When to Jump
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

July 29, 2009

Diving in Pucusana

Diving in Pucusana

            Crack! The sound of my bosses rib breaking as he tries to perform a Kung Fu move on me. We were practicing the moves on the beach in the early morning mist of dawn in the small fishing village of Pucusana. More of exercise than anything else, yet as he surprised me and threw me into the sand his rib paid the price as he landed on my hip. Not the most stoic of moves on either part.

            Tomorrow he is to dive in front of 25 school children as well as the 7 rustic path students to a depth of 5m to collect organisms to educate them on what lives below the intertidal zone and how we can best conserve it…not anymore. “Chris, do you want to dive?” It has been 5 years since earning my open water and last time since I went down with a tank. The sport is simply too expensive to have as a hobby, especially as a struggling college student and now fresh to the postgraduate job market. It is also to be a solo dive and a collection dive, neither of which I’ve done. Somewhat dangerous when you put the three together, and the question arises, do you jump?

            “Sure, I’ll do it,” I find myself saying. In life there is inherent risk, and sometimes you have to take one. I know I will be calm and collected; I will force myself to do so. An opportunity comes but once in awhile I think to myself. Heading out to the dive spot, I find myself getting a bit nervous, moving outside my comfort zone. It is only natural I think and quickly review my dive education within my head. Only 5m I say to myself; not even enough to have to worry about a dive time or the bends, any of the real risks associated with diving. The only risks are those of getting tangled or stuck somewhere and self-composure.

            Before I know it, my gear is on and time to go with no turning back. As I jump into the water from the boat, I am greeted with the bitter cold winter Humboldt Current water entering my wetsuit. It doesn’t even register with my brain, as it is busy receiving signals from my arms and thoughts as I try to orient myself. As the little faces peer over the sides of the boats, I descend. I find myself entering another world…one I know exists, but have largely forgotten. The kelp swings back and forth with the strong current, fish look still within their own environment, a stark contrast to seeing them pulled out of the water as they flap and choke for life. Here, they have peace. Looking at my gages and getting my bearings, I suddenly realize my collection bag is nowhere in sight! I must have let go of it without thinking as I looked at my gage for air in my tank. I can’t go back to the surface empty handed! So I start grabbing what I can with my two hands. A handful of hermit crabs and snails and then a big crab! The kids will like that, but he has big claws and as I pluck him from a rock, he shows me he is not in favor of my idea by grabbing my thumb between his big pincers. It goes numb and I try not to think of the pain, the kids need this! Then I come across an even bigger crab; way cool but the sizes of the claws catch my eye. I grab it anyways and now enter a game of drifting back and forth with the current while trying to avoid the four claws of different sizes looking for my fingers.

            I spot a plastic tube on the ground and snatch it up placing the smaller crab inside the tube and the bigger pinned against the opening. Every so often a claw comes free grabs a finger and after prying it free, I gently try and put the claw back in the tube. Hands full, I snag a last urchin and head for the surface. My bag is floating 10m away and after depositing my find, I swim out to get it and go back down. This time I am far more relaxed, amazed at how diving is like riding a bike and can be extremely easy and enjoyable if the mind keeps control. Grabbing a few more specimens and enjoying the currents swell propelling me back and forth, I compare it to just five minutes ago fighting these small creatures of the sea while being tossed back and forth. I enjoy my last few minutes under water and ascend. 

            The kids enjoyed the show, my hands although chewed up, will heal and the jump was well worth it. I hope that next time I will be more composed and maybe if I ask the crabs permission first, they will be happy to come along for the ride.

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