Monday, July 20, 2009
Learning to collaborate. Or not.
When traveling with a partner (spouse, friend, stranger), you may not always do what you want to do and vice versa, unless of course you’re really good at compromising and collaborating. You’d think after ten (gulp almost eleven) years of marriage Adrian and I would have perfected either, if not both of those. Apparently not. We’d spent the last few days trying to agree on which dive options to do for our certification and finally seemed to come to an agreement. We had to do the Deep and Navigation. And we choose to do the Drift, Photography and Night Dive options. I was still less than thrilled with the Night dive decision. Little did I know that our inability to collaborate and compromise was going to get worse.
7am. Time to get up. It was our first day of advanced diving. And we weren’t even sure which dives we were doing first. Gerd, our instructor was already up and at em, sorting out equipment and loading up the boat.
“Today you will do a drift dive and the navigation dive” he informed us. Of course, these were the two dives we hadn’t studied the night before while plowing through the huge textbook.
“Don’t worry it’s easy.” Gerd said with a smile.
He was incredibly laid back yet very thorough and professional. Just what I needed. What wasn’t easy was getting into the wetsuit. It was our first time wearing them and it took a bit to get used to pulling the neoprene on. I lost the skin off my knuckles in the process (just a warning, nothing is worse than a neoprene burn). But we got them on. Gerd then handed us two other new things – a dive computer and compass. The computer was cool but a bit intimidating with all its flashing numbers and buttons and the compass, well it was just a compass.
“Don’t worry. It’s easy too.” Gerd said when he saw me tentatively playing with the buttons.
All kitted out, we walked down to the beach where the boat had been put in the water. We climbed in and we were off. The boat headed out past the cove and towards Tayrona National Park. Just inside of the park boundaries we stopped (photo above).
“Okay, so now we do the drift dive” Gerd instructed before briefing us on the diving exercise. Essentially we’d be diving with and against the current. Easy peasy. I hoped.
We flipped into the water and I immediately understood why we needed the wetsuits. The water was definitely cold and a bit of a shock after the warm water in Utila and Panama. But with the wetsuits we were soon used to it. it was time to go down. For the last couple of days I’d had a bit of a sore throat but hadn’t felt sick. But going down I realized I must have been a bit congested as it took me twice as long to equalize my ears. But Gerd was patient and since it was just Adrian and I there was no rush or pressure to hurry.
Luckily the current wasn’t very strong where we were. But just enough to teach us what the steps and how tos. It was pretty cool, because at points the current just pushed us through the water and we didn’t have to kick at all. That used less air and meant we could stay down a little longer. It was a lot like doing a fun dive. Unfortunately, the visibility wasn’t the best in the current – I feel we may have been spoiled diving in Utila – but we still saw enough to make me happy. And because the drifting part of the dive was easy, I had plenty of time to get used to the dive computer (well, not much to get used to other than how to read all the numbers and readouts). But the fun soon ended when we had to swim against the current. This required a lot of kicking and was the first time I’ve ever felt any exertion while diving.
We surfaced back at the boat and hopped back in – okay not quite hopped. Without a ladder it took a couple of tries and the help of the captain to get back in. Then it was off to a beach in a cove for a rest break. The school provided a packed lunch for us but my only concern was peeing. With the wetsuit on this was a little trickier and I immediately made a note to self – Do NOT wait until the last minute. Don’t worry there was no peeing in the wetsuit.
After 45 minutes or so it was back out for the second dive. This time we were doing our Navigation skils. Now as well as the dive computer we had to manage the compass. But it also meant that Adrian and I had to work together and this is something that is always an issue. One of us had to measure distance while the other measured direction. I won’t blame any one (Adrian) but we didn’t ever actual work together. Someone (Adrian) decided to do both tasks rather than watch his partner. Yet somehow we managed to complete the task which Gerd told us was the important thing (probably in attempt to maintain martial harmony). Still arguing about who was in the wrong (Adrian) we headed back to sure having completed two out of our five required dives.
We spent the rest of the day reading our text book and arguing about who had messed up the navigation task (Adrian). But took a break and chatted to some of the other students. Besides the newbie Korean divers there was Phil from Denver who’d also lived in New Orleans and North Carolina. We compared Hurricane Gustav stories and tried to figure out who’d had it worse. Us getting stuck in Charlotte or him spending 16 hours on the highway trying to get to Alabama. We called it a draw.
Adrian and I were now back on speaking terms so we decided to take another one of Rona’s restaurant suggestions and headed out to the strip for dinner. It was indeed hippie central – friendship bracelets, fire dancing and that stick dancing thing. But the food was amazing. Adrian had filet mignon for less than $10 and when I say filet mignon, I mean there were three filets, with mushroom sauce as well as potatoes and a full salad. We didn’t break bread to make peace we clogged our arteries instead.