MY FIRST EXPERIENCE
IT TOOK PLACE IN THE DISTANT 2011
Today the number of dives in my log-book outreached a hundred and I decided to share with you the story of my first one.

It took place in the distant 2011. My future ex-wife and I came to the small Indonesian island of Gili Trawangan. We stopped at a wonderful hotel Vila Ombak (that I strongly recommend you). During the registration procedure we were invited to the Vila Ombak Diving Academy which still operates on the territory of this hotel.

To be honest, at that time, diving seemed to me something dangerous: after all, the "Jaws" by Steven Spielberg and, well, there is no denying it, Ursula from the "Little Mermaid", too, made me feel afraid of the unexplored and full of dangers underwater world.

Therefore, I was not in a hurry to take an invitation to the Diving Academy.

So, four of the seven days, that we had booked rooms at Vila Ombak for, passed. Probably, that would be it, if only I failed to catch a sight of several sets of equipment near the children's pool on the hotel grounds with an intensely gesticulating instructor next to them explaining something to a married couple of respectable age.

I slowed down. Like many people of my generation, in childhood I used to eagerly wait for Sunday on a par with the next release of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau: so interested I was in where the omnipresent Calypso would end up this time.

And then curiosity took over me. Overcoming fear, restraint and severe pain caused by otitis in the right ear I approached him. "May I try?" - I asked the instructor. "Of course! We have just started a lesson! " - he replied. - "Join us!".

The instructor's English was far from good. However, he more than compensated any linguistic gaps with pantomime which, I must admit, the guy was really great at. The ongoing seemed to be more like a performance in a pantomime theater where according to a strange scenario the main character could only say one phrase: "Find your balance." It was easy to guess that he was talking about the balance between the weight belt and the amount of air in the jacket as the guy used pantomime so fluently that he was able to explain not only the Darwin's theory of evolution but also the principle of hadron collider operation. But how and why I had to gain the abovementioned balance remained a mystery for me.

"Find your balance", "find your balance", "find your balance" our instructor went on with his favorite phrase.

"Okay?" - he asked with a friendly smile, making an appropriate gesture with his right hand.

"Okay!" – I answered awkwardly with the same gesture.

A couple of assistants put on me an unrealistically heavy belt and a BCD with an air tank already hanging on it. At that moment, I thought that the diving equipment was very cumbersome and uncomfortable.

They led me to the shallow part of the pool, handed me a mask and helped me to put on fins.

"Try to breathe through the regulator!" - the instructor said. I took a few breaths.

"Okay?" - he asked me again.

"Okay!" - I answered with the gesture that I already got used to.

He turned his thumb down and led me to the deep part of the pool.

The depth of the pool was not more than 1.5 meters, so, with the height of 1.86 I could even manage to keep my hair from getting wet, but the instructor suggested that I put my face in the water and breathe. At that moment, I felt myself being a part of a secret military experiment. It was fun, interesting and a bit freaky.

After making sure that I did not experience any breathing problems, the instructor explained to me the principle of the operation of the inflator (one button fills the BCD with air from the cylinder, the other blows it off) and suggested that we swim under the water.

Scary and curious. How to act? Take from Morpheus the blue pill and stay forever on the coast, or take the red one and find out how deep the rabbit hole goes... And I let the air out of my jacket.

As soon as I got to the bottom of the pool, I understood what balance the instructor had been telling me about. After a couple of minutes of struggles I found that particular balance and felt that I was overflowing with a sense of delight. I managed to gain such a position in the water so that on inhalation my body would begin to float and with exhalation - to sink.

Inhalation - emersion. Exhalation - immersion. Inhalation - emersion. WEIGHTLESSNESS!!! Probably, that is what cosmonauts experience at the orbital stations, I thought. And then ... The swing of fins and the real flight!!!

It was a wonderful feeling. Many people dream of learning to fly. It turns out to be so simple...

The pool was very small. Maybe 2x2 meters. Given the fact that children almost constantly splashed in it with different toys and buckets for sand, the water wasn't very clean, but I didn't care! At that moment, I was really happy!

I don't know how much time I spent underwater. But every second of this sensation costs a year of life on the surface.

When the instructor interrupted my flight, I got out of the water with a sense of happiness.

My first intention was to share my enthusiasm with someone else. I went to my wife, persuaded her to come to the pool and try it herself. When a few minutes later she came out of the water with exactly the same expression of delight on her face, there was no doubt! We signed up for a trial dive in the open water.

My first dive in the ocean took place the very next day. During it I experienced the same feelings that were even reinforced by the stunning beauty of the underwater world.

And at that moment I realized that I was hopelessly sick. And my diagnosis is diving!

Dmitriy
Creative Director at Life Is Dive