“When I am down there (underwater) diving, I am in another world. Its quiet and peaceful. You get calm and relaxed.  It puts you in a sense that you are in the clouds.” -Marco Supaul

What would you do if someone asked you to join a dive class? Say you are 15 years-old, hanging out with your dad on the pier, looking for something to do?  Seems like a good fit right?

Absolutely!

Marco Supaul of Placencia, Belize thought so, and since that day he was approached by Patricia “Patty” Ramirez of Splash Dive Center, he has never looked back.

“It was 2008 and I was 15-years old.  My dad said, ‘Go right ahead.’ so I joined up.  Patty has a program where kids from Belize can learn how to dive, no matter if they can pay or not. She loves diving and she decided to make it a part of her business to help train young people to learn to love the sea.”  said Supaul.

A natural in the water, Supaul began fishing and ocean swimming with his father, uncles and cousins, when he was young.  “We would go out every weekend.  Its part of what we do here. Its a lot of fun for me.”

With Splash, students begin by attending weekend classes, learning the basics of diving through the PADI open water course.  “Patty has a special way of explaining things that people can understand.  We go step by step.”  said Marco.  The course continues for 5 weeks, finishing with the dives required to meet Open Water Certification. “Patty looks for understanding and a reassurance that we can handle ourselves. ” said Marco.  Students can continue on for further certification, and Splash offers dives to the program’s students, when they have group tours.

Supaul took to the program like fish to water. “I completed the Open Water and then went on to the Advanced Course, Rescue, and I am close to being a Divemaster.”

Supaul is now working for Patty and attending school in Business Management.  “When I finish with training,  I will be the youngest instructor in Placencia.”

When I met with him, Marco had been working for Patty since May of 2011, moving from checking equipment and cleaning the offices and dive storage spaces, to taking reservations and managing front-of-the-house walk-ins. “One day, I will manage the shop. I know Patty believes in me.  She had help from people who believed in her back in Honduras when she had a gym.  She is now passing it on.” he said brightly.

A smart young man, with an infectious smile, Supaul recounted his experience with the Caribbean’ s famous whale sharks that arrive during the full moons between April and June.

“It was Easter of 2009. It was amazing. I was like, ‘Oh my god! These are so huge!’ I could sense that something was behind me. It was a whale shark and it was enormous.  It was attracted to the bubbles of my regulator. It thought that they were fish eggs. I had to back up and swim away from him.”  Excited and also filled with a rush, Supaul went on to recount how “incredible” and “awesome”  it was to be so close to the gentle giants.

“When you enjoy what you are doing, you will enjoy life.”  You can see Supaul is doing exactly that.

Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

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