2000 dives and counting!
There are probably many ways to define happiness. There might also be several was to define luck. I am happy and lucky because by pursuing dreams and challenges, I have found joy and discovered new challenges I never thought about.
I entered into the diving world thanks to mountain biking. Two years ago, after finishing for the second time a five stage race in Costa Rica, I met a wonderful person who suggested I should check out diving in Roatan. I found diving the natural extension of mountaineering, which in turn is the first sport that introduce me into all those related to the mountains, including mountain biking.
On the mountains, you have to deal with the lack of pressure which reduces oxygen particles concentration into what we call 'thin air'. You learn to observe and appreciate the world from above. While diving, you have to deal with the increase of pressure, which has a direct effect not only in oxygen but other gases such as nitrogen. You learn to observe and appreciate a new world from below.
Finally, I was lucky enough to meet J.C.Martin Cabrera Deheza. He was my Open Water instructor and become at last, the reason why I came back to Roatan for my Dive Master instruction.
As a fellow Argentinean with a lot of experience in diving, I could not resist sharing some quality time with Martin while I questioned him about diving.
You logged more than two thousand dives so far. Is there anything that still surprises you underwater?
Martin: Yes of course. Finding new creatures still surprises me. In fact, those creatures have always been down there. It is ourselves that the more we dive, the more we adjust our brains to discover new creatures and fish that have body shapes we never thought of. I believe some sort of 'unconscious' transformation happens within our brain. That surprises me!
I have dove for so many years (five) in Roatan that diving sites don't surprise me anymore, which doesn't mean I don't like them any more, but the opposite!
You have certified more than 300 people. As an instructor, what do you learn from your students?
Martin: Yes indeed. What I continue learning is that I still have things to learn. As they are people and not machines, I always hear new things from them.
What place does diving occupy in your life?
Martin: During the last five years occupy a big part. I did my first dive in Pto. Piramide (Argentina) and the second one in Cozumel (Mexico). Since I arrived in Roatan five years ago, diving is what I do every day of my life. I work six days a week and dive from two to four times each day. All my social activity turns around the diving world. Even my girlfriend is a diving instructor and we talk about diving a lot. Currently, mi life is diving.
What would you tell to someone who has never dove?
Martin: I would tell you something that I was told when I first arrived in Roatan. Someone told me that what I knew about this island was only one half. The other half was down the water. Someone who visits a Caribbean island will be missing that half if he/she doesn't dive. Besides, the feeling of achieving neutral buoyancy must be similar to the lack of gravity. When you reach the edge of a wall an can continue over it, you don't fall like in a mountain you will. Somehow, diving is like being able to fly.
Let's suppose you chose to live you life as a fish and that you could become one.
Which fish from Roatan's reef would you wish to be?
Martin: I would have loved to be a bird, out of the water. Therefore, I decide to become a spotted eagle ray. They move so preciously underwater that you can't help thinking they are flying.
Could you imagine a world without reef corals?
Martin: Unfortunately yes. You only have to pay attention to global warming and the pollution of the seas. Year by year and little by little the world is loosing its coral reefs. It is certainly not what I would like to see. If we loose our reefs, a big chunk of sea biodiversity will die.
Do you think that the increase popularity of diving as a sport could contribute further to endanger reefs?
Martin: While I followed my Bachelor in Tourism I learned what is called 'loading capacity'. Any natural area has a loading maximum capacity. It would be good to find out the one that corresponds to Roatan's reefs. Often, more tourists mean more divers that results in more income for the diving industry. In other words, the amount of divers might not the problem. Instead, we need to focus on the dive sites poor management and lack of legislation. As an example, when you dive in Galapagos Islands there's always a marine park ranger with the dive groups. I am not sure if we can implement such a system here but we do have the capacity to better train our divemasters to protect the reefs.
If you could spend an entire day with either John Scot Haldane (demonstrated how much excess nitrogen the body could hold before bubbles resulted) or Jacques Cousteau (who invented together with Emile Gagnan the underwater breath on-demand regulator). With whom would you spend it?
Martin: I think I would choose Jacques. He developed the breath on-demand regulator and I would really like to dive with him. One could only wonder how many stories he might have had to share. However, I would find interesting to talk to Haldane as well!
Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
Martin: I myself working in my own business. I am not sure if it will be within the diving industry, but definitely related to tourism and it might be back in Argentina. I wont quit diving though, I continue diving all my life!
What do you think about SUUNTO diving instruments?
Martin: I never had a Suunto computer, simply because they haven't been within the scope of my price range. I know Suunto diving instruments since I started diving and at the time, I always wanted a Suunto Stinger. Suunto diving watches design, compact size and durability are certainly the characteristics that make this brand unique.
Thank you Martin!