The PADI Divemaster Training in Roatan has been one of the best educational programs we have been a part of. We are great divers and have been diving now for around 2 years. We are naturals from the start. Shelly and I have been doing our Divemaster Training for the last couple weeks in Roatan, Honduras. We decided to go with West End Divers in the West End of Roatan, due to Mel the manager, who gave us the best vibe of any of the shops on the Island. We also were assured that we could take our time with our Divemaster and take breaks when we wanted to. We started on the 27th of Feb. and have been working hard ever since but really need a break and did so for Shelly's Birthday by taking a weekend off to explore the Island.
View of the Island Where We Dive
Day In The Life Of A Divemaster Trainee
We start our day at the shop at 8am. There is a 9:30 boat that leaves everyday for the morning dive and we essentially help get the boat ready with tanks of air which requires you carry two 80 liter tanks about 100-150 feet. They are heavy and Shelly is so short she really needs to hold them up higher than I do to carry them. We do this all day long. Moving tanks on and off the boat is simply part of the job. At 9am we generally start getting customers, fun divers, and students showing up to start their day and get ready for the morning dive.
Our role in the dive itself changes from day-to-day. Some days we might be performing a skill set with an instructor, academics, or diving with a class or fun divers. We assist the instructors in their classes and fun dives by being another set of hands and eyes underwater. Some of the divers are new at this and to have two experienced and trained divers along for the class helps. Shelly and I on more than one occasion had to retrieve a diver who shoots to the surface all of a sudden, or strays from the group on a fun dive.
We spend the remainder of our time diving and learning. We have a board with our names on it that have the checklist of things that we needed to accomplish to finish our DM. We would help lead dives, lead some ourselves, practice our skills checklist that consisted of the hand motions underwater to teach people how to dive. We learned some knots and how to tie boats up to mooring lines. We also sat in on advanced and open water classes and assisted. Stamina tests were done which included our 400m swim, 800m swim with no arms (only fins mask and snorkel). We had to tread water for 15 minutes, tired diver tow for 100 meters and do an equipment exchange.
The equipment exchange is where we go underwater with an instructor and while using one person's air source, we completely switch all our our gear underwater and then take a 50m swim with the other person's gear. The reason for it, is to provide us with a stressful situation where we have to calm down, breath normally, and handle the stress. It was stressful, and little scary at times for both of us. We had to get a score of 15 for all the tests. Not an easy task. We didn't do all this on in day, but we both got our required 15 and passed everything.
Meeting New Friends Carla and Chris
Diving Without Our Buddy
Shelly and I don't usually work together, I am usually with one class or group and she with another. It was weird not diving with Shelly at first. We had 40 dives together and have never dove as a buddy with anyone else. The first week was a little weird and I felt a little disheveled underwater that first time, without her floating next to me. Since the dives are one tank dives, we come back to the shop in between dives, and gear up for the next one. More hucking tanks and getting ready for the 11:30 dive.
We generally have an hour before dives and have enough time to hang out a bit, and sometimes get a bite to eat. At 11:30 we do the same thing and then again at 2:30pm. We generally get something to eat between the 11:30 and 2:30 dive, even go home and let Buddha outside, then back to the shop for the 2:30 dive. We finish our day at 5pm and have the evening to ourselves, although we are generally tired and hardly make it until 9pm without falling asleep.
Socializing Aspect of The DMT Program
So far we couldn't be happier with our program. We are learning a ton, getting tan, getting in shape, and meeting a lot of great people along the way. We met another couple we meshed with from Nova Scotia, Canada. Carla and Chris are newlyweds of about a year on their delayed honeymoon. They took the open water class, and Shelly sat in on a few of their skills sessions and assisted their instructor. We had a great time with them, and wish they could have stayed longer. Meeting people who dive with the shop has been one of the best things about being in the DMT program. We get the chance to connect with people in a wonderful way while helping to make them better divers.
People come and go from the shop and there is always something or someone new on a daily basis. I'm not going to bore you with anymore details of our skills, but we need to learn how to teach an open water class underwater with "demonstration quality" instruction. This means our underwater hand signals and demonstrations has to be perfect and inline with PADI's regulations. It takes some time and practice to get it, but we are doing well.
