Instructing

Posted on October 8, 2018

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I’ve been itching to teach a full certification since I qualified. They say be careful what you wish for. Three days into my first week on Roatán I was handed a rescue student to train.

For me this is the first certification as a recreational diver, that pushes you towards becoming a pro diver. It’s an intensive three to four day course that teaches life support on land and in the water:

Delivering first aid, giving rescue breaths to a non responsive diver while stripping their gear off in the ocean and towing them before hauling them out of the sea and administering Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), putting an O2 tank together and if possible using an Automated External Defibrillator. It’s exhausting and rewarding. That’s how I felt when I did mine in 2015 in Hawaii. Now three years on I’m teaching it!

My student, a smart, young, female British graduate took everything we threw at her in her stride. My flatmate Peanut was assisting me as the “victim” in all our rescue scenarios. She is one fantastic drama queen. We made the exercises as realistic as possible but also so ridiculous to test our student, it was so much fun.

Grace passed with flying colours. Her search and rescue was tough, given the current, but she got it eventually. Like all students she needs to slow down and be more methodical. Slow is pro!

Two days later I met a student a 27 year old physiology from Colorado who is driving his motor bike across Latin America. He is also a medical volunteer. After learning I was an instructor he signed up for the Open Water (OW) certification. A natural and also a sky diver, so equipment management and assembling made complete sense to him. Probably has too much confidence and need to reign that it in a wee bit. Stop, think, listen and then act. But his enthusiasm was wonderful.

He aced all the exams and quizzes but the tropical depression that’s swept in scuppered his chances of finishing the certification with me, as he only had three days to play with, and we’ve been stranded on land.

Teaching confined water skills in the ocean have to be done in “pool like conditions”. Our bay right now resembles a washing machine being used with the door open. The waves are high and strong. Our captain has refused to take the boat out for open water dives too, so my manager (Mr FlipFlop) didn’t get to finish certifying his advance student either.

It’s no surprise then that my boy wonder didn’t finish OW in time. I was gutted as was he. He’s promised me to complete it if he passes through Belize en route home or at the very least, within the next 12 months, while all his skills and exams are still valid.

The last ten days have been fun getting to know my flat mates. Peanut is a riot. So much energy. She loves to go out and she is holding down two bar jobs as well as working here. She definitely has the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMA) gene.

The Canadian who’s arrived – our very own Laura Croft – a tiny thing and a tech diver. She’s my roommate. She sleeps in the bunk opposite, randomly she might get up in the middle of the night for a cigarette. Everyone has some quirk right? A vegetarian with a huge heart; quiet as a mouse and in bed at 8pm every night. Her food shopping and cooking skills need work. Actually understatement, they need rescuing. On the first night I watched her burn an egg and sandwich it between two pieces of dry bread. She loves food but she can’t cook for toffee.

Two days ago I made a veggie red Thai curry for us and also invited my student, boy wonder. The propane cylinder ran out of gas half way through cooking. Disaster. I was fuming. The rice hadn’t even been cooked. After ladling the curry into several bowls I finished each bowl off in the microwave and then cooked the rice in there too before that also packed up. Ayayaya! Crap utensils.

I made strawberry jelly that afternoon as dessert and post dinner watched them both slurp it through their teeth at the end of the meal. Ha!

The days are slow when we are not teaching but they still seem to fly by. I’m up at 0530 and in bed by 2100. I try to walk around 8km if I can each day and have been doing yoga solo in our apartment. I turn off the air con, close all the windows and build heat to have my own sweaty hot yoga studio. Some days it’s easier to get motivated than others. I miss group energy.

I’m happy here. I’m getting great nutrition in terms of food availability. Fresh veg and fruit. West End where we are based is effectively one long road. There’s no entertainment other than bars, which I avoid. At some point I still need to tick off sober dancing. Last night we watched Jaws. Lara Croft, at the ripe old age of 34, has never seen it, so we popped that cherry. There’s some classic lines in that film that I’d forgotten. Haven’t laughed so much in ages, was also interesting to see it now as a dive instructor with a completely new perspective.

I hope the weather will improve in the next few days so we can at least dive. The owners allow us to go for a dive for fun to get to know the sites when we don’t have customers. The reef is incredibly healthy. I do hope it will pick up though as I’m only here for another five weeks and I need students! In three days another instructor arrives. We have no info on her, so it’s with anticipation that we are waiting for her arrival….

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