Entry #11: My First Breath Underwater

Scuba diving travel journal

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I’ve never appreciated a single breath of air as much as I did in Koh Tao.

At first the air from the tank felt cold and foreign as it descended into my lungs. It made my mouth dry, and I grew incredibly thirsty.

Such irony, I thought, being thirsty underwater. I was surrounded by water but couldn’t drink any of it. What kind of torture was this?!

This was my first time breathing underwater, and my first time diving with an oxygen tank strapped to my back. I looked up to the surface from the bottom of the pool floor and couldn’t help but think about how unnatural this was. Humans are meant to survive on land.

Feeling anxious and skeptical, I completed my first day of scuba diving school in an outdoor pool.

I was told I’d be “shitting my pants” for my first dive in open ocean, but that I’d fall in love by the fourth plunge.

We all know there’s a whole other world beneath the surface of the sea. But we don’t fully grasp that fact until we see it. I saw hundreds of colorful fish surrounding beautiful coral reefs and felt the outside world disappear. For once, I left my worries behind. The deeper I dove, the farther away they seemed.

By the fourth dive, I was hooked on breathing. It felt insanely good to take a full breath of fresh air at 18 meters below the surface. The oxygen in my tank no longer felt dry nor did it leave me thirsty.

Each breath gave me life.

I loved filling up my lungs with as much air as they could possibly hold, knowing that the tank on my back held all the air I needed. Liter upon liter of precious breath, that tank allowed me to stay underwater. It allowed me to unlock a different side of the planet, one of which I had never experienced so closely.

I mastered my anxiety, but I have a long way to go to master my buoyancy. As you inhale your body rises, and when you exhale, you begin to sink.

Keeping your body leveled fully depends on your breathing. Exhale too quickly and you may find yourself sinking toward the coral. Breathe in too deeply and you may begin to rise toward the surface and away from your buddy.

I want to continue diving just to master this skill.

Guil and I are already talking about our next dive. The only problem is it’s not the most affordable of hobbies to pick up during a low-budget backpacking trip.

That and the fact that I’m still incredibly nervous to dive! I suppose the butterflies will fade with practice. It only took Guil four dives to feel comfortable underwater.

Let’s see how many it takes me.

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