One of the toughest things I have ever done is get Open Water Certified. Not Discover SCUBA Diving. Not SNUBA. Full on PADI Open Water Certified. I chose to go through the 5-day process in Indonesia this past trip whilst residing at my favorite hotel on Bali, Lotus Bungalow. They happen to have a brand new dive center there called Gangga Divers that was calling my name and I was determined to strike it off my ever-growing to do list no matter what it took.
I went with them because I knew it wouldn't be some kind of chop-shop, it'd more of a one-on-one. Which was exactly what I got. I gotta tell you, it wasn't most def. not easy. The focus required to retain the almost 300 page manual is wildly intense and covers all sorts of terminology you've never even dreamed of uttering: ata's, bars, BCD, etc... Huh?? Well, of course, I came to know it all after 5 grueling days of studying, tests, videos, pool dives and open water dives.
Now, imagine being on the bottom of the ocean floor and having to take off your mask, then put it back on AND THEN EMPTY IT OF WATER. When I first heard this one, I was like w-t-f? Are you kidding me? But, dontcha know it, on my 4th Open Water dive, I whipped that mofo off, put it back on and emptied it in about :30 seconds.
I also fell in love with navigating underwater with a compass, learned all the equipment inside and out, straight up mastered neutral buoyancy and a learned a zillion other things that make me feel like more of a badass than I ever thought possible...
I also happened to being frolicking about gazing at fishies and coral only to get a rap on the tank from my dive buddy/instructor...I thought he was alerting me that maybe a pretty starfish was floating nearby or a shark was somewhere in the distance. Oh but no...when I flipped around, a full friggin' SUBMARINE was gurgling by. Holy moly. Now, things look 33% bigger underwater, so you can imagine my horror/delight.
Oh, and imagine the time when a thunderstorm came out of nowhere while we were underwater and it was a bloody hurricane down there. If I wasn't sandwiched between my 2 buds, I would have been halfway to China in no time. Weirdly, though, it is so much more peaceful underwater...and I felt totally secure at all times. It's when you're bobbing around on top that you start to panic a bit.
As for Gangga, there could not have been a more ideal place to learn to dive. It's the perfect atmosphere to absorb exactly what the hell the makings of a SCUBA diver are. I cannot imagine doing this sort of thing with 20 other people. I just dig the personal attention and with a view like the one from Lotus (and some of that caramel flavored rum the kitchen doles out to help the book go down), well it was money well spent.
I'm already plotting the next levels of PADI. But, this time...maybe Honduras? Maybe Belize? And, I hate to say it, but snorkeling never seemed so unsavory.