Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Finest Wilderness is Beneath the Waves (Part 2)

The weekend of the ocean dives occured a couple days before a typhoon slammed into Okinawa. However, we were given the green light to dive and I once again met with Jan and my dive-mates. This time, I was given a full-body wetsuit, since I almost froze in the pool during the contained dive, and, to my relief, a significantly smaller thank. Jan made a passing comment that anyone under 50 kg. ( or 110 lb.) required a smaller tank and elaborated that he had never met an American under 50 kg. (I withheld the tidbit that I am ethnically Hispanic, teehee).

Once we placed the gear in the boat and arrived at the dive spot called, I was geared up and pushed into the water. I mean that quite literally because Jan literally pushed me into the water. It was actually just a small nudge, but I found it hilarious. Nevertheless, my mirth was cut short as a series of issues began to unravel. I misjudged the circumference of my waist as my weight belt (which also adds weight for controlled buoyancy) began to slide down my hips and around my thighs making it difficult to tred water. Because of this issue, I removed my repirator to inform Jan that I was in trouble. This was a huge mistake! The waves slammed into me in all directions as I shouted, causing me to inhale water. I became exhausted in my struggle to tread and quickly lost my breath. Jan instructed me to swim to the boat and hold on to a side rope while he readjusted my weight belt. With the regulator back in my mouth, I was able to slow down my breathing and catch my breath. In retrospect, I should have dived down, hunched over and adjusted it myself, but whatever. Once that dilemma was over, it was time to dive down and check out the the underwater forest.
Okinawa has an amazing array of sea life from the ugly and harmless to the beautiful and deadly. During my descent, I watched a sea snake pass above me as I tried to hug shoo'ed fish that invaded my personal space. Within the first 10 minutes, I encountered the venomous Lion fish (a.k.a. scorpion fish; a.k.a. that fish with zebra stripes)! I learned from multiple aquarium visits to keep away, but it was fascinating to see the fish up close (as little as 10 feet) in its natural habitat. I also played with a large sea cucumber and and felt the underside of an extremely large starfish. Moreover, Jan guided us to the illustrious Blue Cave located in Maeda Point, where we performed our dive skills

Fact: 99.9% of monsters found in animes are based on real animals (source: Me) 
Even with my life hack jotted down into the deepest portions of my mind, I was unsure if my abilities as I begrudgingly looked up to check the distance to the surface; just in case. When it came to my turn, I slowly let water into my mask, closed my eyes to protect my contacts, and breathed to calm my nerves. Then, I took in a large breath and used my life hack to blow out the air through my nose. I opened my eyes slightly and realized that I cleared about half the mask. It was working! I took in another breath and cleared the rest. Suc-f&*%ing-cess! In another dive, it was required that I remove my mask, return it, and clear the mask. For this skill, I closed my eyes and began to remove my mask. This should have been effortless, but my mask snagged on to my hair making it difficult to remove. As I floated with my eye closed breathing into the regulator, I felt a hand on my leg. I opened by eyes in surprise, but closed them a split second later as I mentally cursed in the realization that I may have ruined my contacts. In my efforts to detangle my mask, I kicked causing me to slowly ascend. Jan brought me back down and I continued to detangle my mask. Once it was free, I place it back on my face and cleared my mask without realization. Bam! Later, I would perform other skills such as the Tired Diver's Tow, Controlled Emergency Ascend, Buddy Breathing, Regulator Recovery and compass skills, as well as a written test to complete my Open Water Diver certification.



  1. Hey,
    Not sure if I missed it but how much did this cost, if you don't mind me asking? Also, I know you didn't choose Okinawa but do you have an idea of how they place JETS in Okinawa?

    1. I believe this cost around $350 - 400 (I bought a mask from them). This was for the training and the two days of ocean diving.

      It's fairly random, but they seem to take into consideration that I put warm areas in my application. We had a lot of JET from Hawaii and I believe that was due to a sister state/prefecture relationship. Moreover, there were some that had family on Okinawa, either military or Japanese.