Under the sea, life is much better down where its wetter…

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I put my head under the water, slowly, nervously. I took a deep breath in and then out came the bubbles floating to the surface. In front of me a pair of eyes was looking deep into my own, searching for answers. Is she ok? Is she panicking? My head broke the surface and out came my regulator. ‘How was it?’ ‘Strange, very strange!’

Ever since snorkelling in the Red Sea I had wanted to start exploring the underwater world. I wanted to relive my days as a mermaid, with little Nemo’s waving hello to me with their fins, giant parrot fish gliding past me and shoals of squid guiding my way. Scuba diving seemed the best way to be able to go on this journey. I have watched many documentaries about people diving and they appear so elegant underwater, like ballerinas, their fins gracefully pushing them through the endless expanse of blue. My reality was very different from the performances I had seen on TV. My first time diving in the sea I was more like an underwater clown than a graceful water ballerina. I jumped up and down and spun around, clumsily failing to keep my buoyancy controlled. The fish seemed more like a hazard than new friends, in the way of this out of control want-to-be mermaid. However, after a few deep breaths to calm the nerves, and some hand signals from my instructor, I managed to gain some composure and was finally able to propel myself through the water like the professionals. Well, I like to think I looked like a professional, the reality of that is probably very different. Everything was going swimmingly (no pun intended) and I said hello with a little nod of my head to the sea cucumbers, seahorses and to the lion fish, who I thankfully managed to keep my distance from. Time seems to pass very quickly under water and before I had a chance to start feeling relaxed and enjoying being in the new world I had jumped into it was time to resurface to the world from which I had escaped. On the surface I went back to being like a child immersed in water who doesn’t know how to swim. Trying to simulate emergency situations, blowing up a BCD manually with waves crashing over my head and weights pulling me down to the sea floor, is not easy. Somehow I managed to keep myself alive however death by drowning did start to feel very real at one point. But, like learning any new skill, all it takes is practice. So I powered through the course, nervously I admit, until on my fourth dive I had mastered all the actions I needed to perform in order to gain my certificate and I spent the last dive floating in the underwater world with my new marine friends. Sitting on the speedboat on the way back to land, the sun drying my skin, I felt a huge sense of relief that it was over, that I had managed to make it through the past four days without drowning and that I didn’t quit, even when I felt, quite literally, out of my depth. ‘We have a new PADI member everyone,’ shouted the dive master to my fellow scuba divers, ‘well done Mikaela, she’s a good fighter.’

‘Yes,’ I thought ‘I sure am.’

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