Tuesday, November 5, 2013

travels | turkey & greece 2013 | diving in kusadasi

Scuba diving is the most terrifying thing I've done in my life.  I didn't think it would be a big deal, that I'd just get certified and it'd be fun to go with friends when we were in Greece.  I was not expecting the intense fear that accompanied every practice dive.

I'd pull up at the dive shop on Saturday mornings, coffee in hand, and calmly put my gear together, laughing with my brother and the other divers.  We'd drive to the quarry and hang out until it was time to go and then as soon as my wetsuit was zipped, the fear would come back, my breathing shallow, lungs tight, sick feeling in my gut.  I'd tell myself to push through, pray that God would help me do this and then go under... The bubbling of your regulator and own breathing are the only sounds you hear.  It's so quiet underwater. Then you start to contemplate things...  Like marine flora and fauna in the Midwest, your life, what you should eat for lunch, how strange people's hair looks underwater, air supply, your love of dry land, the sovereignty of God and man's responsibility. 

It gets intense. 

My final practice dive included having to completely take my mask off underwater, replace it and clear out the water.  Seriously, this was not going to happen.  I couldn't force myself through.  I floated at the surface with the assistant instructor (who I'm pretty sure was an angel) and made a few lame jokes as I tried to remember how to breathe.  Backing out at this point was not an option, I got what my dad would call the "eye of the tiger" and said "LETS GO!" and dropped 25 feet down to the platform where I yanked my mask off like a pro, waited for my instructor to tap me, and mentally recited the 23rd Psalm for thirty seconds (or forever, whatever came first).  Then I slowly pulled my mask onto my face, slipped the band around my ponytail and began to clear out my mask, when I opened my eyes, there was my instructor waiting to give me the high-five and "ok" sign.  We finished several more drills, which, compared to the "mask drill" were a breeze, and then shot up to the top like superman.  Our instructors signed off on our certifications, said they'd mail our cards and told us to have fun on our trip.
I packed my mask and snorkel into my suitcase and jetted off to Turkey several days later.  Our dive wasn't until the mid-point of our trip and I tried to not think about it.  As we got closer I was more and more convinced that I'd just do the little tiny "baby dive", you know, just like 10 minutes under the water.  I'm really good at talking myself out of things.

And clearly all about the safe thrills. 

We pulled up the the dive shop in Turkey, about 25 of us, and met our crew for the afternoon.  The dive shop consisted of 3 bronzed divemasters, 4 wetsuits, 5 tanks of air and a dingy.  Sketchy operation if you ask me.  Mr. Diver Number One started to gather all of the Discover Scuba people around (hello, me!) and began to break down his group, and then he asked if anyone was certified...  My hand kinda when up... Then he yelled at me and told me to get in the other line because I wasn't in his group and he was going to let me drown in the Mediterranean.  Or something like that, I was to scared to hear things properly.  And there was a slight language barrier.  And he also looked like he could snap my neck in a skinny minute if provoked.  So I walked over to the other line and slowly signed my life away to a Turkish dive shop.  And then waited for my group to be called.

Daniel went first with his buddies (and captured these beautiful photos), while I waited with a few other people that I didn't know.  And made some more lame jokes (its a coping thing for me).  At last it was our turn, they recycled the guys' wetsuits (wet wetsuits are not fun), BCD's, regs and weights, I'm so glad we're close friends or I'd be even more grossed out.  Then we walked out to the boat.  BOAT!!!  If you've ever tried to get into a moving boat with over 50 pound of equipment on your back, you know the struggle.  I half walked, half fell into the boat and crashed to the other side.  Someone was there to get a photo.  Thanks, I treasure it forever.  Diving from a boat also meant the dreaded back roll over the side of the boat.  Sister doesn't do back rolls, I like to see what I'm getting into.  Thank you very much.  The divemaster wasn't having any of it and as soon as I was sitting on the edge he pushed me over the side.  As I popped up, I was amazed to find that the technique actually worked, you can roll off, tank first and not hurt yourself.


Now I just had to wait for the descent.  My biggest fear of that moment was unknown.  I didn't know how deep we would be going, my equipment was different than what I was used to, the slight language barrier and I just didn't know what else I should be afraid of.  We began to drop one by one and pure blue water began to cover my mask, I let air out of my BCD and waited for my ears to squeeze... And... they didn't.  I saw blue sky again.  Ahhh!  I was stuck!  I kept dumping air out of my vest and tried my hardest to sink (think heavy thoughts...).  They hadn't put enough weight on my belt, I was unexperienced and didn't think to overcompensate for the super salty water and I was was floating like a rubber ducky in the bay.  I finally got down a few feet and reached my hand out to a fellow diver (in my head it was a slow motion "helppppp meeeeeeeeee"),  he pulled me down to the bottom and I'm pretty sure I could see the divemaster rolling his eyes through his mask.  At that point I was more concerned about keeping up with the group and it took my mind off of my fear.  However the weights were doing nothing for me and floating around.  After, oh, about 2 minutes of that, the dive master linked arms with me and dragged me along the ocean floor for the next half an hour.

We really bonded, I felt.

As we swam, slowly my eyes began to focus on the sights around me.  I saw ruins.  My conspiracy, history, ruin-loving self, had completely forgotten the reason I'd signed up for diving class in the first place.  I actually gasped.  Underwater. With my reg in my mouth.  And then laughed.  Thankfully, only I could hear myself (I wouldn't have wanted the divemaster to think I was crazy, oh wait! He already thought that. Carry on.)  My grandpa would have given me the Ace Award for the day (usually reserved for the biggest dingbat.)  I love that word, dingbat.

I could see the light filtering through thousands of gallons of saltwater, and lines, made from waves, in the sand at the very bottom and was reminded of a verse Mr. Potter had prayed that morning over us.  Psalm 16:6, which says "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places".  And right there, under the Mediterranean, I was overcome with gratitude to a God who has indeed allowed my paths to fall in pleasant places.  His goodness towards me is great.  I thought of the many mercies that He'd given me in the past few days alone.  Bless the Lord, oh my soul for His marvelous works.

For He alone is good.

It seems so silly, but as gratitude began to fill my thoughts, I calmed down, and we finished our dive.  Before I knew it my head was being pushed above water and I was right there at dock looking up at Daniel, Josh and JP.  And more importantly, I was alive!
Finishing that dive was the best feeling in the world.  All of the things they tell you about conquering fear is true.  You have the feeling you are on top of the world.  And the best part was having gone with my brother and friends we compared stories and laughed the whole way back to our beautiful boat.  I feel that I look slightly slap-happy in the above photo with my brother Daniel.      
I'm not sure I've seen anything as beautiful as the sun setting over Kusadasi that evening. 

And that concludes the very long winded story of "Abbe Goes Diving & Doesn't Die or Get Eaten by a Shark".  If you've managed to read this far, thank you.

The end. 


  1. This is really great writing Abbe! The sunset picture is flawless...! I love reading people's thoughts because it allows you to say things that you might not otherwise say. Thank you for being open and honest! This looks like it was an amazing trip! Please send me more of your blog posts! Oh, and I'm happy you're alive as well :) See you Sunday!

    1. You're sweet! This is probably more information than anyone wants to know... Yes, Sunday! See you then!

  2. I am so impressed with you. You are waaaay more adventurous than I would be. I totally relate with all your feelings going into it, except I probably would have backed out. LOL! And then kicked myself afterward. Good for your for pushing through. That first picture is amazing!