Coming back to the “arctic tundra” of New York was quite difficult, especially after spending a few days in the sun, getting my month’s worth of Vitamin D. I had the chance to go scuba diving while I was in Aruba with Red Sail Sports, for about $84. I haven’t been diving since my certification in July, however, my Dive Master Vicky was extremely helpful.
Of course, though, it was not ‘smooth sailing’ (hah, because I was diving, not sailing…). We were set to dive at 9 a.m., and had to arrive at the pier by 8:30 a.m. I got there at about 8:20, happy that I was early. The pier was close to my hotel and was on the ocean, the turquoise waves crashing into it. I stood next to the Red Sail Sports station, eagerly waiting for the person who checks us in to show up.
And then it started to rain. Great, I thought, the visibility is going to be crap. The rain lasted a total of three minutes, though, and was over before I had any time to become annoyed.
Time was ticking closer to 8:30, and still, no one had arrived. I was starting to think my New York fast-paced lifestyle was not something you would ever see in Aruba (they are so laid back).
There was an older couple waiting near me, so I asked if they were going diving, hoping I would have someone to wait with.
“No, I wish we were. We’re both getting over a cold, so we didn’t even want to go snorkeling.” Damn.
“Oh, alright. I was just wondering where the diving people were, they said to meet here,” I said.
“Well, it’s a Sunday, and everything is different on Sundays.” For some reason, I didn’t want to ask why. I was afraid the answer was going to be something like they say 8:30 but really mean 9:30. “Have you been diving with this company before?” she said.
“No, I haven’t. I haven’t gone since my certification, which was in a lake in the middle of Pennsylvania.”
“Ah, well, you’re going to love it. When I went in the Cayman Islands, visibility was about 100 feet.”
“That’s incredible,” I said, hoping I would have the same luck. I checked my watch again. 8:33. Where could they be?
A younger couple then appeared, holding a BCD, flippers, and regulator.
“Where did you guys get that equipment?” I said.
“Where you check in. Go down the path, then make a right, and then it’ll be on the right side.” Where you check in?!
“I was told to meet here, wow, thank you so much!” I saw another couple walking towards me holding their scuba gear. Of course, now I was late.
I almost immediately forgot what the guy had said, since I was so preoccupied with the fact that I was late. I started walking aimlessly in the direction he pointed, hoping I would see a sign for Red Sail Sports. Well, I didn’t.
I looked around for five minutes, obsessively checking my phone for the time. I’m not that late, it’s fine, they have to wait anyway.
When I couldn’t find them, I decided to ask a local.
“Hi, would you happen to know where Red Sail Sports is?” I said.
“Heh?” she said. My stomach tightened as if I were a towel being wrung.
“Red Sail Sports? For scuba diving,” I said.
“Oh, oh, diving? Dive?”
“Yeah, Red Sail Sports.”
“Over there, yellow umbrellas,” she said in broken English. I thanked her and walked towards the umbrellas, which completely stuck out against the faded brown shack it was next to.
“I knew you were one of my divers, I saw you walking around, lost,” a woman said as I approached the shack. Her name was Vicky (who was my Dive Master).
“I was waiting by the pier, and no one came!” I said. She smiled back and checked me in.
“You need a wetsuit?” I shivered at the thought of diving without a wetsuit. During my certification, I spent the better half of the last dive with a numb face and chattering teeth that probably scared away all the fish.
“Try this one,” she said, handing me a shorty. I started to put it on as another woman came up to the shack next to me, signing in. I couldn’t figure out which way the wetsuit went, so I guessed and started to put it on.
“Wrong way,” Vicky said. First I’m lost, now I can’t even put a wetsuit on. These people probably think I’m an idiot. My cheeks burned as I turned the wetsuit around all nonchalantly, as if I was pretending I knew that it had been backwards.
I grabbed my equipment and headed towards the boat.
A woman was now behind the desk at the pier where I waited. I signed in and filled out paperwork, already out of whack from before.
For some strange reason, I dated everything as DD/MM/YY, instead of MM/DD/YY, which it said to do. Do I think I’m in Europe or something? I crossed everything out and redid it. I was also confused on how to fill out the information about my card. I scribbled my number down and ran over to the boat. I was the absolute last one to get on.
“The boat is taking off, now,” another instructor said. I jumped on, putting my things next to a tank, determined to prove that I knew what I was doing.
The boat pulled out and we were off in a matter of seconds. I started to put my equipment together, secretly eyeing the woman next to me, who had apparently been on 16 dives, to see what she was doing..
Suddenly, Vicky came over to me.
“How much do you need in weights?” Before I had gotten on the boat, I had looked at how much I had used in weights when I got certified, which was 20 pounds (which seemed like a lot, but it was what I had written down).
“Um, 20?” I said, already knowing that I sounded like an idiot as the numbers slivered out of my mouth.
“What?!” she said, flabbergasted.
“Um, um, I don’t know, it’s what my book said.” There was no turning back.
“I use 8 pounds,” the woman next to me said.
“Okay, 8,” I said. I turned to the woman, and said, “I don’t know why I said 20, but it’s what I used last time for my certification.”
“You were in fresh water, right? That’s why,” she said. Well, I’m finally living up to the ‘blonde’ stereotype. This was not going as planned.
“Right, duh, duh, yeah, this is actually my first real dive since being certified, so I don’t really know what I’m doing,” I said.
“You’ll be fine!” I smiled and nodded, hoping that I would remember everything once I was in the water.
The next time I looked up, we had arrived at our destination. I asked Vicky to check my equipment for me, and before I knew it, I was jumping into the water and descending 70 feet.
Here goes nothing, I thought as I deflated my BCD and the world went quiet.