Day 10 - 13
Trip Start Jul 31, 2010
24Trip End Ongoing
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Monday started with a lovely lie in, as I wasn't due at UDC until 2pm. With everyone gone I was left to just chill around on my own, and explore a bit more of the island. Bit surreal being on my own when I’ve been surrounded by people since the start of my trip. Good to get some me time though, although it didn’t last for long! 2pm saw the start of my DMT (dive master training) where we went through all what the course involved and what I’d be doing for the next month. Sounded pretty hectic but good at the same time. I’m certainly going to be busy for the next few weeks.
My mentor for the DMT is a guy called Frank, an American chap who seems pretty sound. There's quite a few people completing their DMT at Utila Dive Centre and their well known for their first class training, being award a 5 star career development centre award from PADI. From the introduction from Frank you can see why. To pass a training exercise with PADI you need to get a level 2 out of 5, with UDC you need to get a 4!!! Practise will make perfect though and I’m assured that it won’t be a problem, here’s hoping!
The evening saw my progression from Mango Inn to my new apartment. The girls I’m living with seem top notch, so hopefully it’ll be a decent place to stay. A whirlwind move in was quickly followed by meeting up with the aussies and going to a house party being held for one of the instructors who was leaving the island. Copious amounts of rum were again consumed, resulting into a sporadic jumping into the sea by everyone fully clothed. They don’t do things by halves on this island it seems! Most worrying was that my new 'mentor’ was there and was encouraging me more than most, legend! Ha ha.
Tuesday kicked off with a nice early start, being a DMT means that you need to get to the centre an hour before any boats leave to set up the boat, hand out equipment, make the roll call, and get insurance lists filled. Its pretty full on, but also good fun. If we turn up a minute later than 7am, we’ll get kicked off the boats though, not good for someone who’s not an early morning person! Two successful dives followed exploring a wreck on the south side of the island. I buddied up with a guy called Marcus, an older guy from Chichester, who’s doing his DMT with me. Following our return to shore, and following the unloading of the boat etc, we started our theory. Chapter three of our manual is all about assisting student divers in training, including performing skills and my role as a DM, all pretty serious stuff, but easy enough to get your head around. Following my 13 hour day at the shop, I finally made it back to my new apartment, to be welcomed by a piping hot chicken potato and salad meal, cooked by the girls. I get the feeling I’ve done well with this house! And early night was had following the days exertions, ready for another early start in the morning!
Wednesday turned out to be a very busy day indeed. The traditional early morning start was followed by another two fun dives, this time at some more caves, beautiful scenery and loads of fish, highlight being seeing a massive barracuda, maybe 1.5m long, and a lobster, that was pretty cool as well. The diving in this place is superb. Following my diving I was starving so went and got a massive lunch…bad idea that would be as it turned out. Upon getting back to the dive centre I was told we were doing our swim test!! Not the best on a full stomach, but I managed to get 17 out of 20, Horsham swimming club did me proud. As I said the other day everything we do is marked out of 5, so only dropping three points wasn’t bad at all. He test its self was pretty hideous, we had to swim for a half a mile I think it was, without any goggles mask etc, followed straight away by a mile swim in snorkel gear, a 15min treading of water 2 with your hands out of the water was next, swiftly followed by towing another diver for 800 meters. For each task you were timed and the grouping which you finished in related to the amount of points you got. Pretty hard on a full stomach, wish they’d pre-warned us!!! Another dive followed, completing coral watch. UDC does a lot of conservation work, including looking at and monitoring the corals around the island. We’re the only dive centre which completes this on the island, and is testament to the beliefs of the owners and instructors. Theory followed and ended what had been a very busy day at the shop! The evening saw a pretty messy night with tony and mark. We ended up with the irish in Tree Tanic (bar voted fourth best in the world by lonely planet) followed by bar in the bush. Fun times was had by all, and as I wasn’t diving till the afternoon on Thursday I let my hair down a little...well maybe a lot!
What a lazy start to the day. Following the previous evenings antics I finally awoke from my pit at mid day. Surprisingly following a shower and getting some air I felt absolutely spot on. Rum on this island is part of everyday life, something I have learnt to live with, and who am I to judge, therefore I better follow traditions and get my daily intake. I wasn’t due at the dive shop until 2pm, so I chilled around the apartment before heading down. When I arrived I discovered that today was ‘skill day’ where I had to demonstrate all 20 of the skills which we teach the open water course to an instructor level. I was pre warned that if we passed even a third we’d have done well. Maya was marking us, and told us as we were going onto IDC we’d get marked even harsher as we would be expected to be a lot better. Brilliant! I did however managed to pass 8 out of 20 to a level 4 or 5 which is not bad at all. Further practise is needed on the others but I was never going to ace them all first time. Following completing my tasks on the tarp at the end of the dock, I headed back to mango to meet up with Tony, and have a swim. A short debate followed whether or not to go to the UDC barbeque. For 250 lemps (around £8) you got a massive plate full of food, and as much beer and rum as you could drink!! Pretty good deal I’d say. The night also introduced me to the ‘snorkel test’ the final test of the DMT. The candidate is made to sit in a chair wearing a snorkel and mask, which has been adapted to contain a massive funnel on the end. The instructors then proceed to pour copious amounts of rum, beer, vodka, wine, raw egg, literally anything they can find into the snorkel which the DMT must drink in order to pass there finals. Pretty impressive show, but im not looking forward to my ‘final exam’!!! Loic (a French guy) who assisted on my rescue course did it, and to say it hit him was an understatement! He was truly gone! Everyone then head to Coco Locos where more socialising took place. Tony and I met up with the Irish gang again before retiring for the night.