discover scuba class photo: Dorothy Pefferle
scuba dive class photo: Dorothy Pefferle

putting on scuba gear

I was becoming more comfortable, but still not fully aware of my surroundings. I bumped into fins, kicked my family with my own, and fully body slammed one of the other two people on our dive with my tank and shoulder.


Family Dive, page 2

This was a new experience for all four of us. Learning to dive in Central Oregon includes open water dives into our lakes. As one who will barely get wet, even at the surface of the lake where the sun has taken the edge of chill from the water and left it so there is still a small bit of air left in my lungs after the cold knocks the rest of it from me when I jump in from the boat, the idea is just unpalatable. 

While running the dude ranch we were able to take vacations, but working in the time was challenging. These trips could never happen during the summer, our peak season at the ranch, when we were not able to stay away from home for any night except Wednesdays.  The rest of the year, we could manage a week or even two away. Never long enough to want to spend our vacation time taking an open water diving course. Besides, we might not even like it.

For this trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico, I found the perfect solution. It’s called “discover scuba,” a program where we could take a lesson in the morning, move to the pool, and be diving the reef in the afternoon. Once we had taken this abbreviated course, we could also dive in other locations as a “resort diver” with an instructor. This area on the Yucatan was a divers’ paradise, on the second largest barrier reef in the world.  But now, sitting at the bottom of the pool, I was dubious.  

Russ seemed so content in the water. We newbies moved with a stronger sense of up and down, much as we would on land or swimming on the water’s surface. Turning was either with feet down or like superman, belly down moving forward through the water. His upside-down figure, feet up head down, as he turned to watch us spoke of ease in this weightless world, a different sense of space and gravity. As I stayed under, trying to find neutral buoyancy and moving about, my anxiety slowly made way for comfort, and I was able to explore the experience. Finally, we left the pool and were ready for the reef.

As we headed out on the boat, I learned of the next fearful step. This style of boat requires a backward roll entry into the water. This means just what it sounds like: to get in the water, we would have to sit on the side of the boat and fall backwards. Neither my heart nor my stomach were happy to hear the news, and again I had to pretend this was ordinary for the benefit of the children. Happily, little Marlie would be lowered into the water, handed off from one instructor to another.

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