(me diving in 1975)
In my last post, I mentioned that I made much scuba diving in the past. Versions Célestes -one of the very few magical writers I have ever read, still don’t know if IT is a he or a she though ) wrote in the comments thread
“… would like to read about your scuba diving experiences. All those feelings and sensations…”
I decided to jump on this occasion to tell you about my former life under the sea, as it is one of the most exciting times of my past. Shortly: I was totally addicted to diving and spent 2 summers under the sea, around the years 1975/1976. I was down there every morning, every afternoon, and even in the night sometimes!
I was a mathematics/physics student in Germany at that time, and I had had the immense luck that a physics student, who spent his holidays as a diving teacher, in Spain and in Thailand, had a sweet tooth (no, not a sharks’ tooth!) for me. Needless to say that I was allowed to dive in Spain as much as I wanted, for free. Of course, as a student, I could have never offered it to myself as a single dive already cost a lot of money.
In these 2 summers, I made about 300 dives if I remember well. The learning phase was short, I was used to water since I was a baby and felt extremely comfortable in that element, even deep under the surface. In fact, I will find out, with each new dive, the deeper the better! Much better than on the earth’s surface anyway! One of the reasons being that at that time I was quite a wild thing, and I especially hated to speak, or at least I hated the mundane conversations (I haven’t changed much on this point, I must admit, but I am more ready to do compromises…). The language we used underwater, with the hand signs, was totally adapted to the situations and to my character. No superficial or useless or empty words, no lies, I loved it!
As I said, I spent all my time under water. And while I was under water I learnt very fast not to breathe too much, to avoid consuming too much air and be forced to come back to the surface . I really started to breathe as little as possible, and was of course always the last, with my diving teacher, to come back to the boat. I had the chance not to know panic underwater, and I was well able to control my emotions (which were big!), which mean that the quantity of air available to me in these little bottles lasted for almost an hour every time.. where most of the divers had to come up after half an hour down.
Yes, it was a great life down there. I loved to watch the fishes, I loved the vegetation, I loved the bubbles, I loved the silence, I loved the deep blue. I was never confronted with what they call the depth ivresse – Nitrogen Narcosis - although I reached the 50 meters depth. I loved the adventure, the water all around, the feeling to live something very special, not granted to many people, and certainly not at my age. I have wonderful memories of that time, but the most impressive are from the night diving. I remember the very first one… I was so incredibly excited. We left the town about midnight on the boat, about 10 creatures all in black walking across the beach to the boat… we must have looked weird, really! It was thundering that night, and I remember seeing my parents, on their balcony of their seafront apartment on the 9th floor, watching the boat leaving the coast and disappearing in the night under the thunder and lightning, and loaded with these sea riders.. I knew they were scared to death… I was not!
I will tell you what happened then. I think it as the first time I really felt fear underwater. As we reached the reef where we normally dived, about 3 kilometres from the coast, we somersaulted backwards into the dark water, I swam vertically down to the point where I should meet the 2 other divers of my group, as we would all be tied to each other with ropes for the duration of the dive, to avoid the danger of losing each other, as we would most of the time dive in total darkness, saving the lamp batteries so that they could last a certain time and be available in case of immediate danger.
As I arrived at the meeting point, about 25 meters under water, I suddenly noticed that my air regulator did not work. Instead of air I got water in my mouth! I carefully tried again to aspire some air, and again I got water. Now you must imagine, in the middle of the night, in the total darkness under water, at 25 meters, for the first time in my life, no air in my lungs and a mouth full of water! Yes, I felt fear, but at least I didn’t panic and I guess this saved my life. I rapidly swam up and arrived at the surface totally out of breath, ready to die! But well, I had some tiny little air reserves somewhere and I survived! I spent the rest of the time alone on the boat, in the middle of the sea under the storm, waiting for the divers to come up, and more than anything, totally frustrated that I could not dive!
But well, one week later, the club organised another night dive, and this time, everything went well and I could explore, fascinated, the night life of the sea, which in fact, was totally different and certainly much more active than the daily life!
and the best was: the lumumba (hot chocolate and cognac!) after the diving, at 2 in the night, on a Café terrace!
Because one thing I can tell you I didn’t like at all by diving: I was always freezing!!! I was not very big, and it was not easy to find a diving suit to fit me. Often I had to dive with 2 suits, one on top of the other, and I was still freezing!!!
And if you ask me why I stopped diving: my teacher lost his sweet tooth… or was it me?
PS: in case somebody here is moaning that it is supposed to be a blog about Art and sport is taking the upper hand, I will post the only painting I ever did from underwater… it is called “Nemo”.