There are a ton of different dive centres to choose from and they all offer very similar packages for similar price. I went with a place called Oceano Scuba since a couple at the hostel had gone with them and they were very pleased. I actually checked with a couple of other places first but i felt more welcomed and that Oceano Scuba was more a fit for me.
Its a three day course and i did 6 dives but i also had to watch 3.5 hours of videos and do some reading to learn about equipment, how air decompresses under water or was it the other way around, hand signals and much more. Tough work, especially trying to stay awake while watching the videos!!! I was lucky that i was the only one who had sign up to start the open water dive certification on the day i did, this meant i had my instructor all to myself. A handsome instructor he was as well and thank god very patient.
The dive centre had a decent and relaxed reception area, a couple of spaces to sit down to study or watch these lovely boring videos, area to clean the equipment, wardrobe for all wet suits and storage for all equipment. There is also a huge dog at the dive centre, its more the size of a pony then a dog to be honest. Me not being a dog person wasn't to impressed at first but then i realised that he was not just the biggest dog i ever met, he was also so friendly. The dive centre has a really chilled vibe, defiantly no stress here:)
In most places you do your first dives in a swimming pool but since Oceano Scuba don't have one you get to do your first dive in the sea. So after being introduced to Patricio, my instructor, he showed me how to get all the equipment ready, I squeezed in to my wet suit and then we headed for the speed boat. We were a group of 3 instructors, 4 "students", captain of the speedboat and someone that was assisting everyone.
I wasn't nervous before but on the way to the dive site i started to feel a bit worried. I'm ridiculous scared of the dark and since i haven't dived before i didn't know what level of darkness i would expect. Yes, the breathing under water thing didn't bother me at all at this stage. At first the captain was driving the boat very slow and i thought to myself that it would be great fun if he could speed up a bit. I should have been careful what i wished for; the slow start turned in to a very fast, bumpy and wet 10 minute ride.
Me and Patricio were let off at a beach, here we got our gear on and headed in to the water. We swam out to a buoy and now it was time to descend under water. I still thought that darkness would be my biggest challenge but i didn't realise how much different it feels to breath with the regulator at first. I basically got my head under water and it took two seconds and i decided that i wanted up again!!! Patricio was all calm and we tried a second time and same thing happened this time, only difference was that Patricio forced me to continue the descent. I believe he has well enough experience to see the difference if someone was just a pussy like myself or if someone actually felt panicked. On that first dive we practised on how to get the water out from my mask and also how to get in to the right position in the water. We went down to 13 meters already on my first dive and the dive lasted for half an hour.
After the dive the rest of the group came back from their morning dive and we all had lunch together. Then it was time for dive number two; this time i had to get in to the water from the boat with all my gear on. I felt less gracious getting everything ready on the boat, Im telling you. On my second dive my dive mask got a dive mask suction or what ever it is called. Basically the mask just squeezes harder and harder on to your face and it feels like your eyes will pop out. Since we were under water i couldn't really shout and tell Patricio what was happening but after some frantic pointing and other hand signals he understood. He adjusted my mask and I learned that the only thing i needed to do was to blow some air in to the mask with my nose. This time we did a 15 meter dive for 35 minutes and i felt the same way as with the first dive, I just wanted up to the surface for the first minute but then it past and i was happy to continue. When we were done with the dive we headed back to the Oceano headquarter and i had to watch the videos i mentioned in the beginning of the post. After the videos a quiz had to be taken as well.
Day two started at 8 am as well and i had to watch the last two sections of the videos and do one last quiz. Patricio was kind enough to get my stuff ready and carry them to the boat while i was busy with my studies. Ones again, I had to squees in to the wet suit, hard work especially over the behind:) Today a guy called Julian joined me and Patricio, he was doing his dive master cert (becoming an instructor) so he was going to instruct me on some of todays exercises as part of his certification. I wasn't to over exited when i was informed on what we would do in the water today. I would have to take off my mask and swim without it under water, lose my regulator, swap and breath with Julians "spare" regulator and some other stuff, of course all this was done under water. Wasn't to bad in the end and i managed all exercises on first try. We practised everything we had to practice on the first dive this day so on the dive after lunch we just dived. Todays dives 12 meter/45 minutes and 16 meters/35 minutes. I still didn't feel 100% comfy today in the beginning of each dive but felt ok after a couple of minutes.
Day three was another 8 am start, we got the equipment ready and i was told that we only had two things on the agenda today during the dives. How to use a compass and what i need to know about going under water with only a snorkel. After the dives it was also the theoretical stuff, reading a dive planner and the exam... The dive with the compass was simple but we had some misunderstandings when it came to clearing the snorkel a certain way but when that was cleared up, all was good. Today i felt good from the start and the breathing under water felt natural. Did have an incident though were Patricio had to save me since i started to float to the surface and nothing i did seemed to help.... Both the dives today was at 18 meters and 40 minutes each.
After the dives on the last day, Patricio tried to teach me how to read the dive planner. I say try because this was something that just wouldn't stick in my head, it didn't matter how much he explained, i just didn't get it. At one point i seen his lips move but what ever he was saying just went in to one ear and out the other. Then it was time for the exam. I got eight answers wrong, three of them was about this dive planner. You are allowed to have 12 mistakes so I now have my open water diver certification:)
PS: It was surprisingly bright under the surface, even when we got down to 18 meters so i had nothing to be nervous about. If i would do the next level which is the advanced dive cert then i have to do a night dive, not sure if i could handle that.....
I paid COP 750000/ EUR 212/ USD 238
Six dives, all literature required, all equipment required during the dives, light lunch, water, coffee and lots and lots of fun.
The three days are intense, 8 am start and boat leaves around 9 am, we normally came back around 230 pm.
I decided that it was time for a career break. So handed in my notice to the company who I worked with for the last ten years. It's time to pack my bag and depart from Amsterdam which been my home town for the last 4.5 years. -"Amsterdam, it's not you it's me and I need a break!". Read more
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