After years of being afraid of scuba diving, I finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. Dad, Tom, and Tim have all been certified for a while. Mom and I always find other things to do when they go. They have been begging us to get certified. My excuses? I like being ABOVE the water; not under it. I like being able to surface whenever necessary. I am afraid my ears won't equalize. I'm afraid I'll forget to breath right and get whatever they call it "the bends" or worse some serious lung problem. And a long line of "what ifs" that probably only happen in super freak accidents… But with the family coming to visit, dad really wanted all of us to be able to go together. Even Mom got certified.
So… I did it! And… I loved it!!! Through a friend I found a great deal at the Sandals resorts down here. (I know, Sandals, keep your comments…) I took the class with a fellow volunteer. Our instructors were amazing and very thorough. I made it through all the pool skills, surprisingly. Then we had our open water dives. I was nervous, but before I knew it we were at 35 feet and my ears were fine and I was fine… and it was soooo cool!
On our first dive we went to a reef just below Anse La Raye called Anse Kochon (bay of pigs, I believe). I have snorkeled there before, but I quickly learned that snorkeling and scuba are so different. Instead of looking down from above, I found myself swimming IN the schools of fish and looking at coral and creatures from all angles! Towards the end of our first dive we rode a little current out around the tip of the little reef. Suddenly, I couldn't find my Peace Corps scuba buddy! I looked around, even swam around a big rock, and he was nowhere! I looked at our guide and shrugged with my hands up like "I don't know where he went!" I was just thinking, "what a terrible scuba buddy I am! I lost my buddy!" when a sea turtle swam right beneath us! He was so cute! The guide tapped his tank for the other groups to come over so we could all admire… never mind my lost buddy. Then he looked at me and pointed up. I looked and sure enough there was my buddy, at the surface! I forgot about looking up!! That's a new dimension when looking for people… oops! We surfaced and it turns out my buddy had buoyancy issues. His empty tank gave him more buoyancy toward the end of the dive and he couldn't help but float up! Too bad for him, because he missed the sea turtle!
On our second dive we got to see a puffer fish puff up for us! And for our 3rd dive we got to go down 60ft to a shipwreck! It was covered in coral and there were fish all around. We even swam inside! I was so excited and happy on each dive. I'm certain that if I could have talked underwater, the fish would have been annoyed, because I was just so amazed and so excited about EVERYTHING! I am so glad I did it and now feel as though I've been missing out for years! And how cool that I got to do this in St. Lucia, with Sandals nonetheless… they provided free snacks by the way! Peace Corps Volunteers LOVE free snacks!
My scuba certification was just in time for the arrival of my family less than a week later. In the last days before their arrival I could hardly contain my excitement. On Saturday I rode down to the airport with the car rental pick up. We arrived about an hour early, but I was too antsy to sit in the taxi. Sometimes flights come in early so I crossed my fingers… and I stood… for an hour… and a half! Waiting! I kept asking people which flights they came from. The anticipation was brutal! Finally I saw Mom, Dad, and Tim come through the doors. I ran to them and got a great big hug from Tim, and Mom, and then Dad! I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. Mom had us all line up for a picture. Just as she was snapping the photo, I felt a brotherly tap on my head. I turned around and there were Tom and his fiancé Brynn!!! They surprised me! Not 2 days before Tom had been telling me how busy he and Brynn were and how much he wished he could go scuba diving. The rascal! I was so excited to have them and so excited to finally meet Brynn!
We had a great week together jam packed full with activity. It was a balance of "let-me-show-you-where-I-live-and-what-I-do" and "enjoy-family-and-have-crazy-fun" time. We got to go zip lining in the rain forest, drive around the island, get pictures with the famous Pitons, eat tons of delicious local dishes, bread and seafood, explore several different beaches, snorkel, sail, hang out with all the Peace Corps staff and volunteers for the 4th of July, visit my schools, deliver some chess sets, meet my local hiking friends, go cliff jumping, shop in the market, drink all the different fruit juices, and go scuba diving!! It was amazing. I was overjoyed to have them be a part of my experience here and overwhelmed to be with such an incredible family. I feel proud of how strong we are and how much we grow and change as time flies by. It was a whirlwind week and I think we exhausted ourselves (so much for vacation!). It was tough to see everyone off, but what a great time we had.
In just 1.5 months I'll be in Texas with the WHOLE family for Tom and Brynn's wedding. Three months later I'll be home for Christmas. And then 4 months later I'll be home for good. I can hardly believe I've been here almost a year and a half. It is all flying by so fast.
Blessings to you all. Would love to hear from you,