Honeymoon Day 4. — Murky water. The last thing a Scuba diver wants to find when he jumps into the ocean. So tell me why a contracted Scuba concessionaire, working with a hotel, would select a murky, although protected, stretch of reefs for a tourist dive?
Your guess is as good as mine. We were among a group of twenty or so who boarded the boat and pushed out to sea for a two-hour ride that included an hour of diving. Benches lined the deck of the boat. Piles of air tanks covered the deck. Every one had picked up swim fins, masks and a life vest on shore before boarding the boat. My stomach was tied in knots.
The roaring boat engine cut off, and the wanna-be divers, including Chad and me, stood up and formed a line to be given a tank of air. Once fitted with the harness and air tank, each person was escorted to the platform off the boat’s stern where he or she slipped into their fins and then dove or jumped into the gray-brown ocean. Waves lapped, gently rocking the long boat.
I let Chad go first so he could jump in and wait for me in the water. Hands shaking, I belted the harness, pulled my mask down and put the regulator in my mouth. I turned the valve on the air tank as I’d been taught to do during lessons, and jumped in.
Once in the water, Chad and I checked each other’s oxygen levels and then, he kicked down into the ocean world below us.
A contact lens wearer, my biggest concern was getting water in my mask, as I was afraid the water would wash the hard lenses off my eyes and I would lose them. I fiddled with my mask a minute, and then followed him under the surface after taking a big gulp of real air.
As my Scuba instructor had said, the first fear to conquer is to let yourself breath under water. It goes against everything you believe in! But I took a breath through the regulator in my mouth and fought off my growing claustrophobia.
Contrary to what I had expected, the underwater world was not pristine and clear. It looked as if whoever was in charge of the aquarium had gone on vacation. Chunks of algae floated in front of my face mask, and there were no fish in sight. I could barely make out the shadowy figures of the other divers kicking around with their fins.
I took another gulp of air as my claustrophobia grew. I gulped another. I did not seem to be pulling in any oxygen. The dark water pressed against me. I sucked on the regulator as I’d been taught, and sucked again. My heart beat against my ribs. Stars twinkled on at the edges of my vision. Why was there no air?
I jerked around, looking for Chad. I saw fins, kicking away from me. Again, I sucked in, but got no air. I tried again. The stars twinkled brighter. My throat closed up. My head pounded.
If I didn’t act quickly, I would pass out and die right here in the murky water off the Acapulco coast.
(Come back to check out part 9 on Wednesday and the finale on Friday, plus an update on future posts.).