Saturday, March 9, 2013

Diving Deep to build relationships at KAUST

One of the things that KAUST offers us is the opportunity to enjoy unique experiences at a great rate.

Recently, Ci-Ci and I decided that it was time to spend some quality time with just the two of us so we took scuba diving lessons in the Red Sea. Though it only really took a week to actually get it done, we had a bunch of scheduling issues that drug it out. We were hoping to complete it after we came back from Dubai at Christmas. Ci-Ci had a week after we got back which made it seem like it would have been perfect timing, unfortunately we came back with colds and you can't go diving when your head is stuffed up because the you can't equalize the pressure in your ears. Plus I had a tough time with my ears equalizing after the flight from Dubai and it seemed to take a couple of weeks to get it straightened out. When I was finally ready the dive shop was unavailable for a couple of weeks.

The stars finally aligned the second week in February and we were able to get the dive classes started on Saturday (the first day of the work week). First we took a couple of quizzes and a test on our reading/ videos. Monday we showed up at the pool and started the real diving course. The first night showed us how to put the equipment together and disassemble it (5 times to be exact ;-), then we got into the pool to do some assessments. We had to float/ tread water for 10 minutes, then we swam 10 laps with a snorkel and flippers. The only downside of all of this was that it was on the surface and KAUST had been in a little cold spill (which means low 80's), but the wind made you really chilly. Ci-Ci was shivering once we finally got to the scuba portion, but we were able to position her near one of the pool jets shooting warm water into the pool and she was able to make it through.

The next night we had a scheduling conflict, but the instructor was AWESOME and just had us come in on Wednesday night (like Friday in the US). This time Ci-Ci brought a long sleeve shirt and was much more comfortable. We finished up in the pool and headed out for our first open water dive on Thursday morning. We got on the boat and went about 45 minutes away from campus. There were about 6 of us doing our first dives, and about a dozen people out to snorkel. We geared up and jumped off the boat into the water which was surprisingly chilly (about 24C/ 75F). It wasn't bad while we were moving, but there were a number of exercises that the instructor had to observe each person doing so we had a lot of waiting 12 meters below the surface, but it was exciting. We finished the exercises, swam along the reef for a little bit, and then came back to the boat to eat lunch and change tanks. After lunch we did it again.

The PADI certificate requires 4 dives over 2 days to complete the program. Unfortunately we have "Book Club" every Friday and would not be going out until the next week. We were trying to get this all completed before made my whirlwind trip to the USA in late February, but Karma did not want that to happen. We were scheduled to go out the next Thursday to complete the program and a colleague of mine was going to be going through the course this week and so it was going to be fun to go out on our 2nd set of dives when he was going for his first. Unfortunately when he came into work on Sunday he said that they only had a couple of people so they canceled his course that week. Hearing this I sent an email to confirm that Ci-Ci and I were still on the list to go on Thursday. They confirmed that we were, and I breathed a sign of relief. When were arrived at the boat on Thursday we were met with the sad news that unfortunately our names did not make it to the list and we were out of luck, since they have to deliver the Coast Guard a manifest of passengers a couple of days before the boat leaves.

A sense of humor is the one thing that is critical when living in what is largely a start up. I am sure it was worse in the beginning, and it is getting better, but stuff like this will still happen so you just learn to "smile and wave". The good side of it was that they would comp us each a dive besides the trip that we were supposed to go out on. So Ci-Ci told me to quit crying and we went to breakfast at the diner. The next weekend was my QUICK U.S. run so we were not going to make that week and I had planned to take the following weekend off to regroup. Unfortunately Ci-Ci had a basketball game show up on the calendar for pretty much every week in March, so we scheduled the last Thursday in February for our dives. We decided to transfer our comped dives to Barbara and Caitlynn so that they could go snorkeling while we were diving. So we paid for Ben, Whitney, and rentals for their gear and the whole family went out.

Besides going with the whole family we were also lucky because my colleague was able to finally get his classes completed so he was out for his first set of dives. Additionally another colleague was going diving with us as part of there Ship Wreck certification. The bonus for us was that since they were doing this dive, we would get to go around the wreck as well :-)) This friend also had a camera so you can see some of the great things that we were able to experience.(

When it was all done, Ci-Ci did great and we had a great time. I think that this could be one of those things that the family all gets into, but for right now, this is our thing, and I am cool with that. :-)

Best wishes to all,


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