Lila’s Bali Diary - part 3

Scuba diving with Nemo

I slept awfully. I was constantly waking up and when I was up, I tried to breathe only through the mouth, without using the nose.  When I came to the pool at OK Divers in the morning, I felt terrible, but I was determined not to give up. "Laci, I'm taking a snorkel and a mask, and I will try to do the impossible here in shallow water." "Yeah, I'm just gonna prepare the bottles and I'll be right there."

I try to calm down and immerse my face in the cool water, without a mask, just with a snorkel. Until I have only my face in the water, I don’t use my nose. But once I dip the whole head, I can instantly feel the salty water in my throat.

"I really don’t know how to do this," I explain angrily to Laci. I’m so angry with myself.  " Don’t worry, Lila, let’s try it with the regulator once again," says Laci.

I'm putting the wetsuit on, and I’m thinking of Harry Potter. He must have felt like that when he tried to fight the dementors.

We are in the water and Laci tells me that first I need to trythe full mask exercise, so I need to fill my whole mask with water and then get rid of it. It’s interesting, that now that I know I'm going to have to take the whole mask off at a depth of 12 meters (and put it on again), I have no problem with a mask full of water anymore. I'm not happy at all, but I pull the mask off and when it is full of water, I blow  into my nose several times to get the water out. "Now, let's just get that mask down, though," Laci says when we get up to the surface.

"Laci, can I try to hold my nose? Maybe it will help me, I really don’t know what else I could do", I come up with a plan that has only one flaw and that with my hand on my nose, it will be pretty hard to put the mask back on.

We're at the bottom of the pool, and it takes me only zillion years to really make it. I pull the mask of with one hand and I immediately hold my nose with another, breathing through the regulator. Laci lets me hold on like this for about half a minute, and then presses my shoulder to signal that I can put the mask back on. I still hold my nose for a while and breathe deeply through the regulator. Then I let go and I quickly try to put on my mask, while (very strangely, but at least I’m breathing at all!) I breathe through the regulator. When I have a mask full of water on my face, a little bit of water runs through my nose into my throat, but I swallow it, press the mask frame on my forehead, looking up towards the surface, and do my “hysterically blowing nose” procedure. And just like that, my mask is empty.

I feel pure happiness until Laci shows me OK, cool, but we're going to repeat it a couple of times. I repeat this torturing procedure three more times, but I feel more confident with every try. Laci finally lets me float to the surface. "Listen, don’t you suffer? Because your mask clearing sometimes looks really horrible. Are you alright? ''Yes , I'm OK '', I’m laughing. "I thought it would be much worse, first I swallowed some water, but now I know what to do at least and I feel OK. I did not feel any panic at all, I'm just clumsy and I cannot do it any other way." "Okay, we can go into the sea then," says Laci smiling. I remind him that this was not the only exercise I did not make. "What about self-rescue with that annoying sound?" "We will try it in the sea today or tomorrow, it could make it easier for you to go from a bigger depth to the surface and the air in your lungs will expand, so it would last you longer."

While we take the boat to one of the Padangbai dive sites, I take big breaths through my mouth and try to exhale as long as possible. I feel like it is OK when I do not make any aaaaaa sounds, but I don’t want to practice it..

"So we are here, please set up and go one by one make a back-roll into the water. You have to sit on the boat frame with your back to the sea, hold your mask and regulator with one hand, the other hand on the back of your head and you roll into the water. But before that, don’t forget to spit in the mask and rinse it with water", says Laci. Then he shows us the back-roll in action and I travel back in time to my childhood. I'm in a gym class, and we have to make somersaults. And I almost break my neck in this task. I'm back in reality, I feel a bit of discomfort. My plan is, however, to tell Lucia inconspicuously, to actually push me in the water. However, at the end, it’s not necessary, the captain of the boat will count for me and when he says “THREE!”, I’m falling into the water. My body makes contact with the water and I do somersault…and suddenly I'm back in normal position. No drama.

Laci tells us, that we have to deflate our BCD (info for non-divers, that's a special vest, rather crucial for the diving itself) and that while we go down we have to use the anchor rope. We are going slowly into the deep and I try to calm down, because I realize I'm breathing very fast. I have pressure in my ears and try to equalize it by squeezing my nose and blowing gently into it, but this method, which works for most people, has never been successful for me. So I try to swallow at least…and it’s working so hurray,  my head will not blast. All of us, except Laci, are holding tightly onto the rope. He gradually turns to each of us and tries with us the first half of the practical exercises that we learned in the pool. I'm just very reluctant to drop the rope. My implementation of practical exercises is, of course, the most hopeless of all, but I made them all at least (and without panicking!) and Laci shows me OK so I guess have done it. The first part is over.

And then fun diving begins for me like I dreamed.

Finally, I relax a bit and start concentrating more on what's happening around me. I realize that I’m very close to the bottom. I look at the dive computer on my hand (for non-divers, the computer is a special watch for diving) and I find that we are at a depth of 12 meters. This fact shocks me and I touch unwillingly the bottom with the fins. For another three minutes, I try to dispel the depression that I probably killed some innocent sea creatures or corals because of my stupidity. But then Lucia puts an end to my underwater depression, pointing to a sea anemone. I'm getting closer and I can see that there is a clown fish in it. Nemo is not happy that we have approached his anemone, he is attacking us quite angrily, what is, in his size, comical. However, we respect his right to privacy and we leave. I realize that I’m smiling for the first time underwater.

The rest of the dive I’m totally amazed by the beauty around us. I regularly watch how much air I still have left in the tank and try to make short inhales and long slow exhales so that I can stay underwater as long as possible. It is definitely not silent underwater. When you dive, you can hear different sounds that come to you from a long distance. As I admire the parrot fish, I hear a sound I cannot identify. First of all, I am surprised to hear anything at all through my Darth Vader style breathing. I turn around and get another surprise. There's a big submarine behind us. And around the submarine clutches of small and bigger fish. I am floating weightless in the space as a confused astronaut in the universe, and I'm trying to mentally process this picture. Laci and Katka slowly swim to the submarine waving to the tourists inside. When I recover from the shock, I’m finally able to wave at them too, at least.  I see a submarine. Underwater. I am laughing at the absurdity of this situation in my mind. If anyone told me that once I would  wave to a  submarine with my friends, I probably would not believe him.

A few minutes ago, however, I had a problem believing that I would ever be able to dive in the sea at all, so I re-evaluate my approach. When Laci signals us that we have to go back to the surface, I cannot help but look forward to the  scuba diving adventures to come during my OWD course.

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