Ever since I can remember, I found being underwater very relaxing. I was never afraid of it, in fact, my father taught me how to swim in a local lake when I was only four years old. I don’t have many memories from that period, but in my head, I do have a picture of my father holding me horizontally on the water surface and telling me to move my hands and legs fast so I wouldn’t sink. It was fun.
I probably fell in love with water when my mom gave the first bath to a baby Joanna (or perhaps when I was still in my mother’s womb) but the first time that I remember feeling pure joy from being in the water was that time in that lake with my father.
My love to water was growing every year as my whole family spent every summer holidays in the dacha next to the lake where I would have plenty of opportunities to swim. I could spend hours playing in the water and I didn’t even mind the cold. That changed a little bit when I grew up and I decided that I was not made for a cold weather (including cold water), but at that time, I would stay in the lake for so long that my lips would become completely blue and I would be shaking like someone with hypothermia, but I would still refuse to get out even when my mom was already shouting at me to do so.
As I just mentioned above, when I got a bit older I decided that I don’t really like the cold and I want to live in a warmer country. After a small research on where I should go (and what language I would actually like to learn), I decided to move to Spain. I’ve chosen, in my opinion of course, on of the best places this country has to offer: Barcelona.
Living in this amazing city that is located just right on the Mediterranean shore made me fell in love with water even more. I would spend hours on the beach – not because I wanted to get a tan but just because I loved to be in the water. Not only swimming makes me feel great, but just sitting and watching the sea can do wonders. After establishing this strong connection with the sea, I’ve decided that I will never again live far away from the ocean. I’ve been sticking to that plan for the last 8 years so as you can see, my love to open water was a real deal rather than a teenager crush 😉
So although I’ve been hanging around the sea since I was 19, I haven’t tried diving until I was 27. I had several opportunities to try it while living abroad, but for some reason I never did. The fact that diving is a relatively expensive sport and in my early twenties I was or a poor student or a poor immigrant didn’t help for sure but I can’t really use it as an excuse because when I finally decided to try I was still a poor immigrant (or better said, I’m still a poor immigrant 😉 ). Not that it was impossible to try, but it’s just felt like the kind of luxury I couldn’t afford.
When I went to Thailand last year I’ve finally decided to give it a go. After seeing incredible underwater pictures from Kho Pi Pi and hearing all the stories about colorful coral and friendly turtles I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying it anymore. I was very excited to see it with my own eyes and to check if my intuition that was telling me that it will be an unforgettable experience was true. Well, not only my gut feeling was leading me into the right direction again but thanks to following my intuition I discovered a truly new world, new passion, and new profession.
Words can’t describe how amazing it felt. Like, I mean, seriously, there are no words to exactly explain that experience. Or at least my English is not good enough to do so ;).
The whole new world got opened to me and my first thought was: “it feels like home!” Ok, maybe my first thought was something more practical like: “can I breathe through this weird thing?” or “what will happen if there are any sharks around?”, but I swear that the thing I felt when I got underwater was one of the most meaningful and beautiful feelings I’ve ever had.
Besides the whole marine life, beautiful coral and some cute turtles that were surrounding me, I fell in love with the silence one can experience only underwater. I always liked putting my head underwater while taking a bath because of that special kind of silence I could experience only when doing so; as you can imagine diving was million times better – complete silence and the feeling of ultimate freedom together made me lost my mind.
First 45 minutes passed so fast and I felt big disappointment when we started to ascend. I was still in a little bit of a shock from how great it was to be under the water and I really didn’t want this experience to end. When we went back to the boat my mouth wouldn’t shut – I was telling my friend how amazing it was and how much I wanted to do it again. I had another immersion in a couple of hours and as during the first time, I was extremely happy and excited to blow more bubbles. I don’t think my instructor was so happy though; my buoyancy was pretty bad, I was constantly going up and down, but well, it was my first time and I can’t blame myself for not knowing how to precisely control my body underwater.
After the second dive I went to talk with my instructor and asked him for some tips about buoyancy. I remember him saying, that the only way to really learn it is to take a professional diving course. I started to wonder, should I pursue this new hobby and become a qualified diver? I knew that I wanted to continue diving, but I wasn’t really sure what should I do about it. I had many plans and many places I wanted to visit and I didn’t see, how could I fit learning how to dive in there.
As every person that ever fell in love knows, falling head over toes always changes your life. I couldn’t get diving out of my head (not that I really wanted to, but you know what I mean) and I was constantly thinking what I should do about it. Finally, I decided that I’m going to completely change my life plans and instead of continuing my trip in South- East Asia I will fly over to the Philippines and master my diving skills. It was really unexpected turn and I would never see it coming, but as I said, I couldn’t stop thinking about diving and I had just the exact amount of money to get certified before heading to New Zealand.
So while spending my Christmas Day sitting in a bamboo hut on the river in Cambodia, I’ve made myself a present and book a one-way ticket to the Philippines where the whole new chapter of my life begun.
How did it go? Well, I’m not going into the details right now because it’s a story for another post BUT I can tell you that I had one of the most amazing two months of my life in the Philippines and that as I wished I became a Divemaster.
It was a really intense and crazy few months, but I loved it. Not only the diving was amazing, not only my instructors and the rest of the crew were great, but the country itself stole my heart. If you’ve never been in the Philippines just book your ticket right now – I promise you are not going to regret it!
Although my life took several radical turns already I never saw that one coming. Diving took me completely by surprise and radically changed my life. Right now, I’m living and working as a Divemaster in a beautiful Spanish island Gran Canaria. It’s been a hell of a journey with lots of ups and downs, but I’m learning a lot about diving and myself as well.
When I left to South-East Asia a year ago I’ve never thought that I will come back to Europe not only with a new hobby but also a new profession! It’s incredible how one experience can completely change your life. For me, the most important part of it is that being a professional diver allows me to travel and find an employment all over the world. And having a flexible job that allows me to travel is a must for me because as you all know already….the world is constantly calling me 😉