Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mombasa Bends

Mombasa, Kenya
19-21 January 2011

The first thing i learned in Mombasa, Kenya is that the rental car companies, particularly Budget Rental Car, have no internet connection so if you forgot to bring your contract that you set up online you are out of luck. The second thing is that that i learned is that the car you get probably won't be the car you reserved. We rented a small SUV and ended up with the an old beat up RAV-4 with 166,000km that was falling apart that belonged to the cousin of the person who worked behind the Budget counter. It took about half an hour to annotate all the damage to the vehicle before we could leave. The third thing I learned right away in Mombasa, Kenya is that since we were borrowing the family car, we had family responsibilities- like we had to to drop off the owner of the car at his house since he was so nice as to bring the car to the airport for us. Luckily i didn't make the car reservation, so my friend who did got to go through the aggravation of working it all out and then driving through town to the hotel. The fifth thing we learned is that there are no maps- Budget didn't have any and we didn't bring any with us. The welcome desk was kind enough to give us a map of Kenya but nobody had any idea where the hotel was located besides saying it was on the North Coast. Eventually we found it- after some extended exploring.

We got a pretty good package deal at the Serena Hotel (located some 30km from the airport) that included breakfast and buffet dinners and i ate too much. The food was good and we spent the first couple days working it off scuba diving, lounging, or exploring Haller Park. One of my friends earned her PADI Open Water Certification in 2.5 days by studying all night, doing pool dives in the morning, and open water dives in the afternoon. She did very well and is excited to dive Zanzibar next week!

However, i got bent. We did two dives and broke all the scuba rules and completely blew the dive tables when we followed the plan of the Assistant Dive Master. The Dive Master was the figurehead for the PADI school and was never around. He refused to go on a dive with us- it seemed that he just allowed the Kenyans to use his name to run the program. I was dumb and just followed the assistant dive masters even when they told us not to worry about breaking the rules. The first cardinal rule we broke was to dive deep first. We dove 20 meters for 36 mins, but then dove again in less than 30 mins. For the second dive we dove 24 meters for 37 mins when according to the dive tables we should have only gone to that depth for 9 mins, if that, after such a short surface interval.

During the short break between dives I felt like crap. The tiny pitching boat on the open sea outside the protective barrier reef made my face turn green and i was holding on for my dear life so i didn't question the uber short surface interval- I just wanted to get back in the water so i would feel better. I did feel better for a bit but after 10-15 mins on the bottom (around 24 meters) my nausea came back again and i felt like taking out my regulator and puking. The fun had gone out of the dive and my field of vision narrowed. I didn't care about the huge sea turtles swimming by or the white tipped reef sharks we found at the end- i just wanted out of the water and to get back on shore. Out of the water i felt better, but back on shore i struggled to rinse and put my gear away and then shuffled back to my room to take a nap. Mild headaches kept me from sleeping and i watched a movie with my dive buddy who was having some blurred vision. I thought it was just the continuation of being sea-sick and i crashed early.

The next day the mild headaches came and went as we explored Haller Park, a limestone quarry that was converted into a wildlife park in the 70s. It cost about $10 USD to enter the park and a guide took us around to see the giraffes, the hippos who were hiding, the fish farm, and the snake house. Really it was an overgrown zoo, but it was still admirable that they had turned a pit into an ecosystem with ponds, circulating water, and imported animals. I felt like crap again after walking around the park for an hour or two and decided to skip the afternoon dive- and that could have saved my life. While i rested i tried to calculate the pressure groups for my dive log and the online calculators kept saying there was an error with the dive. So i did the numbers using the PADI dive tables and it became apparent that the second dive was stupid and dangerous.

Resolutions: (1) Join DAN just in case i am diving and something goes wrong they can get me help or me to a hyperbaric chamber. (2) Buy a good dive computer that will help me calculate my pressure groups. (3) Don't just accept what the dive master tells me- double check the plan and don't dive stupid!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you're okay. Hope you have a better experience next time. Stay safe. -Josh