By Carys Mahoney,

I arrived here towards the end of June 2015 with a goal in mind to complete my Divemaster and take on an Eco warrior Internship, over a short period of three months and to start a new adventure, learn a language, escape mundane life then to be let loose in to the vast underwater world and find myself, whatever finding myself means.

I naturally was a little apprehensive but by repetitively telling myself to get out of my comfort zone and that this is the opportunity to make a change and put some good into the world, the long plane ride came around quickly and the world turns upside down for a while, dealing with stressful airport security and sleeping on cold hard floors wishing away the hours. Once landing in the heat, being sleep deprived for 15 hours and when the disbelief of this new land wears of, you realise now its time to get going and find where this new path is going to lead, hopefully a comfy bed and a beer.

After a few hotels a long bus ride, being ripped off in a taxi and numerous broken conversations with locals, I arrived in Quepos a small sleepy town along the sea with the locals fishing off the beach, Ticos selling fruits I’ve never seen in my life on every corner and huge sailing boats impressively towering over the marina, I had arrived at my final destination. Once having brief introductions with the cheery dog loving American owner and lectures from one of the instructors about how he may make my life a living hell but hopefully we will get on, I can happily say I some how felt comforted to just be around the people I would be spending the next few months with.

Deco the much loved shop pooch

When the time came to leave the comfort of the hotel the knowledge that a spare bed was still available at the homestay was a huge relief, one can only spend so much money in hotels and restaurants when backpacking without the intention of returning home. My expectations where exceeded ten fold by the wonderful hospitality of the home stay, it was obvious it was somewhere that would make me feel comfortably at home even a million miles away from little old England,

Hammock and Yoga Balcony

my peers in the dive shop have become friends I will cherish for life, the natural wilderness installed in the areas surrounding the town of Quepos and Manuel Antonio is a constant delight with Squirrel monkeys(Saimiri oerstedii) a regular site to the sound of Howler monkeys(Alouatta palliata) in the background, towering lush green Guanacaste Trees(Enterolobium cyclocarpum) and the variety of Orchids and edible Hibiscus along every street and garden wall. An upgrade from Seagulls and the chaotic littered streets of Liverpool on a Friday night.

Lush flora of Ocean Unlimited

Once training commenced I was undoubtably shaky with getting back into diving after a year out and it took me a couple of weeks to get comfortable with the skills and proving to myself I can do this, then every new step along the Divemaster ladder became a challenge turned into the most satisfying achievements even when I thought I would never complete certain tasks, but thanks to the patience and brilliant training of all my instructors, teachers and fellow trainees I got through, even after wanting to give up and drown doing the 400meter swim in choppy waters to my most dreaded task the Kit exchange, whereas now throw me in anytime I want to do it quicker, more efficiently and to help others get through it. Having this mindset installed is incredibly empowering and can help anyone believe in themselves, you have to throw yourself in the deep end in life otherwise you never learn or grow to be the best and happiest version of yourself.

To be continued…