A Croatian, Two Americans and A Turk Go Diving

Aaron and I went to Aruba.

Wish You Were Here!

Wish You Were Here!

I know! Don’t hate me! I didn’t even want to tell you.

You know how I love a good deal? Well, I also hate losing money. We had some international airfare that was going to expire, since I cancelled a trip in order to stay home and shoot Baby Signing Time 3 & 4. The trick was, the airfare was going to expire February 8th and we had to use it to go somewhere international AND we couldn’t transfer it anyone else. See! My hands were totally tied. 🙂

Add to that, Aaron and I don’t usually take long trips. We take little bursts of trips. Like 2 nights in Boston or 2 nights in San Francisco, just long enough to remember that, yes, we still like each other, but also short enough that our family members don’t disown us when we leave them to care for our children. Oh, and also, not long enough for Lucy to get too sick. Lucy almost always gets sick when we leave… wouldn’t you? Think about it. If you completely relied on others for your daily survival and the two people you trusted the most left… wouldn’t your system get thrown off a bit? Mine would. Lucy’s does.

When Leah was 2, Aaron and I went to Hawaii for a week. Other than that, Aaron, Leah and I went to Africa last year for 11 days, Lucy was sick at home through most of it. Last November, Aaron and I went on a business retreat to Mexico for 6 nights and Lucy was sick for most of that as well.

So, how do you balance not losing money, getting a good deal and trying to enjoy yourself while you are pretty sure at least one of your children is suffering and causing all of those around her to suffer as well?

You don’t. It doesn’t always balance. You might as well go to Aruba!

As you may have read, I recently certified in SCUBA, and I live in Utah where it is pretty cold, so I figured we’d go somewhere warm and SCUBA-worthy. Somehow we settled on Aruba. Why not? (If you haven’t read my adventures in SCUBA, stop here and read this. Seriously, it applies to this post in an embarrassingly ironic way)

After nothing but beach the first day, we signed up to dive with Mermaid Divers for three consecutive days. Our dive master, Bero was from Croatia. It took full concentration to get all the details and instructions, with his strong accent and over the roar of the boat engine. We did two dives each day. Day one was great, (Antilla Wreck and Pedernales) but, didn’t seem to compare to our dives in Cozumel. Was it the dive or that I just couldn’t seem to relax? I was worried about forgetting something. It had been three months since our last dive. I was glad we would be diving again the next day, so I could chill out. It was good to dive again and the watermelon was great.

The following day there were only a few divers. We hit it off immediately with a guy named Kenan. Who we accidentally called “Kenneth” for 2 days. Oops! Kenan is from Istanbul, not Constantinople. (Ha ha! Now the song is going to be stuck in your head!) We found ourselves laughing about everything with Kenan. The dives were great! (J/C Wreck and Plonco) We saw a turtle, an octopus, and I even got stung by a jellyfish! How’s that for adventure?

We rented an underwater camera for our second and third dive days.

J/C Wreck

SCUBA Rachel

SCUBA Rachel

Rachel and Propeller

Rachel and Propeller

J/C Wreck

J/C Wreck

Plonco Reef

The third and final dive day, we were happy to find that Kenan was diving with us again. This time, I wasn’t worried at all. We were still laughing and having a great time. We started the day off with our deepest dive, (Mas Bango) dropping to 125 feet!

Show off!

Show off!

Again, the dive was beautiful! We didn’t spend the whole dive at 125 feet, the area sloped up, so after a while we were at 60 feet. The area continued to slope to safer depths… And then it happened…

No, there was not one stinking shark the whole time, so DON’T get excited. Which reminds me, Bero, the dive master had said that usually on this dive there is a shark that he can approach, roll over and “hypnotize” as it floats sleepily on it’s back. I was DYING to find that shark, because that photo-op… me holding the hypnotized shark, would be PRICELESS after my last SCUBA post. Priceless! But we never saw it 🙁

Like I said, then it happened…

Wait, before I tell you what happened, you need to know this: When you dive down 33 feet, that is called 1 atmosphere and if you had a cup full of air, the air would compress in one half. If you continued down another 33 feet, that is another atmosphere and the half-cup of air would compress in half again, which is only one fourth of the previous compression. This continues, compressing the current amount of air in half and so on. The OPPOSITE happens when you come UP from depth. The air expands at that same rate, this is why when you ascend you let out all of the air in your BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and swim up to the surface, blowing air out of your lungs all the way. You get rid of the air in your BCD and lungs, so it doesn’t expand and rocket you up to the surface, damaging your lungs.

And so… at around 30 feet, Aaron and I were taking pictures. Then Kenan motioned that he would take a picture of me and Aaron together. So, we all got vertical. Meanwhile, vertical, whatever air was in our BCDs is now all together at the top section of our BCDs. Then I took a picture of Aaron and Kenan. We were busy taking pictures and we were paying little attention to our gauges. Then, Aaron takes the camera while Kenan and I pretend to make out. And all of a sudden we realize that we have all accidentally SURFACED!!!!

Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death

I cannot write what was going through my mind, but I am sure you can imagine, lots of “HOLY’s” “OH MY’s” and “WHAT THE’s.” Aaron turned and dove back down fast. He had been reading a book called “Shadow Divers” and was all too familiar with what can happen if you surface too quickly or do not do a safety stop before surfacing.

I was stunned, looking at the sun shining through the water. The surface was only a foot above my head, at the most and I was still moving toward it. My mind was racing. Are we going to get sick? Am I going to die? Is this it? This is how I go? I die pretending to kiss a Turk under water? How absurd! How deep were we? Is the dive over? Can I dive back down or will that make things worse? I reached up and released the air from my BCD and sank back down, to the bottom with a hundred questions in my mind. There was only one thing I was sure of… one angry Croatian was waiting for us at the bottom.

