When looking up things to do in Lanzarote, visiting the Museo Atlantico seemed like a must. Only, neither me or my partner had ever done any diving. Even worse, as a child I got quite afraid of all the scuba gear and weird noises from the regulator/air whenever I saw other people diving (my uncle was a diving instructor) so I wasn’t exactly at ease.
But as it was a childhood dream to be able to dive once (looking at you, Jacques Cousteau!), I wanted to overcome this fear and push through.
We looked for a place to get a decent dive initiation and Dive College Lanzarote kept popping up, so we decided to book there.
We went over on a Monday and were welcomed by Andrea and Martha, our instructors. I was quite nervous, but the professional information and flow of the day that Andrea gave to us, took some of that away.
The idea was to first get the basics explained, get rigged up, checked and cross-checked, then do a short, shallow dive (max 6m), followed by some exercises in their outside pool. After a short break it would then be on to the Museo Atlantico.
After having received all the necessary info on how to breathe, clear your ears and mask, checking gauges, and scuba sign language, we walked down to the sea (which is right in front of the dive centre). Unfortunately, I started panicking before even going underwater, due to issues with my mask and unluckily swallowing a few gulps of sea water, despite the help of Andrea. This of course made my fear even worse. After a few moments my fellow dive companions had gone under with their instructor and I still couldn’t get over my “above water” issues. Andrea took his time to try and calm me down and said all the right things. He’s clearly seen this many times before. Unfortunately I was already panicking too much and for my safety and that of the others with me, I called it a day, as I didn’t want to be a liability to either the other divers or the instructors. Andrea asked whether I was sure a few more times, and said we could take our time regardless of the others, but understood my fear and didn’t push me any further. He called a colleague on land who kindly helped me out of the water so he could get back to the other divers and instructor.
I was very sad and emotional having given up, but was met with nothing but understanding. Of course they have seen this a million times, but they tried to calm me down and checked if I was ok multiple times.
After my partner was back from his dives (they all went smoothly), Damian, another instructor, seemed to have noticed how sad I was it hadn’t worked out, and offered me to do another dive with me later that week at no charge, where he insisted he would only take me and go fully at my pace. It clearly showed he was very passionate about diving and wanted to share that passion with other people. Although his offer was nothing but super kind and generous, I still felt too scared to try again and kindly declined.
After not one but two nights sleeping on it (or rather fighting my fears), curiosity again took over from fear. I felt it would be such a shame not to try again in these wonderful surroundings, now that I had the chance. Also, if I didn’t go back, the failed attempt would likely linger and become so big in my mind that trying again would get harder and harder over time.
I decided to take Damian up on his offer and sent him an email asking if a retry would still be possible. I only had one day left where I could dive (apparently you shouldn’t dive too close to a flight) so didn’t expect too much, but he answered straight away that he would fit me in at the start or end of the day. I actually think he fit me in before or after his regular hours and couldn’t believe he would go this far to help me out! From that point on I started visualizing the retry as a positive experience and hoped for the best.
So on the day I went over to the Dive College again, and Damian was already waiting for me at the shop. Firstly he talked me through the different steps, repeating it would be just him and me, and we would take all the time I needed. He helped find a properly fitting mask, and rigged us up. We then walked down to the water, while he kept talking to me and kept me distracted from my fears. Once in the water, he took time to adjust and re-adjust my mask until it fit well, and had me breathe trough the regulator both above and under water until I felt confident. I gave him the ok sign and he said we would just start floating at the surface, face down, until I felt ok going down. He swam forward a little and I followed him. He then asked again whether I was ok and if we could go down a little, and I signed I was ok. Before I knew it, we were a few meters deep, him checking and me signing ok all the way through, and I realized we had been under water for a few minutes and I wasn’t scared at all. It all went so smoothly.
Damian kept checking on me, taking it slowly and pointing out the fish and other sea life around us. We dove for about half an hour and I didn’t panic once. Damien kept checking if everything was ok, adjusting my BCD, mask and checking my air supply, all while being so attentive to take several pictures (memories!) and searching for all the cool things to see underwater.
When we came out, I was smiling non-stop and so glad I managed to actually dive. Even though there was no time left to visit the Museo, that actually didn’t matter (if anything it’s a good reason to come back some day). This is a childhood dream come true and I have to fully thank Damian and all his patience and professionalism for it.
I am so glad and eternally grateful to Damian, Andrea and Martha for all being professional, patient and utterly passionate.
I can only recommend the experience of diving, there’s a lot to see underwater, even during the first dive, and if you do want to take that first dive, I can highly recommend the kind, professional team of Dive College Lanzarote.
I really hope to be back some day and visit the Museo Atlantico with these guys.