This weekend, I officially became PADI (Professional Association of Diver Instructors) certified as an open water diver. I probably would not have gotten certified, if it weren’t for the tempting coral reef and saltwater marine life. Many years ago, I was diving with my dad. I was a teenager, and I knew little to nothing about diving. We were in Beaver Lake feeding the fish clams, and all was well in the world. We were sharing the same tank of air, he had the primary breathing regulator and I had his secondary source. A larger fish caught his eye, and his movement caused the regulator to come out of my mouth. I did not panic. I grabbed the regulator, put it in my mouth, but was unable to expel the water. So, I panicked. I shot up to the surface, and weights from my weight belt went everywhere (dad was not injured and was able to successfully dodge the weights). It was a horrifying experience. I never dove in a lake again.
However, being bitten by the travel bug has inspired me to be more adventurous. There’s a whole lot of world to see out there, both above the surface of the water, and below! The first week I was in Grenada, I had no obligations, so a friend of mine recommended going to Devotion 2 Ocean (located at Rex by Grenadian on the Point Salines/Frequente bus route) to begin my certification to scuba dive. I had been looking at coral reef and the underwater sculpture park online for days, filled with excitement. So, I began my certification experience in the shallows of the pool (after completing online PADI e-learning). Ocean was my instructor, and he was beyond patient and calm, which is great for scuba diving lessons. It can be a little unnerving taking your breathing apparatus out of your mouth or your goggles off of your face in the depths of the ocean. Thankfully, the very first session Ocean instructed me on how to do both. Immediately, I felt relief from the fear of losing a regulator with my dad. The lessons really help you to build up your confidence in your skills, thus helping you remain calm, which is really important underwater.
Medical school started shortly thereafter, and I would try to dive in the mornings, to continue to work on my skills, so that I could dive with my dad, when my parents visited me in Grenada. I am still relatively new to this med school thing, however, its really time consuming, and its hard to balance everything. But, I was committed to the cause, so even though on the way to scuba diving lessons I would be thinking I don’t have time for this… I was so wrong. Every single dive helped me to feel refreshed by reminding me how small we are and how big this world is. When you dive, you don’t talk, and your thoughts cannot wonder. Especially, as a newer diver, I am focused on my buoyancy, equalization, and seeing all that is in front of me. It gives my mind and my mouth a break from stress, worries, and all the information I have in my brain from school. Its therapeutic to focus on your breathing, while seeing the natural beauty of the Caribbean coral reef. Some of my giddiest feelings on the island thus far are from scuba diving and getting an A on my first exam! I truly believe that diving helps my mind to focus, when I study. It would give my mind the break it needed.
Seeing the coral reef for the first time, I felt so excited, and I promise you, I was not thinking of medical school. The reef is full of life! We saw an eel and all kinds of super cool fish the first dive we did. Ocean has symbols for all the animals and he is really great at pointing all of them out. My favorite parts about the coral reef, is the abundance of life and all the colors. Dad joined me for my second open water dive, where I saw a huge yellow eel, and a sting ray! The third open water dive Dad and I went to Flamingo Bay, as well as, the Underwater Sculpture Park of Grenada. I had to take my mask off during this dive, and I ended up inhaling a lot of water, but was still able to clear it and go on with the dive. Flamingo Bay was full of life and colors; its my favorite reef I have been to yet!! The underwater Sculpture park was also incredibly cool and unique!
It was slightly scary to face my fears, and dive in the depths of the ocean, but I am thankful for the experience and for the positive outlet during my time in medical school. I love that it forces me to take a break, and the views are truly indescribable. I can take many pictures/videos, but it will never compare to the real view or the satisfying feeling of taking on a new adventure. There’s nothing quite like breathing underwater.
The first video is of a sting ray, the second is a video of Ocean killing the invasive Lion Fish, and the third is a video of the coral reef. Forgive me, I am a little shaky, still figuring it all out.