Thursday, October 23, 2008

Below the Ocean

The waves bellowed and rolled past as I slowly let the air out of my vest and sank below the surface. I breathed in from the tank, held it, and let the bubbles float up before me like smoke from a chimney. Five meters down and all was well. Breathe in, hold, breathe out. Ten meters down is when the mask started to suck in. My mask sucked in and it felt like my eyes were sucking out. Down I went. The suck got worse. I tried to breathe out through my nose to equalize the pressure as I had been taught. My mask was too tight and no air came into my mask. Down I went. The pressure got worse and my eyes started to sting. I tried to breathe out again, forcing the air past the mask. Still nothing came out. I went down further and the suck got worse. I panicked.

I pulled off my mask and shot up to the surface, which is exactly what you are told not to do. My mouthpiece was still in my mouth, but for some reason, I forgot to breathe. I didn't take a breath until my head was above water, but even then I still just breathed from the tank.

After I came up, the other six people I was with shot up one by one. "Get on the boat," the guy who had taken me out said. I thought I was just going to get the mask situation taken care of, but when he went back down, I realized that I was done. I panicked, and he couldn't have a panicker under the water with him.

I sat on the boat and bobbed on the waves. A normal dive is 30 minutes, so I had some time. I never used to get seasick, but apparently seasickness is something I picked up in Korea. The boat rocked and my stomach rocked with it.

I looked off in the distance, watched the horizon. A flock of seagulls flew from toward the coast toward the boat. As they approached, one broke off. It was almost right up to the boat when I realized it wasn't a seagull at all, but a small falcon, about as tall as my forearm. I wondered what it was doing out here in the middle of the ocean. The only other person on the boat with me was the driver. He glanced at the bird as it flew over his shoulder and landed on the windshield right in front of him, not five feet from me. He didn't look the least surprised. It sat there for a moment before he shooed it off.

One by one, heads crept up out of the ocean. One by one, the awkwardly flopped themselves into the boat, shedding equipment. When the last one flopped, the boat turned toward the shore and we went in. I sat on the pier and let my stomach calm before we went out again. It was on the way home about 5 hours later than I finally looked at my eyes in the mirror. Someone could have easily mistaken my eyes for bloodshot, but that wasn't the case. One is still bloodshot 5 days later.



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