Thursday, October 27, 2011

i wanna hold your hand

A couple of the boys in my class have *ahem* difficulty walking in a line quietly in the corridors.  I will do the teacher thing where I stop the line, give them my teacher look (glare) and ask 'Do you need to hold my hand?'  They'll usually shake their head no, and them I give them a further warning; 'Cause if you don't stop, you'll be up here holding my hand like a little baby.'  The boys do not want to walk hand in hand with their teacher down the hallway.  How uncool is that for a 6 year old?

But this weekend, I had to hold someone's hand.

I went diving with my university's underwater society (Diving Club) in Fethiye.  I was a little anxious to go with this club because sometimes my Turkish is not quite good enough to work at an English-medium university, if you know what I'm saying.  I thought I might be the lonely yabanci in the corner while all of the conversations and fun were happening in Turkish.  So not the case.  These lovely Turkish university students were so unbelievably kind towards me...translating not only announcements and instructions but also talking to me, and making sure that most conversations were in English so I could partipate.  It was great.

Fethiye Marina: View from the breakfast buffet on the balcony of our hotel.
That said, I was a little rattled when I first started to get ready for diving.  I had only dove in one location, and spent three days there getting my license.  My friend  and diving instructor and the lovely crew at Derin Diving Center in Tekirova, Antalya showed me where the diving gear was, helped me find stuff that fit me and waited patiently while I put it on.  And then waited even more patiently while I took my sweet time getting up the nerve to jump off the boat.

Proteus Diving Center boat
This was not quite the case on the boat in Fethiye.  It felt like a free-for-all, with about ten divers all grabbing for gear and scrambling to put it on.  I was really stressed out as I looked for fins that fit, and had to take a larger size wetsuit thanks to my larger sized ass.  In all the commotion, I forgot how to assemble my tank, BC and regulator, I started to do it, but then just wanted a little bit of attention to make sure I was getting it right.  No one wants to discover they screwed up their air supply once they're in the water, am I right?  Then I realised that I didn't have a mask.  A member of the university dive club gets me one but then the dive master says it's the wrong kind.  Then I spit in the mask (to make sure it doesn't fog up) but I can't find the bucket of water to clean the spit off of it, so I have to ask for help again.  I'm so rattled that I can't jump off the boat.  I must have tried to step off like 5 times but I couldn't make myself do it.  I finally end up in the water with my dive instructor waiting for me.  He's not very impressed with my performance and asks 'How many men usually help you get ready before you get in the water?'  (This is an unfair point because there's only one female diver besides me).  So now I'm even more upset.

Tank, check! BC, check! Regulators, check!  Getting my equipment ready to go!
I want to go back to Tekirova, where everyone knows me and I know where everything is.  See, I actually am a good diver.  My dive instructor in Tekirova said that I have natural buoyancy, good finning technique and look like I've been diving for ten years. He said I could easily be photographed for a diving magazine.  Yes, I am THAT good.  So why was I sucking so bad in Fethiye?

I'm so rattled that I don't put my mask on properly.  Water immediately starts to seep in, and I need to expell the water from my mask, as I've done dozen of times before.  But this time, while 18 metres below the surface, I somehow suck a bunch of water into my mouth.  I try to spit it out the regulator but it's not getting out fast enough.  So I panic, and bolt.  I start to fin as fast as I can towards surface, and inflate my BC as I go.  I'm gasping as I reach the surface, and float there, gasping and crying until my dive instructor comes up for me.

Now, I have had fairly instense training to get my diving lisence.  I know how to take my regulator out of my mouth, for goodness sake, and share air supply with another diver.  I can take off all my equipment underwater and put it back on again.  I've done it all several times.  I know that I can spit, or even vomit into a regulator and that it's just going to filter the water, spit and vomit out and keep giving me oxygen.  I know all this.  But when you panic, you just can't think about these things...

Bil Underwater Society.  Please note the gorgeous MODEL of a Turkish man next to me.  Could be in a cologne ad. Sigh.

So, my diving instructor kindly tells me that he's going to be my 'boyfriend-but just in the water' and will hold my hand when I feel scared.  I consider myself to be a fairly independent woman...I move to foreign countries solo, and have travelled alone...I think I'm pretty brave for a country girl coming from the outskirts of a little town in Canada.  I actually let him hold my hand for the next two dives...just like a discovery diver, certainly not like a diver with a license should.  I know it's a little lame and I should have probably tried to dive without grasping my instructor but sometimes it's just nice to have someone holding your hand.

Diving girls!  My lovely roomate and I had a blast on the trip!