El Décimo Día de Enero – Water & Fire/Agua y Fuego

Kale is moving forward. Here’s his last post as a divemaster candidate! This is an edited version; you can read the full text of the original post here.

I am officially a Divemaster.

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Well, almost.  All of my paperwork and registration material still has to go through to PADI, but I’ve completed all the tasks required to take the first step in diving professionalism.  Therefore, it’s unofficially official – kapiche?

I finished last week off (Friday, the 4th) by conducting a mock class of Discover Scuba Dive students, consisting of Matthew and a freshly-hired instructor.  Had to go through the briefing, show them into the water as if they had never set foot in the ocean, and then spot delegated problems during skill demonstrations and correct them.

The following Monday, our assistants from the Rescue Diver course – Melina and Ken – came back to help with the infamous equipment exchange, where two divers must swap fins, masks, and the BCD (with scuba tank) while sharing only one regulator.  Matthew briefed us on what we’d be doing ten minutes prior to the actual test, and gave Melina and myself five minutes to discuss our plan of action.  We simplified it – mask first, fins second, BCD third – and hopped in the water after three.

Needless to say, we rocked it.  Taken out into roughly twelve feet of water, we were given the go ahead and began buddy-breathing; one person breathing off the regulator while the other removed equipment.  We traded masks and fins with ease.  Switching the BCD’s proved slightly more challenging, having to keep the regulator hose from getting twisted up, but we figured it out, ascended, and Matthew cut the skill.  We earned a solid 4 out of 5.  Sa-weet.

On Tuesday, I took on the role of an Open Water instructor and had to demonstrate five out of the twenty required skills with Matthew, Melina, and Ken once again.  Paralleling the mock DSD dive, common problems were delegated to my ‘students,’ which I would have to spot and remedy.  I demonstrated a variety of skills, like taking your mask off underwater, putting it back on, and clearing it; recovering your regulator; hovering above the ocean floor for thirty seconds controlled by your breathing alone; neutral buoyancy; and simulating a controlled emergency swimming ascent (or CESA), done by humming ‘aaaaah…’ while swimming horizontally for thirty feet.  The latter is a particularly important skill used if a diver happens to run out of air and must get to the surface.  Here I am making sure Matthew doesn’t pull anything funny.

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Yesterday was my last day.  I was given the responsibility of setting up the 8 a.m. boat, where seven other certified divers joined Matthew and myself.  I had to ensure all the right equipment was aboard – weights, belts, wristbands for the marine park, water, ice, snacks, scuba tanks – as well as make sure the divers were all accounted for.  When we took off, it was my decision to where would be diving that morning.  I asked the group what they would like to do, and chose Palancar Gardens – the first reef I dove at in Cozumel.  It was then my responsibility to brief everybody on the boat, and once we were in the water, my responsibility to guide.

Gotta say, it was a very interesting and enlightening experience taking on this role in what seemed like a blink of an eye.  All of a sudden I had seven people who were trusting me to guide them, in both terms of direction and professionalism.  It was difficult because I still don’t know the reefs that well, but with Matthew following from the back and shooting me signals on where to go, it went very smoothly.

With that first dive out of the way, we had a nice surface interval at a dock, where I got to talking with some of the people.  I was that much more comfortable when we set out for our second submersion, where I once again had to give the briefing and guide the dive. For my efforts, I was awarded with the sight of a gigantic moray eel, a coral-munchin’ sea turtle, and a nurse shark that swam right past me before our ascent out of the water.

And with that day behind me, my training was complete!

On the contrary to all this talk about water, Leah and I headed out yesterday evening to the main square.  We were meeting some friends – Ivan and Lezlie – who we had met on Sunday after they had put on a street performance involving fire-spinning.  We had approached them, asked questions about their fire toys (which were made by Ivan) and, upon mentioning that Leah spins too, were invited back so Leah could satiate her desire to light stuff on fire and whip it around her body.  So last night I had the absolute pleasure of witnessing – and capturing – my love do just that, alongside our young, talented new friends.

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More high-quality photos can be found on my flickr account.  Thanks ya’ll.

~KL

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