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My first dive - Episode 1

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Two years ago, learning to ride a motorcycle was very difficult for me. Crying, nightmares, worries, a feeling of helplessness and finally a... mixed success.

However, last year, when I put my new learning to the test, I discovered an extraordinary feeling of fullness and decided to push my limits a little more. When my partner suggested we get a scuba certification while we were in Colombia, I jumped at the chance.

A few weeks after my arrival, I register and start the online course. What a great discovery. Me who likes to learn, I am served. The course is very well put together, clear, accompanied by videos and… in French. After a week of study I feel very enthusiastic, I would even say excited, and ready to start the practical classes.

So I find myself, one beautiful Saturday morning, very early, at the nautical club of Cartagena, in front of a motor catamaran. I am ready. I read all the instructions, watched all the videos and even practiced some techniques in the pool in my apartment block.

After the introduction to the crew members, my diving instructor, a handsome Colombian by the name of Camillo, shows me how to prepare my equipment.

First observation… damn it’s heavy. About ten kilos for the equipment and another ten kilos for the bottle. It's not easy to get up with all that weight on your back...and get to the point of launching.

Unberthing is done smoothly. We leave Cartagena by taking the bays of Bocagrande (big mouth) and Bocachica (small mouth).

The ride offers us a completely different view of the city. The fortifications, built by the Conquistadors in 1586, were to make a strong impression on the corsairs and pirates who attacked this jewel.

San Felipe Castle, San Fernando Fort and San José Fort

After our sea trip, we arrive near the Baru peninsula.

Okay, my gear is ready. I only put on a palm-mask-snorkel and I jump into the water to apply the simplest techniques. Swimming around the boat, snorkeling, diving,... So far so good.

My instructor makes me remove my flippers and throws my wetsuit at me. Well I'm going to have to put on this latex ersatz. It's super sexy a wetsuit but ... not while I put it on. Without a point of support, I put on one leg and then the other and I squirm, pull, growl, gasp and finally manage to insert all my love handles into this tiny suit.

It is the turn of the equipment that has just landed near me. It's easier. Finally… a “little” easier. Once strapped into my buoyancy compensator, I take the regulator in my mouth and inhale my first ever gulp of bottled air. It's not as bad as I had imagined and I repeat my mantra..."I can do it".

A few exercises on the surface and we finally dive. My heart is racing, my breathing quickens... gently, gently,... I carefully follow every movement of my instructor.

The exercises aren't that difficult, until I have to take the regulator out of my mouth, find it, and put it back on.

Sounds simple, but I can't put it back in my mouth.

Let's's not that complicated though.

Let's see... That's it?

No it's not it, not at all, I'm out of air and I'm panicking. Immediately, Camillo takes the situation in hand. Using my regulator, he continuously pumps air into my mouth and directs me to the surface. After what seems like an eternity, I finally emerge.

I cry a little, I breathe, I calm down and…I go back with a little more apprehension.

We return quietly to the seabed and start the exercises again. This time, I have to put a little water in the mask and get rid of it by exhaling through my nose. It's easy, I had practiced. We continue…

I must now remove the mask, put it back on and start the nasal exhalation technique again. It's easy...I've done it before. Except that… instead of exhaling, I inhale. My airways fill with seawater and...I'm suffocating again.

There are beautiful and good techniques to solve this problem except that… I am suffocating. I am unable to inhale with my regulator. And it begins again.

Rise in fourth gear to the surface. But there.. I've had enough. It's all very well to want to go beyond your limits, but it seems that I have exceeded them too much. I get back in the boat, with my 20 extra kilos. I cry, I vomit and I finally retreat to a corner hoping to quickly forget this experience. I am exhausted and the seasickness will not leave me until I return to dry land.

My companion's experience is quite different. He is like a duck to water. The instructor even believes that it is a diving expert sent to test him.

This is to tell you that it does not improve my self-esteem and my morale.

When I leave the marina, Camillo makes me promise to come back the next day to finish the course. I promise… but without knowing if I will succeed in keeping this promise.

The following night, my unconscious is populated with nightmares of drowning while my subconscious tries to figure out my mistakes.

When I wake up, I assess my level of mental energy and…I decide to go back. It will not be said that I give up easily...

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