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Back to the Beginning
So, back to the beginning. As many of you have read many a DiveBunnie dive diva diary here, and whilst I am currently out of the water, I thought I would write a little diary of my own. Seeing as my blog is going to become severely tedious for those of you with no interest in my fractured foot (which probably includes everyone except myself!), and as we do not yet have any complete beginners' diaries, I thought I would share my experience here.
It was January 2002, with the post Christmas gloom setting in, and I was sat with my flat mate Mickey kind of bored of the English greyness. "Hmmm time for an escapade". So onto the internet I jumped and there twinkling at me from the ether, was a cheap as chips deal for a holiday in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Oooo that sounded cool, a little winter sunshine! And within a few minutes we were booked.
I had been to Egypt (Hurghada) once before and had taken part in what is called a "try dive". Basically you were bundled up in SCUBA kit, given a very brief briefing, and then taken down a line and dragged by the hand around a snippet of reef. In the end we had loved it so much we booked another three of these dives. Just the sensation of being underwater completely blew me away, not to mention the glorious array of life that we encountered in the aquarium that is the Red Sea.
So... I decided that this time, I would use the trip to learn to dive! Again out came the laptop, and I searched the hotel where we would be staying... "The Ocean Sands Hotel" and looked to see if they had a dive centre there. Yes they did... it was called "Ocean College" (sound familiar??). So... I thought I would give them a call and book a course. A very English voice answered the phone, which kind of surprised me, and after a quick chat, I was booked in. I was to be at the dive centre at eight o'clock on the day after we arrived. Wow! Mickey sadly was unable to dive on this holiday, so he planned to soak up a touch of winter sunshine while I blew my bubbles underwater.
The flight was pretty uneventful, and we arrived in the (then) little town of Sharm el Sheikh just before sundown. Ahh it certainly felt a little warmer than the UK, however I was a little concerned at the lack of sunshine! Hmmm will Mickey get bored by the pool if it is cloudy tomorrow?
Morning came, and together with the time difference, it felt like a very early morning, as I dragged myself from my cosy bed and down to breakfast. I noticed a couple of diving instructors milling around and felt a slight flip in my stomach. Hmmm I am not a natural water baby, and whilst I had loved my try dives, that had been a whole year ago, and I was now beginning to feel pretty nervous... gulp!
All too quickly, it was nearly eight o'clock and time for me to make an appearance at the dive centre at the back of the hotel. It felt like my first day at school all over again.
I was quickly registered and ushered into a classroom along with eight other students and two instructors, John and Steve. On first appearances, Mr Straight n cool and Mr Cheeky Chappie, however not long into the course, it soon became apparent that they made quite a comedy duo. My fellow students consisted of a couple of girlies Billie Jo and Margaret out with her diver boyfriend (who spent his week out looking for sharks!!... Sharks??!), a single guy Ken, a young couple learning to dive together, and a couple of guys out with their diver boss (yep he was lookng for sharks too this week too) who all worked together on the program "Walking with Dinosaurs".
Introductions were made, firstly by our two instructors and then by ourselves, why were we on this course, who we were and what did we do etc. So I told my story of the try dives, and how I had fallen in love with the pretty fish... and to be honest, the whole experience of our two days out on the boat.
Then it was time for the videos and knowledge sections. Like the true swot that I have always been, I had already read through my manual, highlighted the answers to the questions and completed my knowledge reviews... as I said, I have always been, and will always be, a little bit of a boffin. So, the videos and our chats simply reinforced what I had already read. Nice n easy. Tick tick tick, ten out of ten.. I'm not competitive am I?? I think I was also a little concerned that I was learning something so way out of my comfort zone, so I just didn't want to look stupid in front of the rest of the group.
Mickey joined us for lunch, having spent the morning cloudbathing by the pool. The weather still hadn't shown any great signs of improving. Whilst it wasn't cold, it wasn't roasting hot either, although in typical UK summer style the sun was certainly "trying to come out". I used to hear that expression as a child so much on our summer holls in Cornwall... funny. Anyway, a warm, but cloudy day chilling by the pool in Sharm sure beat a steely grey, arctic day working in London.
A little too soon for my liking, lunch was over, and we were to start getting our kit together. Big breath in and out... hmmm hope I haven't bitten off more than I could chew.
I had come prepared kit wise. Being small I had wanted to make sure I had a wetsuit and fins that fit, so I had bought my own. And I had got myself a bargain too... I think a full suit and jacket had only cost me £40 from a bargain rail woo hoo! And it was all very pink! My mum had given me her pink mask and snorkel, I also had her lovely pink fins. My suit, whilst black, was blessed with a delightful pink "v" shape both front and back. Hmm quite delightful in an 80's space suit kind of way.
Well, before long, and much to the now sunbathing Mickey's delight, we were inching our way into the pool, getting ourselves comfy in our kit, and practising some gentle breathing underwater. Yay! I could do it! I hadn't forgotten, and I was hyped. We all sat on the bottom in a row, and watched our two instructors... in sign language "all of you... watch me" so we watched as the first demonstration was made. First skill was to remove our regulator and pop it back in our mouth. Two important things here, we mustn't stop breathing, so had to blow bubbles and before we breathed back in again, we had to clear the regulator of water once it was back in our mouth. So... again a little anxious, as it came to my turn, I did the skill, and it worked! Aha!
Before long I was feeling really confident, I demonstrated removing my regulator, throwing it to one side and recovering it, really quite comfortable in my new aquatic environment. Even when I had to add a little water to my mask and blow through my nose to remove it, I succeeded again. Yee har! I was on a roll.
We learned how to breathe from our buddy's alternate air source and then we had some fun, a little swimming underwater around the pool. All too soon, the session was over. Wow how time flew. It was time to get out already, although I must admit, I was beginning to feel a teeny bit chilly.
Thankfully the sun had finally made an appearance, so Mickey was beginning to show a slight hint of warmth in his skin. I remained pasty white of course, but didn't care. I was so excited after such a successful first day.
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