Ethan and Marika love adventure. The boyfriend/girlfriend couple have traveled to New Zealand and Jamaica together, backpacked in Oregon and Colorado and have road-tripped all over the Western United States- visiting numerous National Parks.
Their most recent journey takes them all the way to Thailand where they are teaching English abroad.
GeoVisions thought it would be fun to have both Ethan and Marika both blog about the same experience- a sort of his and hers take. Topic was totally up to them. They chose a recent scuba diving experience they had in Thailand. Ladies first- here’s Marika!
In the three years we’ve been dating, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard Ethan vividly and passionately describe the world below the ocean waves and how he feels every time he scuba dives down there. I’ve always enjoyed listening to these stories and descriptions, but had never really considered it as something I might want to try myself. He’s the first person I’ve been close to who scuba dives, and it had just never been on my radar as something that would apply to me. He made no secret of it that he really wanted me to try it out, sure I would absolutely love it, and I made no secret of it there were no fewer than eight reasons why the prospect terrified me. Suppose my tank and regulator stopped working? What if I couldn’t equalize the pressure in my ears? What if a current carried me away? How scary it must feel to have all that water pushing down on you. How disorienting to have nothing but blue surrounding you in all directions. What if I accidentally cut myself on a piece of coral or rock and the blood attracted sharks? I get seasick very easily, and what if I threw up into my regulator? Or, my worst fear of all, what if I was swimming near some rocks and a current pushed me into the rock and an eel bit me? Yes, eels are a big worry of mine. The reasons piled on themselves, fresh ones always ready to rise to the surface as soon as I gave voice to one. Ethan didn’t push, and we remained at this stalemate. Until last week.
As we laid our plans for this trip to Thailand for teaching English abroad, we decided to give ourselves about 10 days of vacation time prior to the start of orientation and TESOL training. Ethan found Oceansound Dive & Yoga on the island of Ko Tao, and we thought that sounded like the perfect blend of both our interests, minus the diving for me. Ethan planned to complete his Advanced Diver certification, and dropped hints a few times that I might want to take an Open Water course and get scuba certified. Initially, I declined with assurance- scuba was something I would try later, when I was mentally ready. Then it dawned on me, without any real instigation or reason- there are always plenty of reasons not to do something, and I was making excuses. Here we were, about to travel to one of the best places in the world to learn scuba, and I realized how silly it would be to pass up something incredible that a place has to offer. This realization, of course, has infinite applications when traveling.
I enrolled in an Open Water course, and immediately felt at home with my classmates, who shared most of my fears (barring perhaps the eel one). Like me, they had also been under pressure from significant others to do this, but don’t wonderful significant others push us to expand the boundaries of our comfort and experience? We all agreed we were glad our arms had been twisted. Our wonderful instructor, Jo, a sassy and lively Scottish woman, lead us effortlessly through the class and one by one my fears were assuaged. The final day of the class we had our last two certification dives, and despite the beauty of the dive site and the variety of creatures we were able to drop in on, my ears gave me quite a bit of trouble in the equalization arena. I made it down eventually and completed both dives, but not without quite a bit of frustration and pain in my ears. It was exactly what I had feared would happen to me, and the realization of this fear tainted the celebration of my certification. Furthermore, I knew how much it would mean to Ethan if I loved scuba as much as he does, and that experience left me doubting if I could ever really love it.
The funny thing about having one’s exact fears realized is that fear then loses some of its power over you. For me, fears derive a lot of their power from the unknowable aspect of them- you can imagine how terrible it would be if this happened, but you don’t really know. I’ve found, though, that once that fear comes true, however much it turns out to suck, you then know what it’s like and become empowered to deal with it and move on. I knew that if I didn’t get back on the horse soon, the memory of that frustration would only fester and grow over time, so a few days later Ethan and I went out for a couple of fun dives at the same site. I was greatly relieved to find this time things went much better, and that perhaps patience was all that was called for. There’s nothing else in the world like being suspended, a miniscule weightless speck in the vastness of the ocean, dropping in on life we could only see in an aquarium, and I know a true love for scuba is dawning on my horizon.
Be sure to check back on Tuesday for Ethan’s take on scuba diving while teaching English abroad in Thailand. In the meantime, watch this amazing video they made of their trip on Ko Tao Island!