Monday 22nd August

This day was the first day of the ‘Tenerife Tour’ – by this point the workshops had officially finished, and Kasha, Davey, and Jay were either gone or leaving. Vesta had also gone, Marko was leaving tomorrow, and a lot of others were just never seen again. Myself and laura though had other plans – namely a trip around the island. However, recent events had created an unexpected one-day delay – I needed to finish my PADI course.

The final two dives took place today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Mica and Jaime were on hand to lend assistance, as was their boss Alex, who I hadn’t had the privilege of diving with yet. The first dive was my final contained dive just off the nearby beach – a guy called Horace was to be my randomized buddy for the duration, as my old buddy Faye had now also gone home with Emma.

This final try dive was extreme in the most extreme sense – the currents made my usual lack of stability now almost uncontrollable. If there was any thought I was exaggerating, the fact that the sand was being kicked up from the floor so much I could hardly see the teacher told me otherwise. I ran through all the final lessons, and again I managed to complete most tasks to satisfactory standard. The only one I had problems with was changing the weight belt – something I had problems with doing in the dive centre, never mind in these conditions. However, Mica cleared me for the final dive – the deep descent to twenty meters in open water – i.e. down to the bottom of the ocean floor away from the shore.

I practiced all through my lunch break trying to get the weight belt on and off. Now focusing properly, I managed to understand the mechanism fairly quickly. Confident that I had indeed got the hang on changing a weight belt (you have to hold it close to your body at all times, otherwise your feet float upwards), I went out a second time, this time in the company of Alex, the dive master. We dove off the boat out at sea using the roll maneuver,  and quickly descended with two other divers. We dropped to twenty meters, two more than my usual allowance, and I had problems pressurizing, so I held fast for a moment, went up, ‘popped’ my ears, then joined the others on the ocean floor.

The scene reminded me of a bad N64 game – you could see many meters in every direction, until the sea blotted the vision out in a black and blue haze. Everything is creepy and quiet, and you start to wonder how much you’d panic if a whale suddenly appeared out of the fog. Luckily for me, the place was barren, much like a lunar landscape. We saw more tropical fish, a manta ray, and an old victorian fishing cage discarded on the sea. Alex led the group back to my usual stomping ground at Turtle Bay, and everything was going fine… until we checked out oxygen supplies.

Everyone had more than 50% of their oxygen remaining, but I was getting near the red zone. For those who know about diving, I had gone from 200 bar to 60 bar in about twenty minutes. Even Alex looked surprised. I figured my cylinder had a leak, or perhaps I’d set something up wrong. However, at no point did I feel panicked or in danger. One of the other divers even got his emergency breathing apparatus ready in case I needed it. Me and Alex swam side by side a little while longer, until I started to hit what I considered dangerously low levels. Then, I swapped my mouth piece for his secondary one, and we continued much in a similar fashion to the try dives of old.

It took only minutes before Alex stopped me to communicate something. I was using my arms for added control, and kicking the fins quickly to propel myself along the water faster. I gone up and down a few times, just to play and practice what I had learned. In Turtle Bay, the oxygen levels were more forgiving. At this depth, my oxygen had pretty much ran out due to the increased pressure (oops). It took a while for me to move gently as Alex was instructing me to do by using his fingers to mimic my feet. This was a rookie error – something I would only learn with more dives and extended practice.

We made it back to Turtle Bay, were we saw a plethora of other sea turtles. I was given my oxygen back as the depth narrowed – another diver had almost ran out, and shot back to the boat almost in a panic. I myself gently headed back to the boat, took off my jacket, and spent a few more minutes floating in the sea on the surface, peering at the turtles below through my visor. Alex explained my mistakes in full from the boat, and I acknowledged what he was saying. All things considered, I think I’d just scraped a reasonable PADI qualification.

Back at the centre, Jaime finished off what was left to do online and regarding paperwork. Within thirty minutes I was on ‘the system’ as a qualified Open Water Scuba Diver, and I had my log book to hand with five dives in it, all by Zero Gravity. My friend Andra (also diving with another local dive centre) took this photo before I left, with Jaime on the left and Mica on the right:

These two had accompanied me on the most dives – my PADI qualification was thanks largely to them. They invited me for a final (free) dive next Tuesday – time will tell if I take them up on the offer.

I returned to Arona really tired and exhausted from the day’s events. I considered sleeping on the terrace, but still had a bad cold (that luckily hadn’t effected my diving today), so I decided to stay in the apartment bedroom to ensure I kept warm.

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