Sushi For Shelly's Birthday Dinner
Shelly's Birthday Weekend
Shelly's birthday was on the 8th March and we took the Thursday through Sunday off. We had sushi at a pretty good place called Tako (only sushi place on the island). I bought Shelly a massage and adjustment from a chiropractor from a nearby resort, then we went out for karaoke at the Blue Marlin Restaurant. It was a good day! On Friday we decided to rent a car and go to the Paya Bay Resort on the Northeast side of the island. We wanted some solitude and relaxation and we wanted to spend some time alone. The resort is nice and has been owned by a family for 18 years. 22 acres of wooded area with great paths leading you to one of 3 or 4 private bays. The area isn't open to the public and was pretty far from even the main road.
Bliss Beach - Paya Bay - Roatan, Honduras
Once we got to the resort, they owner came up to us and let us know that it was "Nudist Weekend" and if we were ok with that. We shrugged it off and decided to stay. It wasn't like there were naked people everywhere, only on the beach. We didn't mind, to each their own. Besides, we came all this way and rented a car, we weren't about to go back to West End. A little strange when you are laying on the beach and some guy jogs up to you buck naked to chit chat with ya while you are sitting in our beach chair. We figured while in Rome and slathered up with ample sunscreen on our white bits for an interesting weekend. We were a little worried about the whole nudist thing wondering if we would be eating steak at the restaurant with naked people cheersing eachother. This wasn't the case, it was only nudist weekend on the beaches and coves. This made us a little more comfortable.
Paya Bay Resort
We got a nice room overlooking the large bay with a direct blast of the cool eastern winds that prevail on Roatan. They also have a restaurant with pretty good food with an extremely accommodating staff. There is also Bliss Beach, where they have huts and chairs laid out. On Saturday, we went to another beach called Buccaneer beach. It's on the west side of the peninsula where the resort sits. The wind was strong on the east side, yet the water was calm and nearly no wind at Buccaneer beach. It was great there was a little island with a bridge where we sun bathed and swam. There was a little lagoon, and rock formations everywhere. It was beautiful, secluded, and relaxing all in one.
We wanted to go to a place in Jonesville which is on the south-east side of the island. There is restaurant called Hole in the Wall that is near a mangrove forest that you can only get to by boat. On Sundays, they have all you can eat lobster and steak. We heard however that the owner died recently and they might not be open for business right now, then others said it was.
On The Dock In Jonesville Waiting For The Boat
Jonesville and Hole In The Wall Restaurant
We actually decided to spend the day at Paya Bay at the beach. Guess we couldn't get enough of jogging naked people. Actually, we really didn't have as much beach time as we wanted and we sat and baked on the sand all day long. It was great! We of course weren't able to have a late check out, therefore our stuff was in our car while we were at the beach. Buddha got to come and get some sun too. We left Paya Bay at about 5pm and made it to Jonesville around 5:30 and were we waited on the dock for the boat to come pick us up. When the boat arrived to take us to Hole In The Wall, we were told that they were closed and that they are only doing lunch these days. Therefore... no lobster. We rode home hungry and went shopping instead while we had a car to put things in at Eldon's Supermarket in Coxen Hole. Once we got back to West End, we ate Malaysian Noodles from Off Yer Noodle in town. Unbelievable weekend!! We loved it.
Shelly and Buddha Are Too
Change In Perspective
We have learned some valuable lessons during our Divemaster Training. One of the biggest lessons learned is that no matter how much we think we know, there is much more to learn. We thought we were really great divers and we were, however when in training like this, you learn from people with more experience. It's humbling. We realized that we weren't as good as we thought we were and had to humble ourselves to learn from those that knew more.
Life is full of these lessons. Learning to humble yourself is essential to learning. The minute you think you know it all, learning ceases. We want to spend our lives learning and have learned that we need to keep an open mind to new perspectives and ways of doing things. Skill and experience is all relative. No matter how much you think you know, someone knows more. Becoming educated in any area increases your personal knowledge and we have gained knowledge not only in diving, but how to learn from people who are times younger and less experienced in life.