(Erica is a C5 quadriplegic and a program director from Iowa)
Earlier this year I decided to take a leap of faith and booked a trip to Bonaire, a small country in the Dutch Caribbean, to go SCUBA diving. It was the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep and I stumbled upon a adaptive diving trip. I had done it before, but this trip claimed it was going to be different.
According to another avid diver, Bonaire is one of the premier locations of diving in the world. With warm water and crystal clear views, I was told that this would put my previous diving experiences to shame.
After my first dive, I can tell you that my previous experiences were indeed put to shame. I’ve never been in water so clear with so many hundreds of fish swimming around me without a care in the world. I was hooked. I am a C-5 quadriplegic and I was certified last year in Florida and was excited to get back in the water.
I booked a trip with A1 Scuba & Craig Hospital out of Denver, Colorado. In total, I dove on six of the eight days, with two dives each day. I dove with three dive buddies and by the second day, we were dialed in.
My buoyancy was perfect and for the first time in my 12 years as a quadriplegic, I was able to swim freely and explore a reef completely on my own. At a depth of approximately 60 feet, I was able to go in any direction I wanted to and I had no worries about what I could and couldn’t do. I cannot explain what an amazing feeling this was and it was honestly the most free I have felt since being in my chair.
It was for me, the equivalent to flying and it was nothing short of a dream for me. I can never thank my dive buddies that accompanied me on this trip enough for the gift that they gave me and I look forward to future diving and future experiences. Sometimes the best experiences in life come on a whim, or a wild idea in the middle of the night.