Life begins in Cozumel…I dedicate myself to getting up early every morning, biking to the boat, diving all day then biking home. I made some great friends with some of the clients on the boat…met a few people on the island with whom I spent some of my free time. But what mattered to me was getting my dives in, training to be a Divemaster…and then BOOM! the IDC began and I got in (Thanks to the relationship between my boat and the Course Director on the island). Then for 15 days straight, I was either diving or in a classroom learning how to instruct from early in the morning till late at nite. Finally I took the Instructor’s Exam in Playa and just like that I became a Scuba Diving instructor.
Having started my journey with the desire to become a Scuba Instructor, I felt, made obtaining that certification easy. Yes, I had also become a Tech Diver during the prior summer and had completed the various certifications and dives required to qualify me to even get into the Instructor’s Development Course. But that’s not where I was truly tested. Shortly after I completed the requirements for my Instructor’s certification, I found out that my unemployment was going to stop because I lived in Mexico. This would basically mean I was no longer going to be making an income. The boat I worked for could not be expected to suddenly support me. I wasn’t bringing any clients on board to make them any money and I was too new at being an Instructor to expect it to support me. So I went back to bartending. I’m an American, I know that many Americans come to this island to vacation, so let’s decide where did I want to work?
In answering this question, first I needed to learn the Immigration laws of Mexico. It seems as though an establishment must first have at least 10 Nationals on staff before they can even consider hiring a non-Resident (which, let’s face it, is what I am here). Should the establishment decide to hire me, then they would need to convince Immigration why they were giving me the job over another National. Let’s recap now. At this point, I speak virtually no Spanish, I may be a very experienced bartender but why would anyone hire me? Maybe if they had a strong American clientele, I might have a shot. Well I found a place with a huge local presence as well as a very American clientele. It was a win-win for everyone. I work at the main bar in the back which we only open if we have 3 or more ships in port…if not, I’m off for the day…free to dive, should I choose. WOW! How awesome is that? I probably have the only “part-time” full time job here! I spent the next 6 months balancing my life between working behind the bar 2-3 days per week and diving with my boat on my days off. It was great!
I took that experience as the Universe testing me…I was desperate, I needed to support myself…I had spent my savings on my IDC and what gear I needed that I hadn’t purchased before I moved down here. I asked the Universe for a job…the Universe delivered….just like that…that was easy. But what did I really want? I spent my time underwater asking myself that question. Suddenly I wanted to look at the big picture. I needed to recap again. Was I crazy? What type of silly delusion was I living? Was I reading the signs wrong? When I lost my unemployment, should I have taken that as a sign that I should have given up and gone home? What did I have waiting for me back in NYC? Yes, tons of friends. Yes, a brother and his wife and two (going on 3) kids. I’m sure I could have gotten my old job back as well as my apartment. I mean I was only gone 4 months at this point.
But shouldn’t I have taken the fact that I was able to find a job within 24 hours to be another kind of sign? I had lost my mother 5 years prior to my leaving NYC…a woman who had raised me to see the world. Not to get married and have kids to give her grandchildren…she was fine never having been a Grandmother. Shouldn’t I read this ease in my finding a job to be the sign for me to keep going? Shouldn’t I keep pushing to continue learning about this new country…culture…people…language? But what happens after I’ve learned it? Will I become bored again? In search of another adventure? When do I stop diving? Do I wait until my health has made it so that I have to stop diving? Or will I see another sign? Will I see something or will something happen to me that will satisfy all of my desires to keep looking around the next corner? Something that made life in NYC very challenging was that there was always something around the next corner. Is that what made me move to this tiny island floating in the Caribbean? My desire to catch my breath and realize that what I’m looking for might be right in front of me? Or did I need to travel those many miles in order to find what it was that I had been looking for all along? But at this point in my adventure, I was just left with questions, though knowing full well that there was still something I had been meant to find, just not knowing what form it was going to take. So for the time being, I just kept diving…