breathing, thinking about my arms, and I suddenly looked around me and realized I WAS UNDERWATER. It is an insanely surreal experience. To feel weightless in water, and be able to move any direction and look at anything. I realized it was how I felt when I’ve flown in my dreams. And what I imagine flying might be like if my one superpower was granted. Scuba diving was not exciting in a heart-pounding, adrenaline kind of way. But it was thrilling and otherworldly.
We spent about twenty minutes underwater to have lunch. Walking up the beach for lunch was actually the biggest struggle I had all day because my legs were so weak from climbing Mt. Batur the day before plus now I had a giant air tank on my back! I felt like a toddler just discovering how to walk down stairs.
We went back into the water for about 40 minutes. We went to see a big sunken ship. I saw a ray, and a HUGE turtle (it must have been like three feet long at least). I posed for a lot of pictures, and upon reviewing them I have truly realized the impact living in Japan has had on me (peace signs in every.single.one. haha). Our instructor and I took a selfie together. I had to mime this underwater but he understood immediately what I was asking.