Bero isn’t fluent in sign language, but he didn’t need to be to get his point across. He jabbed his pointer finger at his palm to scream; “LOOK AT YOUR GAUGES!” and then he jabbed his finger at his temple, seeming to scream; “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” He repeated these signs, over and over and over. I lowered my head and nodded. I was suddenly 6 years old and was SO busted! (Deservedly so.)

Aaron, Kenan and I continued the dive somberly. We were not smiling. We were not laughing. No one was taking pictures. None of us dared to look at each other. Each of us stayed uncomfortably close to the dive master. I imagined they were berating themselves, like I was. “That was SO STUPID!” “That was TOO close!” “That was NOT cool!” I could still feel my terrified heart pounding. I reminded myself to calm down and breathe slowly through the remainder of the dive.

After our three minute safety stop at a depth of 15 feet, the entire group surfaced. I was already bracing for the verbal reprimand. It came. Again, I nodded and mumbled quietly. “I know. I am sorry. I understand that was dangerous. I know. No, I was not paying attention. I know. I know.”

I felt sick to my stomach about the dive. I thought about just skipping the final dive, waiting it out in the boat. Then an image popped up in my mind; I was 16 years old, and I had just been thrown off my horse. I stood up in the arena, dusted myself off and I NEVER, ever got back on my horse again.

I closed my eyes tightly. Then I opened them.

And then… I switched out my tank, checked my gear, suited up and I stepped off the back of the boat into the turquoise water.

This entry was posted in Crazy Little Thing Called Life and tagged , by Rachel Coleman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. www.deafchildren.org Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at www.mydeafchild.org. For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on www.SignItASL.com. Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

13 thoughts on “A Croatian, Two Americans and A Turk Go Diving

  1. I loved that you blogged about this after alluding to something in your tweets about a mishap that did not turn horribly wrong. I also like the story about the horseback riding and making a choice to end this experience differently. Life is like that .. a lot.. and we are given so many opportunities to get back on the horse or not. We get comfortable doing something and gauges don’t get looked at and then BAM we are hit with an ‘Oh no’ moment (vs. the Ah ha moments). Something like this happened to me when I was driving home from college years ago, so exhausted and nearly falling asleep at the wheel. These experiences certainly wake us all up to living in the NOW!
    Earlier today my daughter Mia was pouring her goldfish crackers on the floor and signing and saying to me, “clean up?”. We have come to know you through helping Mia learn ASL and are so grateful for these tools we have to work on her delayed speech. She continues to teach her preschool friends and teachers new signs….I love that she can be the teacher too!
    Keep diving and you’ll get the picture of you with the hypnotized shark yet!

  2. OUCH! jellfish! Yuck! When I hear that, all i can think about is the Friends episode where Monica got stung and asked everyone to pee on her. That must have been painful!

    My daughter Mina saw your pic on the blog and immediately said “that’s Leahs mommy!” We sign all the time..any tips to keep the signing going with a highly verbal child?

    Would love to be able to send you a video of her singing her favorite song “i’m really good at….(fill in the blanks)” Is there a place i can send it from facebook?

    keep up the good work! We love you! You join us for lunch everyday and it is the only tv Mina watches during the week.

    Thanks for being an inspiration! I could write a ton more, but i am sure this is not the place to do it….

    take care,
    elif and mina

  3. Ok…let’s try this again…;)

    Love the awesome pics!

    Shame on you young lady!! And what was that you were saying about laughing gas and time outs? LOL….. proud of your for stepping off the back of the boat!

    So….could your next ‘adventure’ be to hop back up on the back of a horse?

  4. Rachel, Loved this blog! Great photos, and great insight into what you and Aaron were up to on this Aruba trip! Sounds like it was worth it in many more ways than just one. Thanks for a great Share!

  5. Yay! Comments are fixed!
    Great photos! I’m so happy Aaron had read that book. Isn’t it scary when the sudden shock of being that close to something that could be potentially fatal is so close? Very glad you didn’t let that stop you from jumping back in

  6. Trying this again!

    I love the pictures from your trip, nice to have those underwater cameras. It sounds like it was full of excitement, in more ways than one. Good for you for getting back out there and diving again!

  7. Well that just sounds like a wonderful trip. You deserve it! I’m way too chicken to go on a boat let alone dive in the ocean w/ the pesky sharks 😉 You rock!

    I just got series 2 ST in the mail. I love it. It was spose’ to be for Brook’s b-day but of corse I couldn’t wait. ( I did save some for the b-day …LOL) It was frikin’ Christmas, again 🙂 Your so talented!! Thank you for being so creative 🙂 and sharing it with the world.

    P.S. Not to plug Brook’s signing ability or anything, 😉 but did you see the video I sent you. I really wanted to Thank you for closing the gap of communication for Brook and I. Brook sang/signed Shine for you 🙂 My all time favorite song!!

  8. Great post! We love diving! I too have accidentally ascended without (much of) a safety stop. It’s weird how that can happen so fast. I am not that experienced of a diver and have had no experience since oh, May 2005, well, actually sometime in 2004. 🙂 Great job stepping off the back of that boat!

  9. Way to get back up on that “horse”! I just love hearing about your adventures. Can’t wait for the day I can leave the kids for a whole week (too young still).

  10. Hey,
    Great story. I am the Turk, you pretended to kiss!! It nearly became the kiss of death:) Greetings from a cold and rainy Istanbul.
    Wish we could go back and do it all over again!!
    All the best,

  11. Pingback: The Miller Menagerie » The Times They Are A-Changin’, Part I

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