These days, it’s nearly impossible for a mother to finds ways to bond with her teenage son that don’t include X-Box, dirt bikes or soccer. Family vacations are a great time to reconnect, but in planning a family trip to Curacao, I had an epiphany. Why not ask my teenage son to join me on a dive? Diving could be a great multi-generational activity.
I’m not an expert diver. I’m a novice – what’s commonly known as a non-certified “resort diver.” I love diving and have experienced half a dozen Caribbean reefs and shipwrecks. I’ve never sought to get certified because I live in New England, and swimming in frigid, ice cold water with almost no visibility is not my idea of a good time.
But Curacao’s calm east coast beaches offer up to 100 feet of visibility and warm, inviting, reef-laden waters which would lend itself to a perfect first dive.
When I mentioned the idea to my son, Nick, his grin spoke his approval. Score one for mom and let the bonding begin!
The preparation started before we even set foot outside our snow-encrusted door. I gave Nick a variety of books to read, ranging from “how to” guides about equipment to fictitious stories that involved teen diving adventures. These books ensured that dive language, breathing technique, undersea situations, equipment function, and safety measures would be somewhat familiar in the forthcoming dive lesson.
We decided to do the dive about half-way into our visit in Curacao. After around an hour of instruction by Ollie at Caribbean Sea Sports, at the Marriott Curacao Resort & Emerald Casino, we were cleared for a guided exploration of ocean life at depths of 20 to 40 feet, which is where a good number of tropical fish hang out.
There are many possible ways to begin a dive, but we started with a very non-threatening beach launch which allows you to walk in from the shore and very gradually descend into the depths of the sea – the most perfect way for a first-time diver.
As we plunged into the 82-degree Fahrenheit crystal turquoise waters, the ethereal vibe of the sea juxtaposed against myriad coral, sea grasses, and marine life were capable of captivating even the most “I’m-too-cool-for-that” youngster. Trumpet fish darted from behind brain coral; lionfish splayed their multitude of spire-like fins; and let’s not forget the toothy grin of the moray eel protecting its domain.
What teenage boy can resist such a visual feast? Certainly, not this one; our twin gray-green eyes locked, and I was rewarded with unguarded enthusiasm expressing his wordless approval.
For me, the dive was unlike any other dive. It all came rushing back to me – how awed I was on my first dive, the sensation of being in a whole other world, and feeling so privileged for the opportunity to observe sea life on its own terms. Seeing it anew through the eyes of my offspring, well it just doesn’t get any better than that.
The words came later, as Nick recounted the otherworldly sights and sounds of the sea to the rest of the family at our celebration dinner of Indonesian rijsttafel (numerous meats, seafood and side dishes served in small portions, accompanied by various rice preparations). We even talked about the possibility of a future trip to the Caribbean to get a PADI certification for deeper dives.
Yup, I was hero for the day. At least, for this day.
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