From The Publisher

August 7, 2017 Edition
BY: CARRIE DUNCAN

Note: Carrie is in Amsterdam this week doing God only knows what, so we're going to reprint one of her columns here. Many people have asked her to rerun some of her columns now that she's slacking off writing them every issue, but she won't so we'll just sneak one in while she's gone. If you like the idea, email her at carrie@gringogazette.com and tell her and maybe she will repeat some of her better ones.

I learned to dive while living in Las Vegas for the year I was a card counter. That’s a whole other story for another time, and anyway I wrote about that a couple of years ago, it’s not my fault if you’re not paying attention.

Las Vegas is known for a lot of things, but an ocean isn’t one of them. I took the classroom part of the open water dive course on the campus of UNLV, (go Runnin’ Rebels!), when I was very young, from a very old instructor who worked on the Hoover Dam when he was very young. He regaled us with tales of life on the dam, most of which involved ghoulish dismemberment and grisly death. We were thrilled with the stories, although the many ways a diver could die was probably not what we needed to hear. The old codger delighted in spooking the flippers off us and those stories are most of what I retained from the course.

When it came time to hit the water, we couldn’t see anything more than four inches from the end of our nose in that lake, and that freaked us out even more when we recalled the old man’s stories of nine foot long, people-eating catfish, which I now know is not true. We had to travel to Long Beach, California to take our final test in real open water, which that day was only slightly above freezing. It was so cold and so unpleasant and my fingers were so numb I couldn’t get my wet suit unzipped. I chalked my new hobby up to another of my hair brained schemes run amuck and tossed my hard won dive card in a drawer. A cold sport is not for me.

That is until I found myself bumming around the Caribbean for a year with nothing to do. That’s another whole other story too, which if you missed it, is because you snoozed through another of my gems. Really, there isn’t much I can do if you don’t pay close attention. I suggest you spring for an annual subscription and carefully collect each issue. You could use the info and I could use the bucks.

I was sitting in the bar at the Georgetown airport on Grand Cayman, when I met these two handsome dudes from Indianapolis who were there to test dive lights for Ikelite underwater lights. They planned to spend the week working underwater at night, headquartering out of the Sunset Dive club. So what the hell, I helped them pile their many trunks of equipment onto their rented Jeep, then I climbed up on top of itall, held on to the roll bar under me with only one hand, (like a bronc rider, you see), and we all zoomed off for my next adventure.

After a few weeks I became a fixture around the club, and when they figured out I wasn’t leaving, they hired me. I would like to say I was hired for at least a divemaster position, but the fact was, due to my rather thin diving resume, I was not employable in any important capacity. No, my job was just to cruise the dining room every morning, plunk down next to couples, chat them up, and see if I could get the woman to go out on the boat with me. The resort’s management felt that if the women were happy, their men would dive more, maybe even stay more days, and hopefully come back sooner.

But many of these wives and girlfriends were reluctant to be the only woman out on the ocean, especially when they knew their man would be under water most of the day. So my job was to be a companion to them. Not very exciting and now I’m wondering why I’m even writing about it, but it was fun at the time. My biggest challenge on this job was staying awake, as every time I get on a boat I have to take Dramamine to ward off sea sickness. That stuff always puts me to sleep. But if I didn’t take my meds, sure enough I would get sick, on even the calmest day. I am here to tell you that it is possible to barf into your regulator and live through it. I asked in advance how that would work out since I knew it was only a matter of time. Good thing I got instructions on the protocol of dive puking, because that probably saved my life. When the time came, I was ready with best practices info.

My entire 13 months in the Caribbean, which was a fabulous trip many people would kill for, was mostly spent on the seas, fogged out on Dramamine. How can one sleep for an entire year? By being cursed with bad inner ears, that’s how. So I came home and swore off boats forever (although I have been on a few since).

Next I took up flying small airplanes, far from the seas for sure. Did you know one can keep a plane from falling out of the air while barfing into a sick sack with one hand and holding the yoke with the other hand? Neither did my passengers, who were unnerved by that scene. Like I said, I’m cursed with bad inner ears. But that’s not the worst affliction to have. Not by a long shot. But that’s another story for another time.