Over the past three days, Tyler, Pete, Natasha and I have been pursuing our PADI Open Water Certification at Sun Divers on Roatan. It has been a thrilling, tiring, and nerve-wracking time, during which most of us have had some pretty intense bouts of being anxious and uncertain about the whole breathing-under-sixty-feet-of-water thing.

(Well, everyone except Tyler, who seems impervious to fear, and whose favorite pastimes include sinking to the bottom of a pool and staying there, and who would give anything to float around, weightless, in space.)

On the first day of class, everything felt foreign and wrong. The gear felt awkward and heavy (until we were under water, that is), and my new mask leaked continuously. The confined shallow area where we were practicing was murky and uninviting, and I was consumed with an unexpected panic, stemming from feeling vaguely claustrophobic. As well, having to perform a series of uncomfortable-yet-necessary safety exercises meant that being underwater was more stressful than fun.

Thanks to the calming, comforting presence of our teacher, Ellie, however, we all stuck with it. I could not ask for a better person to guide us into the world of scuba. She's warm, reassuring, knowledgeable, laid back and light-hearted all at the same time. She empathetically allayed each of our fears and concerns, and helped us recognize that everything was going to be okay. I really cannot imagine learning with anyone else!

Thank you, Ellie! You're the best!

Now, all four of us are scuba certified. The stresses of our first day seem far away, and I honestly can't believe I was so nervous. As it turns out, scuba diving is far easier and more enjoyable than learning to scuba dive. I'm so glad we all stuck with it. How magical and freeing is to be weightless underwater! To explore new, fascinating worlds I wouldn't otherwise be able to experience! To meet sea-turtles face to face, to witness the majesty of an eagle ray, and to discover the dorkiest, cutest fish ever: the sharp-nosed puffer.