Sunday, July 4, 2010

Scuba in Ibiza

When you think of Ibiza, I am sure diving isn't the first thing you think of. Parties, drinking, clubs, drinking, music, more drinking and many late nights come to mind. However, after living (mostly) dry and healthy in Marrakech for a year, we wanted something a little more substantial. Both Jeff and I regretted not visiting Ibiza (as well as Ireland, Croatia and Greece for me) while so close when living in London. So before saying goodbye to Morocco, a little break was in order before a bigger break in Canada for the summer.

We were sitting on the fence with regards to the scuba course. 4 days. Earlyish mornings. Hundreds of Euros. However, we arrived in San Antonio to the sound of drunken and annoying young northern Brits, to the sights of tattooed, pierced and sunburned teens and realised our time would be better spent exploring the open waters, rather than partying with people young enough to be our students.

The Arenal diving booth caught our eye. Colourful underwater pictures, friendly and flexible staff and a relaxed attitude sealed the deal. Our first step was getting passport pictures and a medical check. An unthought-of of extra. Then before we knew it we were introduced to our instructor, Moo, sitting in a classroom, watching diving DVD’s and taking multiple choice quizzes. The afternoon session saw us suiting up for the first time and breathing underwater in a hotel pool. With weights on our waists, fins on our feet, masks on our faces and regulators in our mouths, it was time to release the buoyancy control device and sink to the bottom of the pool. What a surreal experience. Your breathing gets deeper and slower and you try to stop yourself from holding your breath - a big no no in scuba.

After successfully completing our confined dives, it was time to try the open water dives off San Antonio bay. The first descent saw my mask flooding due to my seemingly irregular shaped head. A quick change of mask and constant sucking through my nose kept my mask from fully flooding. But by this time I had mastered the clearing the water out of the mask technique. We descended and the open water experience began. We took 2 dives that day, the first in Des Marguerites at a depth of 11.6m for 30minutes, where we got used to the buoyancy and explored without exercises or technique drills. During the second in Punta Galera to 11.2m for 34minutes we put our skills into practice by flooding and clearing our masks, using the octopus for out of air simulations, controlling buoyancy and weight removal. Our instructor Mo spotted an octopus in a crevice and I was lucky enough to touch its head and get my hand sucked by its tentacle.

That evening we headed back to the classroom for a 50 question test, with both of us passing successfully. The next day it was time to complete our course with two final open water dives. This time to Islia Avel to a depth of 17.9m for 36 minutes and then onto Torre for 38minutes to 11.8m. We completed all of our tasks, throwing our BCD's into the water first and then getting into them. We used snorkels and a compass to follow directions. A sea cucumber squirted sticky sperm on us and an Arenal Underwater Photographer took a liking to an octopus, kissing and caressing it, which made me laugh and swallow the salty water. Its head felt fragile like tissue paper and its tentacles as suctiony as a vacuum cleaner. We swam through a small cave, me a little apprehensive at first due to the lack of light. But after losing my inhibitions, the rest of the dive was smooth sailing. I felt comfortable and relaxed as we hugged the cliff wall, viewing blue coral and watching out for spiky sea urchins. We swam through the reeds amongst kissing fish and jelly fish.

Our confidence increased and our underwater skills soared. We were now certified Open Water Divers. We can't wait to explore the waters of Taiwan, with perhaps some diving in the Great Lakes in Canada over the summer. Mo recommended Okinawa off Japan for some great diving.

Our final day of diving was made even better by a gorgeous sunset on the rocks at Cafe Del Mar, a pre-party appearance by David Guetta at Mambo Bar and also a DJ set by Calvin Harris at Ibiza Rocks. So we did sneak in some drinking and music after all ;o)

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