Mad props to ScubaQuatic, the company that took us out on the dive and took the photos. They managed to dig up our shots and emailed them in batches over the course of a few days, in between dives and other administrative duties. Huzzah!
On a dive, a thumbs-up sign means that you want to surface. Instead, you give the "okay" sign to show excitement or just check in with your fellow divers.
In my head at that moment: "Where's Matt?" I had a really hard time thinking in three dimensions; when I got stuck between people and the reef, it took me a minute to realize I could just swim up.
AND THEN WE SAW A SEA TURTLE AHHHH!!!
Matt and me with the sea turtle. Mesmerized.
Somehow, I managed a shit-eating grin around my respirator. That's how excited I was.
To do a controlled surface, we all held each other's vests and the lead diver slowly guided us up. By contrast, we dove using a fixed line that was anchored to the sea floor. It had barnacles on it, which cracked me up for some reason.
My hand looks wonky because I was clutching a piece of dead coral and a shell I'd found on the seabed. I crushed the shell trying to climb back onto the boat, but the coral remained intact.
All in all, scuba diving was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. Right up there with skydiving, only I absolutely want to do this again and have no real desire to jump out of another plane.
Sure, I was a little nervous at first; you're not supposed to dive without a doctor's clearance if you are prone to fainting, asthma or panic attacks, as I am. But I lied on my forms and dove anyway, knowing that my asthma is mild and my panic attacks are controllable. The fainting is what made me most nervous, but we were only going about 10 or 12 meters down; not far enough to get decompression sickness if I suddenly thought I might faint and had to bail. (The vest itself inflates; my contingency plan was to just inflate it and shoot up to the surface.)
But it turns out my nerves were for nothing. After I overcame the initial fear of being 40 feet underwater--which only lasted long enough for me to get a good look at my surroundings--I was completely relaxed and set to explore. Matt had some issues, unfortunately; his ear wouldn't pop and he was nervous about damaging his ear drum, which led to him using up way too much oxygen in the first third of the dive. In fact, his air supply was the reason we surfaced when we did. You're supposed to end your dive when you get down to 700 PSI of air in your tank (from the initial 3,000 or so when you start). When we surfaced, Matt was down to just 200 PSI.
But in all, Matt enjoyed it too. I'm begging to get PADI certified; there's a center near our house that offers courses, and I think I have him just about convinced that we should definitely, absolutely add scuba to our list of ridiculously expensive hobbies. (It'll be right up there with rock climbing, scuba diving and in Matt's case, cycling.)
Have you scuba dived before? Any location recommendations that I should add to my bucket list?