Saturday, January 21, 2012
Resort Divers - Quanacaste, Costa Rica - Incredible Scuba Diving Experience
After certifying as a life guard, snorkelling for years and spearfishing, I did over a hundred dives scuba diving. . I first learned open water diving in Mexico then continueddiving in Vancouver, Canada. I did my Padi Advanced and Rescue Diving in a dry suit in the murky freezing cold waters of Georgia Strait. I am surprised to say I did quite a few recreational dives there, night dives, wreck dives and such. Then God was truly kind to me. I worked in Northern Marianas Islands for two years. Each week I did the world famous dives around Saipan and Guam. I returned to Grotto cave dives over and over again but a couple of us would usually simply walk out from any beach and have an incredible diving experience. Lots of cave dives, sharks, wreck diving, float diving and some dives beyond a hundred and 20 feet. I returned to Canada and began diving their again. It was when I was doing my dive master training that I got the sinusitis, had a bad dive because of that and stopped diving.
My friend, Dr. Bernie Klassen loved to scuba dive and he loved Costa Rica. I had always hoped one day to dive here with him but he passed away a few years back after a rich and long live. I still miss him.
So I went out for my first dive, paying for one on one instructor, not taking the offered pool experience but then having a bad experience because the kids who were running the dive scared me and I scared myself. I liked the manager of the place and she'd cautioned me about my need to re familize myself in the pool before going out in the deep water. I should have taken her advice. Maybe then I wouldn't have found the kids so irritating. I almost gave up diving for good though.
Fortunately for me I talked to the Resort Diver folk at the HIlton Papagayo Resort where I was staying. Before leaving Canada I'd booked a dive with them for Saturday. Now I wasn't sure. So I told them about the sinus infection, 2 years of sinus problems, 5 years without diving, then the bad experience and panic attack earlier in the week. They said they'd talk to Robert, their dive master and instructor, who had 17 years diving and teaching experience locally, had done 10's of thousands of dives in these waters and instructed countless individuals and lead as many groups. I figured I should face my fears, as usual.
Later that same day I had a chance to watch Robert teaching a couple of newbies in the pool and was very impressed with his manner.
Saturday morning came and we met. Tall, white bearded, short hair, twinkling eyes, white Resort Divers t shirt. "Are you the fellow I'm diving with today," he asked.
"Yes, " I replied.
"Don't worry," he said. "I heard you had a sinus problem and its natural to be anxious diving after sinus problems. We'll go very slow. I'll be with you all the way. Often a problem is just a series of little problems which need to be broken down. I'll do this with you and soon your problem will be so small it will go away."
I liked him already. Great psychology! Very calming.
We went to the pool and he had me put on the equipment and balance myself just up from the bottom. That went well. It all only took about 10 minutes before we were off to the very skookum sturdy dive boat. That was one sturdy boat. As a yachtsman I loved the boat. In minutes we were at our first dive site. Minutes later we were geared up. Melvin, the boat driver, helped me with my equipment, assisting me every step of the way, physically.
Robert then checked everything out himself to make sure I was okay to go. He was especially careful with the weight belt. He inflated my jacket too giving me more air than I'd done already. He stepped into the water and I followed. I was immediately buoyant. Just like the old days. No sinking like a stone and paddling water trying to inflate my jacket after I was underwater. No sense of terror at trying to keep my head above water while being pulled down by my weight belt. Serenity. Glorious serenity.
"See, that's okay, isn't it? Now hold onto the boat and relax." The boat had a skookum hand rail attached around it just above the water line.
"Enjoy the view. Isn't this the way a holiday should be?" I was really pleased with myself at that point.. My love of diving was already coming back. No rush. I moved over to the anchor line.
"Ready to go down or do you want to wait some more, " Robert asked. "I'm loving just being here. So we don't have to rush. Whenever you're ready we can go down the anchor line. I'll go ahead but I'll be watching you. Take time to clear your ears, go as slowly as you want."
We began to descend. Just like the old days. It was heaven. As close as flying as one can get without a plane, I'd say. I cleared my ears and floated. At the bottom I adjusted my buyancy. Then Robert began to meander along looking at everything. I was a kid inside my fish tank all over again. Here I was back in that alien world with all these incredible fish inhabitants checking me out. It was sensational.
My breathing was fine. My sinuses weren't a problem. A big ray came near us. After that a huge moray eel swam by. I was sorry I didn't have my camera for this dive. Robert even pointed out a lobster in it's den. Lagoosta!. He was smiling like a boy treasure hunting. This was a good time! I thought of all the dives, especially those incredible ones in Saipan with my friend, Willi. Scuba diving is just great! Fish everywhere.
I love scuba diving. It was a great swim under the sea and eventually at 1000 we began to consider going up taking three minutes break to avoid nitrogen getting trapped in the body and the resultant bends.
"That was spectacular," I told Robert back on the boat. "I'm certainly back in the game".
"You did just fine. You only needed not to be rushed." Melvin was feeding us pineapple slices while Robert asked what I did. I told him I was a psychiatrist and that he was a great psychotherapist. He laughed, "That's what I do. Help people overcome their fear so they can participate in what I love and enjoy. Alot of people have anxiety but they want to dive and I want that for them too."
Of course he explained everything carefully and went over the equipment a couple of times. He talked in technical detail but nonetheless as if I was a beginning taking nothing for granted, going over everything. i liked that. I liked that he repeated himself. I liked that he was so calm and teaching in the way he reviewed everything.
The second dive was like I'd never been away from diving. Great schools of fish swam all around us. I had my camera and took pictures but mostly I meditated on the wonder of this underwater world. I'm so glad I came back. It never ceases to amaze me.
After the second dive, back on the boat, Robert said, "Despite doing 10's of thousands of dives about Monkey Head, (where we'd just dove), I always see something new."
Melvin drove the boat back to the Hilton. We just about flew over the sea. What a great ride that was. I was elated with the dive and so thankful to be over my fear.
I would recommend Robert and Resort Divers to anyone. He was certainly fun but experienced, safe, knowledgeable and wise, as well..
I took the pictures with my Canon IXY with underwater camera housing. There's an underwater setting on it. Unfortunately I don't have the photoshop on this macair. Photoshop has an underwater correction feature which with one touch corrected the light for the depth underwater. The water was a little murky but visibility was far better than the pictures depict. The dive was just perfect. I had a fabulous time and am looking forward to returning to scuba diving in Canada when I return there. Maybe when I'm 70. Dad was hang gliding in his 70's so I may have to switch to hang gliding when I get older. My older brother still plays competitive soccer and cycles for days on end whereas I think my Harley Davidson is a far better two wheeled device. Come to think of it the only thing that might make diving even more fun is a harley power underwater torpedo, something like what Dirk Pitt has in those Clive Cussler novels. . If I see Robert again I'll ask him if he can arrange for us to get hold of one of those when I come back to Costa Rica for more scuba diving. Now that I've got slow and serene back again maybe speed would be fun. "Sometime" in the future.