Buceo | Open Water Dives


buceo, diving, scuba, padi, lago ilopango, oceanicaKail and I completed our first two open water dives over the weekend at Lago Ilopango. We are now just two dives away from being certified open water divers!Diving in a lake is definitely different than “diving” in a pool. Or rather, the experience of breathing underwater, equalizing (to prevent pressure from building up in your ears), maintaining proper weighting/buoyancy, clearing your mask and doing everything else is very different and slightly more terrifying at 60+ feet underwater.buceo, diving, scuba, padi, lago ilopango, oceanicaKail contemplates whether his wetsuit is too revealing.Each of our two dives only lasted 20-25 minutes (20 minutes is the minimum amount of time for a dive to “count” for certification purposes). For our first dive, we were just getting used to being underwater — no practicing of skills. We dove near a couple small rock islands where the owner of Oceanica had placed some Virgin Mary statues underwater. There were also some small fish swimming around.It was pretty dark so visibility underwater wasn’t that great. Honestly, I was so distracted trying to make sure I was breathing/equalizing properly and trying to maintain appropriate buoyancy that I couldn’t fully appreciate what I was seeing. I know with more practice diving feels more natural and you don’t have to think about it anymore. I am not there yet, obvs.buceo, diving, scuba, padi, lago ilopango, oceanicaEquipo.For our second dive, we headed to a different part of the lake where there is a big mountain/rock formation/cliff-type thing underwater. This dive was meant to be part exploration and part skills practice: filling our masks halfway and clearing them, filling our masks completely and clearing them, losing and recovering our regulators and buoyancy control. Full disclosure: I did have a moment where I freaked out and wanted to go up to the surface.I was able to successfully fill my mask halfway and clear it, but when I filled it all the way and tried to clear it, I inhaled some water and started to cough. You can cough into your regulator — it’s not a big deal. But for some reason I felt like I couldn’t breathe and that made me feel panicked, which in turn made me breathe faster and feel like I really wasn’t getting enough air. So at that point I was like, Get me out of here! and I made the “go up” signal (a thumbs up).buceo, diving, scuba, padi, lago ilopango, oceanicaDavid, our instructor.Fortunately we have a very good instructor, David, who is great at calming you down to ensure you don’t inflate your vest and in a panic and shoot up to surface as fast as possible, which would cause serious health problems. So after a minute or so, during which I was insisting that I had to go up!, I calmed down and was able to keep it together for the rest of the dive.These two dives made me feel slightly less confident about being able to do everything in a real-life scenario (i.e. not a pool). Mostly because in a pool, you can just stand up and breathe air, but in a real dive, you can’t just go up to the top. Which is why it’s really important to be calm and breathe slowly underwater. Also because you don’t want overexert yourself and suck up all your air too quickly, which makes for a short dive.buceo, diving, scuba, padi, lago ilopango, oceanicaTeam Oceanica.The only other not-so-great parts of our first open water dives were that 1) I had a nosebleed when we surfaced after our first dive (which I was assured was normal) and 2) my fins were too big and I have a pretty big cut/area of raw skin where it rubbed the back of my achilles tendon. So it’s been really awesome running or doing other things that irritate that spot like, you know, wearing shoes. Next time I need smaller fins, taller boots and/or a full-length wetsuit. These slight inconveniences and mishaps won’t stop me though — I got buceo fever!What did you do over the weekend?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

5 thoughts on “Buceo | Open Water Dives

  1. You are so brave! Diving is something I think is so cool, that I will never attempt. I freak out when Jimmy goes diving although he got his certificate. I am going to stick to the air and reminisce about my sky-dive 12 years ago.


    1. See, I would never go skydiving! I used to want to when I was younger but I feel like I am more risk-averse the older I get (scuba diving notwithstanding). But like, roller coasters and stuff like that scare me now! Haha. Hey you never know at your next post maybe you will be inspired. 😉


  2. Seriously – very brave. It was comforting for me to read this and see that you can not be 100% fearless about this stuff and still survive and enjoy it. My husband has been dying for me to get certified, but I’m not exactly a fan of the water. I did a taster diving class in a pool and we did some of the skills, and I surprisingly didn’t freak out, but I’ve decided to wait until we get to Thailand to do my open water dives and start the actual certification classes in DC. Good to hear you’re doing alright though and still like it. I’m going to live vicariously through you for now. 😉


    1. From what I have seen, classes are MUCH less expensive abroad than in the U.S. Thailand would be amazing! I am excited about how much more we’ll be able to see (underwater) on our travels. I’m no expert though, so we’ll see how I do in the actual ocean! Thanks for commenting! It has been a while since I read your blog. When Google Reader closed I lost all my subscriptions (because I stupidly did not transfer them) but now I use feedly so I have re-added you. 🙂


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