It really doesn't feel like it, but I've been on Cozumel for a whole month now! I've been in Mexico for nearly 6 weeks! And I know you are all desperate to know what I've learned. Spoiler alert it's quite a bit and yet not that much…
So I'm actually here doing my divemaster, which is a fancy way of saying I've been diving, a LOT. Perfecting my skills and gaining experience, learning how to help other divers and instructors. In fact it's been a lot like being a TA. I thought those days were behind me, but I've spent a lot of time watching others teach and lead and assisting those who know far more than me; which, if I'm honest, is rather humbling. I forget how great those days were when I was 18 and in between college and University, I got to watch so many great teachers do what they do best without them trying to impress me or give me a good impression of the school. It was similar here, different teachers, different styles, some did things I don't agree with, others I'd aspire to be.
I learned more about our oceans, the amazing creatures in it, what's harming it, how we can save it. Hopefully I've inspired a few people to ditch the straws and reduce their plastics, perhaps even go vegan or vegetarian (well they say that now when I'm cooking all the meals and they happen to be vegan :P ). I've learnt that Cozumel does not have a lot of nudibranchs and I failed to find a single one, but I did find nurse sharks and eagle rays and turtles for days (even a poor 3 legged one). I even found out what those tiny invisible floating worms were, drum roll please...salps. possibly the most impressive macro life in the ocean; their digestion can lock carbon into pellets that sink! They live independently but work cooperatively to achieve a common goal, something for the students to aim for?
I've completed a few courses, other than my divemaster that is. I've added another specialty so I can risk my life a further 10m chasing beautiful fish. And it was during this I got to perform an experiment! My first in far too long, demonstrating pressure at depth. We took an empty glass bottle with a cork in (no prizes for guessing what was originally in it!) To 40m, before tapping the end with a banana. On the surface this would do nothing, but at 40m… still nothing. The cork was in too tight, but after a bit of manipulation… the cork was sucked in along with the banana right out of it's skin! It really was rather impressive. We also took a polystyrene cup down, which halved in size and a ping pong ball which at 23m collapsed in our hand! A pretty inventive way to teach pressure I think!
I also completed an Emergency First Response Instructor course, which means I can teach people first aid. I watched the recent debates of how mandatory it should be in the curriculum and I have to say I think it should be too, for the sake of a few days lives could be saved. It gives students a sense of Independence, they can help themselves or each other in an emergency. A truly rewarding class to take and indeed to teach. I'm very much looking forward to getting students qualified and perhaps even friends and colleagues. Which leads me into another Revelation…
I have a job, in London, in June!!! Yep, there's now an expiration date on my trip and no I'm not ready to evaluate my feelings on that yet. But it's a great job, with great people, for a good salary. Doing what I love.
I also learnt a few more things about myself, I definitely thought I had learnt everything, but it's good to always be aware of your ever changing self:
So after a wonderful month attempting to learn the culture the oceans and even a bit of the language, I'll be leaving the island in a few days and off on my own once again for the first time since my all American road trip! I'm becoming nervous again to go off on my own, but I know full well I'll fall in love with it all over again. But I will miss the people I've met here, the people I've worked with, lived with, laughed with. Just another day of me saying goodbye to great people, hopefully to meet again.
Until then I think I can squeeze one or two more dives in!