when i was on my way to big cypress national preserve with the kids (on a friday), derek called and informed me that i was going on a scuba trip the following monday. i was hesitant at first. nervous. concerned about cost. and logistics. but in the end, i decided it was an opportunity i didn’t want to miss, so i agreed.
when monday rolled around, i packed up early and got on the road, back to the florida keys, to “island ventures stress free diving” in key largo, for my first scuba diving experience.
when i arrived, i was surprised to learn that i was the only diver that day, so my morning training lesson in the lagoon was one-on-one with their scuba instructor, george, who was amazing. patient, informative, funny, and encouraging.
after an hour or so of training, learning about my equipment and some emergency procedures, and maybe mildly panicking and almost backing out of the whole affair, i was ready for the open waters.
then i had about an hour and a half to kill before the boat departed, so i relaxed, had some lunch, instagrammed, and read a bit. please note how wonderful my keto lunch looks in the noon sun of the florida keys.
after a few snorkelers strolled in and the proper waivers and equipment was secured, we were off. i’m still a bit uncertain at this point, but i figured i could at least ride out to the reef and then just sit on the boat if i wanted to bail. that’s george, my instructor on the far left. me. then two pairs of snorkelers. and the boat captain “the wolfman” in the neon in the back. good times.
we rode out to molasses reef in john pennekamp state park. our first dive was in “the aquarium” which sounds promising. i wasn’t sure if i would feel comfortable enough to take my go pro, so i took this shot of me and my equipment, in case it was the only shot i got of the entire experience.
then, i discovered that george was going to bring a camera and would be documenting our underwater adventures. and, it turns out, my go pro only works up to like 30 feet. so, i was free to enjoy the beautiful scenery without worrying about capturing it on film. tape. megabytes. whatever.
once we were in the water and descending to the bottom, all of my anxiety disappeared. i stopped worrying about all of the technical stuff and just breathed and swam. and it was epic.
we saw sooooo many colorful fish and corals. the huge parrotfish were my favorite. and it was crazy to just be swimming alongside schools of fish that didn’t seem all that worried about my presence. i think i even saw a pufferfish, according to anna’s fish charts, but i couldn’t get george’s attention so he could take a pic.
we also saw some more epic sea life, like a spiny lobster, doing a bit of sparring with some local fish, several sharks, and barracuda. and an eel (not shown).
towards the end, we rolled up close and personal on this school of (i think) angelfish, and i tried to score a selfie with them, but they were swimming away too quickly.
for my final stunt, i was able to swim through a little tunnel in the rock. my last hurrah.
and then, in a flash, we were done. i’m definitely so glad i tried it. and didn’t bail. and i would for sure go again if i ever have the chance again.