Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A trip of culmination begins

A trip of culmination, that's what we returned from just the day before yesterday. I say culmination since a primary accomplishment of this particular ten day foray is that I am now a certified diver with PADI.

It all actually began last January during a trip to Mindoro when I stopped by The Big Apple Dive Resort in the resort town of Sabang where I had the good fortune to meet Neil, a primary manager of the place. I told him that I’d been diving casually for several months as a trainee with an advanced diver buddy and after more than 40 training dives with him my appetite was whetted for official certification, perhaps through The Big Apple.

Neil told me that that would be no problem, that his people at The Big Apple could indeed help me get it done. In response to my request to purchase preparatory reading material until I could return for training he suggested I take the PADI online open water recreational dive course. In hindsight it was THE best advice he could have given me.
PADI’s online open water scuba diving course is worth every penny. A person with no absolutely no knowledge of scuba diving can take this course, which is completely self paced, and come out the other end with a very credible certificate of knowledge. Armed with this know-how all one needs is a few days of in-water time with a PADI instructor and student becomes diver.

The online part of the course is divided into six sections; each must be completed in sequence which means passing the corresponding quiz before proceeding to the section. A course taker is given one year to get through the material and passing the final test. I really don’t know how anyone could possibly take that long though. I went through the whole thing in about two weeks and I was taking my time.
I passed the final test with a perfect score, which is no big deal since it is open book.

Happily, I printed the completion certificate. I was glad to have it done. After that I looked forward to when I could make it back out to Sabang so I could start “the wet work.” Not quite two months later and dive mentor Don and I rolled off the RoRo (roll-on roll-off) ferry onto the Balatero Pier for the short ride through Puerto Galera before turning left up the scenic spine of the peninsula to the seaside town of Sabang.

Days before I had tried to make online reservations at Big Apple but it showed no vacancies up through the middle of April. The girl at the counter informed me that there had been cancellations. Yes! Staying right there at the place I’d be training was best so we snapped up a deluxe room halfway between the beach entrance and the pool. I couldn’t have been happier.

The Big Apple takes credit cards, which I really love. Oh, but only thing, they want cash only for the part of the PADI training part of the bill. I have no idea why, but it sucks. I hate carrying money in this country, or any country for that matter.

While the girls got situated in the room I went looking for the dive instructor. I soon met Peter, the guy now responsible for my training. He was surprised to see me, not expecting my arrival until the next day. I explained that we were able to catch the 8 am ferry from Batangas, one that we didn’t even know existed. Before, the only ferry to Balatero didn't leave until noon.

I was happy when he told me that he would go ahead and get me caught up with his current group of basic open water trainees. Yes! Things were moving right along.

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