I’ve met so many wonderful people on the road that it always left me inspired and motivated to make something better out of my life. So this series serves as an inspirational series talking about interesting and thought-provoking encounters. Hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me!
I’m going to start this series by talking about my lovely Italian instructor I met on my Advanced Open water certification in Nilaveli, Sri Lanka. I loved her adventurous and carefree spirit, and was totally smitten by her!
What I found fascinating was that she has been scuba diving as a professional from over 17 years while living and working from different corners of the world. Let’s hear from the stunning lady herself!
So, Cinzia, tell me a bit about yourself
Hi, I’m Italian, a scuba diving instructor, currently living and working in the northeast coast of Sri Lanka in Nilaveli with Island Scuba. I’ve been here for a few months now, and love this country for its diving, food, and culture.
What made you take up scuba diving as a profession?
My first dive was in the Maldives where I worked as a tour operator. I did one dive and fell absolutely in love since the first moment in the water. I knew right then that this was going to be my job.
I worked with the same agency for a while, and they sent me to places where I could dive as well. I went to Egypt where I dived in the Red sea, finished my dive courses, and transitioned into a job as a professional scuba diver. It was in the year 2000, that I had my first underwater experience. And in 2001, I worked myself up to divemaster and then became an instructor of course.
But from the first moment I was underwater, I was in love!
Read: Diving in the Maldives
Where have you lived and worked as a scuba diving instructor?
I’ve been working as a professional scuba diver for around 17 years. There were some breaks when I went to Italy to spend time with family and friends. I was in Arabic countries for quite a while especially in Egypt, and Oman. I lived and worked in the Carribean for a while, then Africa – particularly in Tanzania and Kenya which I really liked. And also a bit of Asia as a diving instructor in Maldives and Indonesia.
Everywhere, it was a different experience with a different landscape, different kinds of people and varying culture. I’ve had my share of good and bad experiences as well.
Best and worst part of your job as a scuba diver?
The worst is that, sometimes, you don’t get a lot of time for yourself. Sometimes you work really long hours for 12 – 14 hours a day. And in the season time, you seldom get a day off. Also, there are only a few places in the world where you can make great money as a diver, else it’s the passion that drives you.
Having said that, the best part is that I really love animals and I love nature. I want to do something good for people. From my side, I try to spread my passion for diving with beginners. And build awareness about conserving the environment, learn to respect fishes and corals, and overall make a positive impact on marine life.
You must have done thousands of dives. What would you consider as your best dive?
Indeed I’ve done over 5000 dives. Well, if you ask me, all the places I’ve been to have been amazing! For the corals, there are some places in Red sea which is not spoiled, and not many tourists go there. And I really liked diving in Oman.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country as well. You see smiles everywhere. When you go outside, people smile at you, the weather is good, and it definitely is a good place to dive at. Also, every place is different. While the east coast of Sri Lanka has abundant corals, while the west coast of Sri Lanka – Colombo — where we go in October, has tons of wrecks.
Any memorable experience that you’d like to share?
Yes. Definitely. I had a wonderful encounter with a family of manatees in the Dominican Republic. They are friendly mammals — very very big, and we happened to come across two parent manatees with their two babies. They came to us, they were hugging us, we dived together, and we took pictures, it was a fun day.
Also, I had an incredible encounter with a whale shark, in Oman. Also, there was a dive site near Honduras, where we dived amongst 28 reef sharks and it was very nice.
A whale shark encounter in Sri Lanka.
Who do you think can go scuba diving?
I suggest everyone can try scuba diving. It’s very easy, and everyone can learn it. You can see a different world out there.
Of course, there are some medical issues in which you’ll have to avoid – like if you’re prone to heart attacks, have injuries, breathing issues, and so on.
Have you personally seen changes over the years in marine life?
Unfortunately, it happens in many places – sometimes due to human intervention, sometimes reef damage, an increase in temperature resulting in bleaching of corals. After many years, I returned to the Red Sea, to find fewer fishes than before and there weren’t any sharks there which are really important for the marine ecosystem. It saddened me!
Where would you suggest for a scuba diving holiday?
It entirely depends on what you want. If you’d like to be in nature, and at the same time — dive, and have fun — I would suggest the Carribean. If want only diving, then choose a nice place for diving — might be south of Red Sea, Maldives, or any islands in the Indian ocean – they have a very rich marine life. Madagascar for instance. If you’d like culture and diving – Sri Lanka would be a good option.
Any parting thoughts?
Yes. The key aspect to keep in mind while diving is to respect animals and nature. Also, it’s important to keep the environment clean. I’ve seen places full of plastic — it’s really sad.
We need to be more aware and understand more about these underwater creatures. Most of them are friendly, and they don’t harm you unless you harm them.
This ended my brief interview with Cinzia.
Hope you had a great time reading through her experience, and hopefully, it inspired enough you to explore the beautiful underwater world.
If you’d like to dive with Island Scuba and Cinzia in Sri Lanka (which I highly recommend) — you can reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Diving in Colombo is seasonal – they operate out of Nilaveli between April and October, and Colombo between November to March.