Go to Central America. Have a jolly for 4 months and look for somewhere special. Find a TEFL/CELTA course. Teach English. That was the plan.
I started diving in my 20s. I’d been on a few discovery dives and loved the underwater world. It was great getting my Open Water, but living in London you don’t really get to dive very often. But that was good enough for me. To go on fun dives whilst on holiday/travelling was just perfect. A couple years later I decided that I’d actually quite like to go a little deeper, maybe explore some wrecks and of course check out what’s below at night, so decided it was time to get my Advanced Open Water PADI. But that was it. That’s all I wanted. Or so I thought.
I was adamant I would never do my divemaster: there was no need. I was happy with my advanced. I could dive when I wanted and that’s all I wanted. And then something else happened: I wanted to do my Enriched Air course! Without knowing it, I’d fallen for diving, wanting to know more about the ocean and how to look after it as well.
So when travelling around central America, searching for teacher training locations it dawned on me. Why not do a divemaster? Why not work in a profession you care about and love doing…at 32 it seemed I was regressing slightly, that I was too old to take this path. Having spent my 20s working in TV in London, I surprised my friends when I decided to move to Cornwall, take up residency at a Seal Sanctuary (www.sealsanctuaries.com). To now make the choice to dive for a living would surely suggest some kind of midlife crisis? But I’m not having a crisis at all, quite the opposite. I just want to spend my time (for now) diving, getting to know more about the ocean and our influence on it. I realised in the last couple of years its not about making hoards of money, or being a success in other peoples eyes, its about how you feel and how successful you see yourself. For me learning to dive in an eco sensitive way is hugely important, its also important that you be a great role model to future divers… to not continue ruining the ocean. I was sold. I knew what i had to do… considering teaching English was not even an option. It couldn’t be!
The hard part was where to do my divemaster; there are hundreds/thousands of dive centres offering a divemaster course but I wanted somewhere special, somewhere I could also work in exchange for training.
After a google search and a look at reviews on Tripadvisor, I came across Go Pro Costa Rica. Without hesitation I sent an email to Georgia. I went and had some lunch and didn’t expect to hear anything for at least a week of so, but that afternoon I received an email from Georgia asking when could I start? ABSOLUTELY THRILLED. I think I celebrated with more than a bottle of wine and packed my bags. I booked a plane ticket and within a week headed for the beautiful town of Quepos. So here I am!
It’s been a week since I started with Go Pro and Oceans Unlimited. And admittedly I was nervous at first. I arrived at the shop to be met by Georgia, who seemed really busy with a multitude of tasks, I had no idea what to was going to happen and ‘hung around’; teh office until she looked like she could squeeze me in for a quick chat. But we had more than a brief chinwag. She welcomed me with a pile of forms to be filled out and explained the working hours and conditions of the shop. She then drove me to my accommodation, which was the homestay option, and explained how things would be working from tomorrow and who my mentor would be at this stage. After arriving at my new home, my Costa Rican family seemed great, I knew I was sharing with 2 other students doing the instructors course too but they were nowhere to be seen.
I have to admit my first week was difficult. The IDC students were nearing the end of their lessons and so a lot of time was spent with them. This paired with the fact that the team here is very close and as diverse as it gets meant I was left to my own devices quite a lot of the time, working through my divemaster manual and knowledge reviews. I did have doubts and considered leaving mid week, but then a talk through with my room mate Kristi (An IDC graduate here) and I decided to stick it out a bit longer. Toward the end of the week, these feelings had surpassed and I started to see where I would fit in, and the benefits to Go Pro and Oceans Unlimited.
What I discovered in this first week was that the diving conditions are perfect for learning and the team here are all excellent divers. In just a week I have learnt so much, it’s making me even more dedicated to diving. And with my ½ my theory completed and a couple of open water skills checked I can see myself getting more out of these few months then I ever realised.
With courses running daily, whether you want your Open Water or your IDC, I can’t recommend Go Pro & Oceans Unlimited enough. They have daily fun dive trips and after work socialising too. I know Go Pro, Oceans Unlimited & Quepos will become my home and am super glad I chose to dive rather than complete my TEFL, and maybe I will be a teacher one day but certainly not English, maybe I’ll take the IDC…who knows!