Location: Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
Becoming a certified dive instructor
Oh my god, you did your divemaster?? Why didn’t you say?!…she says sarcastically, well aware that I’ve spent the last couple of months inundating my readers with posts about becoming a divemaster. Well I am pleased to say that I am finally done with the divemaster chapter of my life, excellent thought it was, and am stepping proudly into the next part of the story – actual real live instructor.
After a tough two weeks of academics, pool training sessions and open water simulations, I finally emerged at the start of December as a fully qualified PADI dive instructor, exhausted but delighted.
It feels like a lifetime ago that I was sat in Cambridge, England, tentatively voicing my plan to quit my job and travel the world as a diving instructor for the first time. It was a surreal moment to step off the boat on the final morning of our exams, certificate in hand, knowing that all those months of planning, preparation and stress had finally come to fruition.
If I had a pound for every time someone described my travels as “just one big holiday”, well, I’d probably be able to fund my trips based on this misconception alone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been an amazing five months and at no point has it felt like a ‘daily grind’, but I do still have to put in work – I know, shocker.
‘Working hard or hardly working?’
In order to be able to sustain a life of travel I need to be able to earn money, and in order to be able to earn money I need a job. But it turns out job hunting is a hateful task, no matter where in the world you’re doing it. I remember a time about five years ago when I was in between jobs, sat on the floor in my boyfriend’s father’s house, weeping over my laptop because I hadn’t heard back from my 100th job application. It was 4pm and I was still in my pyjamas, unwashed, and losing any glimmer of optimism that there might be a job out there for me that didn’t involve selling my soul or, even worse, selling used cars. I wasn’t in a good place.
Flash forward to the end of 2015 and the shiny buzz of passing the instructors exam is starting to wear off as I find myself, once again, staring at an empty inbox and wondering if I’m ever going to find a job. It turns out that the diving industry is not all that different than any other corporate corner of the working world – there’s a lot of competition, you have to deal with rejection and you have to exercise patience.
The lack of control coupled with my infamous impatience is leaving me feeling pretty wretched as I struggle to picture what my life will look like in just a few short weeks time. Whilst spontaneity, mystery and impulse are fun when you have a bank-balance to support it, the carefree travelling hippy within me has been wrestled to the ground, bound to a chair and gagged while my super-organised, control-freak alter-ego is spending her days sending out CVs, chasing down leads and watching in horror as airline prices steadily rise and my bank balance steadily falls.
As I type, I’ve yet to hear back from any of the more promising positions I’ve come across. It’s tough for a brand new instructor to land a great job, and finding a job for a couple of them is like trying to find a stick of hay in a stack of needles. But whilst I might be feeling nervous and frustrated, I’m also very stubborn (or ‘determined’ as I like to position it) and I know I’ll do whatever it takes to keep this adventure going until I’m ready to say stop. Watch this space…
Dusting off the running shoes
It’s only taken me 5 months, but after posting a sad little eulogy to my so-far unused trainers last month I felt compelled to get them out of the backpack and onto the road. I woke up one morning feeling particularly invigorated and ready to do battle with the blazing Costa Rican heat. Armed with my trusty sneaks and the new Justin Bieber album blaring through my headphones (don’t judge, but I think I might be a Belieber…) I finally got back into my stride.
Hot as it was, it felt great to do some proper exercise, and I was pleased I hadn’t completely forgotten how to put one foot in front of another. Plus, with a view like this, it would be a waste not to get out there and enjoy it…