Now, I’m going to talk about this adventure sport even if it seems a little different from the culture and travel discussions in past blog entries. However, this is an activity you can learn in Chicago. Moreover, I think it has the potential to influence my travel in the future.
This past weekend, I went scuba diving for the first time I went with a group to Bensenville Pool to take a taster lesson with Learn Scuba Chicago. We had a 30 minute orientation about the equipment and what we would do in the water. We were going to go through skills like clearing the regulator (the mouthpiece) and clearing goggles. I was a bit nervous since this was completely new to me. I had never even tried snorkeling. I did swim in high school, though I was the worst summer on the team by far. However, I was the only one who seemed to actually enjoy it. I think the enjoyment of swimming may be inversely proportional to your ability at it.
Well, I got suited up in our flippers, goggles, and weight belts and hopped in the pool. I put on my vest with tanks in the pool since it’s a lot easier to do that way. The first thing I was set to do was to breathe using the regulator and practiced swimming around snorkeling. At first, I was really anxious since it didn’t feel like I was getting enough air. Now, I’m used to breathing through my mouth because of swimming and wood instruments. Pretty quickly, I learned pretty quickly that I had to work to expel all the air in my chest and take deep breaths. And then problem solved.
After a bit of time swimming on the surface, an instructor slowly brought my down to the bottom of the pool. As you descend, one of the problems that you can face is the pressure in your ears. Holding one’s nose and blowing out can help equalize it. After a slow descent, I finally reached the bottom. Another instructor had me do the requisite skills of clearing the regulator, clearing my goggles, and locating my regulator (if it gets knocked out of my mouth).
And then I was off to explore the bottom of the pool. It was brilliant. It was a wondrous new world in that turquoise colored pool. It was fairly silent and peaceful (well, as peaceful as you could be in a pool with twelve other people). I loved the freedom of flipping over, diving down, swimming anywhere I wanted. Before my options were limited to the surface of the pool, now the entire pool was a possibility. We could throw these rocket ship shaped darts or Frisbees to other people. My ears were a bit problematic with it all but it helped to push up a few feet into the water to relax the pressure. Eventually, it was time to go and it was really hard to bring myself to leave the freedom of the water.
So I have the bug. I am thinking about getting certified so I could scuba dive in places like Cozumel or other exotic places with amazing wildlife. So we’ll see what I can find that works for me. Anyway, if you haven’t had a chance to try scuba diving, check it out. It’s pretty swell.
And it seems appropriate that the very next day I saw my favorite living photographer Paul Nicklen who frequently uses scuba gear. Stay tuned.