As I write this particular piece, I am sitting at the multifaceted dive shop, where I spend most of my time these days. You dive from here, you eat here, you you study here, you soak up the Internet here and your friends are here. It’s home base, if you will. Currently, I have the sunset over the water on my right, a game of pool is beginning on my left and I just received a fresh (and overdue) vodka & tonic from my American buddy. I haven’t checked the time in a while, but apparently, it’s about ten after six. There’s quite a nice breeze this evening and I’m surrounded by three different conversations at one table, even one about “Vegemite.” If you don’t know what it is, Google it. Add it to the list of Aussie terms I’m learning down here. The plan for tonight was to take it easy, but suddenly there’s word of a snorkel test for a couple of the graduating Dive Masters happening at 8:30. In other words, this place will transform into a complete shit-show very shortly. I can’t quite explain a snorkel test, so you’ll have to Youtube that one. It’s worth your time. Picture a law student graduation party, only it’s on an island…with snorkle and scuba gear. It’s brutal for the newly crowned Dive Masters, but a blast for everyone watching. Once again, I don’t think I’ll be “taking it easy tonight.”
This was taken on Water Caye, last week at the full moon party. A boat drops you off around sunset, leaving you with sand, trees, friends and booze. No cars, no bikes, no roads. Just a full moon and an island. It may or may not have been a late night….oooor morning?
At this point, you could very well be wondering why I’m still blabbing about this island and all its awesomeness. Shouldn’t I be in Nicaragua by now? Shouldn’t my photos be less about diving and more about volcanoes and chicken buses? Well, perhaps. But seeing as this entire trip is on my terms and the only time that exists is reflected in my bank account balance, then no. No, I don’t “need” to be anywhere. That being said, I’ve decided to stay a while and go through the Dive Master program. And by a while, I mean at least 5 more weeks, if not more. I fell in love with diving last June when I was here for the first time. That love was found again this go ’round and I’m hanging onto it. I thought about this decision and its financial implications for a few days before finally arriving at “hell yes.” I asked myself the most important question, “why not?” Other than spending a bit more than originally planned, there wasn’t an answer to that question. Nicaragua will still be there, so will the Spanish language. I talked with one of my new girlfriends here, who’s also in the course, and she was both supportive and excited for me. In fact, all of my new buddies were, as they are all either in the DMT program, or have just recently completed it. It was so nice to have that kind of encouragement so far from home. I knew I made the right decision almost immediately.
Another perfect day below sea level.
I suppose I should take a minute to explain what being a Dive Master really means. I’m fairly certain most of my friends aren’t diving gurus, so it only makes sense. Basically, as a DM, I can lead people on dives. Think of it as a tour guide of the sea. This also means that I can make money. Assuming I don’t die during the 400M swim (part of my course) and I do, in fact, graduate, I can pick up a job at any dive shop along the way. You don’t make a ton, but it is enough to offset your day-to-day spending. Given the amount of partying and going out that goes on down here, it’s well worth the time. I could even stay a bit longer here and work to make up for some of the money I’ve blown on the course. Or, I can keep on moving and pick up a job elsewhere. It’s kind of a win-win.
The course is a bit intense, but seeing as I’m jobless and living the dream, what’s a little challenge? In order to become a DM, you must complete your open water certification, followed by your advanced open water and rescue courses as well. As of right now, I have just completed my rescue dives and am officially a DMT (Dive Master in training). Kind of exciting, yeah? From here, I’ll have to work my way up to 40 dives (I’m already at 19) and complete a massive amount of other skills, bookwork, etc. I have to admit, I am slightly overwhelmed. But, like anything else, it’s just “one day at a time.” Not to mention, I’ll be diving almost every single day. That is music to my ears, friends. I could not be happier with my current place in life. I would drive you all nuts if I gushed about how happy I am here, so I will (try to) contain myself. It’s really gross though. I’m in love with life and am absolutely thrilled with the decisions I’ve made to get “here.” Saving money, quitting the job…it’s already proving to have been worth every second. I wake up to the sound of dive tanks clinging together at 6AM and it couldn’t be a more cheerful alarm. I braid my hair into pigtails (because that’s the only way I can even think about brushing through it, post-dive), throw my suit on, head to the little tienda to get a granola bar and half-gallon of water….and head for the boat. We get back to the shop between 10:45 and 12:30, depending on what dive sites we visited. We log our dives almost immediately afterwards and then grab lunch…or a beer. I rarely know what day of the week it is here. No one really does. Time is so bizarre on this island and we’re not quite sure where it all goes. All of this being said- it’s become a little home to me. Well, a temporary one, anyways. I’ve met a slew of fantastic people and have enjoyed every minute – even the hungover ones. My biggest daily dilemmas involve deciding where to eat lunch and whether or not I should spend two US dollars on a coffee or not. Really. Life is fucking good.
Here’s a rare, calm moment on Utila: Sunset yoga on the dock with just a few girls. It really is as relaxing as it looks.
Sunset from the boat, just before the full moon party. Why would I leave this place?
Okay, kids. That’s it for now. I will try to keep up with posting smaller entries throughout my DMT, in an effort to keep things interesting. I mean……I have to SWIM 400 METERS. Have you met me? I don’t swim. Not like that. (Starla, I know you’re laughing right now). I also have to learn how to tie a (moving) boat to a buoy, without falling overboard. What have I gotten myself into? Well, it looks like good stories are on the way!