Brought to you by Caradonna Adventures. 

There are a lot of experiences and adventures on my bucket list. But until I took a job with an agency that specializes in dive and adventure travel, scuba wasn’t one of them. This was partly just a matter of priorities—there were so many other things to see and do. But, honestly, the idea of breathing underwater did seem a bit scary. After all, I’m not a fish.

But one of the perks of working for an adventure travel agency is getting a chance to… well, travel! So, my team and I headed to Cozumel, Mexico, to meet with the department of tourism and hotel management. My main goal was to review our quality-control procedures and familiarize myself with what’s new in Cozumel.

And that’s how I found myself at Dive House, filling out the paperwork to start scuba diving myself. Was I excited? Sure, but also pretty nervous. My hands were literally shaking as I filled out the forms.

I thought to myself, “You can do this. You’ve mastered things that were a lot harder, and these instructors know what they’re doing.”

And I was right. My instructor, Victor Sosa, was smart and professional, but also really chill. There was no pressure to perform, and when he showed me how to set up the gear, I got it right away. We started in the pool, and it turns out I had no problem breathing underwater. There were some early fails with learning how to clear my mask underwater, but I kept pushing myself and eventually got the hang of it.

Taking the Plunge

As I stood on the swim platform, about to go overboard for my first real dive, all I kept thinking was, “This is really happening.”

Victor promised there’d be no surprise skill drills this time around, and he’d stay next to me the whole time. Still, even with the confidence I’d gained in the pool, I was a little intimidated by the thought of diving into the ocean.

cozumel mexico diving story

Cozumel is an ideal place to learn to dive.

Nevertheless, I took a giant step forward and found myself in the water. All my anxiety just disappeared. I used to think of scuba as sort of an adventure sport, but what I didn’t realize until I tried it was how methodical and relaxing the entire underwater experience actually is. It’s just you and your breathing, floating in silence. Everything from the surface is forgotten. It was amazing.

I’d been going through a pretty stressful time in my life and searching for some solace. I tried yoga and meditation, but I didn’t find they helped me escape the chaos of life. Being underwater was the first time I could just let go of all the cares, concerns and worries and remain totally in the moment. It was the first time my brain just shut off and become totally Zen.

Funny, who would have thought that the road to inner peace was 60 feet under the water?

Let’s Do it Again

While in Cozumel, I also managed to check out the town, hit up the beach and receive an awesome massage at the Secrets Spa by Pevonia. But the thing I looked forward to every day was getting back in the water. Every dive was a new discovery. There was so much to see, from the little stuff like sea horses to turtles, rays and groupers. I loved the drift dives. You just step off the boat, float with the current and then get picked up at the end. On one dive, we swam out to the edge of the drop-off, where the reef drops into the dark blue; there’s no telling what’s out there. I felt like an astronaut exploring an unknown world.

caradonna adventures diving

Victor and Stefanie, ready to take the plunge.

I know it sounds cliché to say something like “scuba was a life-changing experience.” But in some ways, it truly was. Ever since I came home, I’ve been asking myself, “When can we go again?”

I can still close my eyes, remember all the things we saw, and find that same tranquil feeling. Next my husband will get certified, so he can experience pure bliss and we can explore the unknown together.

And maybe we’ll do something new together, too. Learning to dive has boosted my overall confidence—I’ve never tried to zip line, but hey, if I can breathe underwater, why not?

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