x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

A day in the life of a dive instructor in Musandam

A day in the life of Ricco Guioguio, a dive master in Musandam, Oman, who dreams of starting his own business back home in the Philippines.

Rico Guioguio, who typically does four dives in a day’s work, prepares to teach a student near Dibba in Oman last month. Christopher Pike / The National
Rico Guioguio, who typically does four dives in a day’s work, prepares to teach a student near Dibba in Oman last month. Christopher Pike / The National

Rico Guioguio is a dive instructor with a travel agency in Musandam. When the 44-year-old from the Philippines is not busy with dives and tours at Al Marsa Musandam based in Dibba, Oman, he dreams of opening his own dive centre back home. Here he talks about a day in his life watching fish and corals in the Gulf of Oman.

5.30am

I wake up early as we plan to do four dives a day if it is an overnight trip, and three on a day trip. When I have dives, I have a cup of coffee for breakfast and some biscuits because if you are full, diving is not good. I live with a Filipino colleague in Dibba Al Biyah close to the office. Around 8am I come to the office and assemble equipment such as oxygen tanks, suits and weights.

9am

I brief the visitors at the office and the trip starts on a dhow. On average we have around 10 people and we take all of them together. We can take 25 people maximum at a time. One dhow has one dive master. We pair the visitors and then I go one by one with each pair for the dives. The hardest part of the job is that sometimes visitors are too excited. When the guests are too excited, they forget lunchtime and they need to eat to get the energy for diving. There can also be bad weather any time and that’s a challenge. We have four dhows with air conditioning and one open dhow. We usually take a dhow with air conditioning as it is more comfortable even during winter. Our busiest season is October to December.

11am

Around this time, we would have our second dive. Each dive lasts for around 50 minutes. After the first dive we have our breakfast of eggs, beans, sausages and juices. We recommend drinking plenty of water, especially during summer.

1pm

This is our lunchtime after the second dive. We usually have grilled fish, chicken, lamb, salad, sweets, rice and bread. After lunch we rest for one or one-and-a-half hours.

3pm

We get ready for the third dive, and we move along the coast for the diving. I had a local guy who showed me where you go diving. Besides I too go diving and exploring with my colleagues. We are a group of around 10 divers. Here underwater currents are stronger and people need to have experienced divers with them. We usually avoid those places for safety reasons. Most visitors are certified divers. We get some students and we teach them in shallow water first and then take them out to the deeper water. We also do snorkelling. Sometimes the guests request to go to other locations where they think they can see more fish.

7pm

We have the fourth dive, which is a night dive, around this time before dinner. Inexperienced divers are not allowed to go for night dives. We have special underwater torches with which we see nocturnal animals such as octopus and crabs. We also see polyps and shells, and the colours are brighter at night than during day. We can also focus on fish because they don’t move much during night as they sleep. We instruct [visitors] not to touch corals and teach them how to control buoyancy so that they don’t kick the corals. Some corals, such as fire corals, and sea urchins are poisonous. Usually a diver can get stung by a sea urchin but it is simple to treat. We put vinegar or lemon juice and after about an hour the pain is gone. For day-long dives, we are back around 7pm. I put back the gear in the office and go home.

8pm

I watch TV or talk to my family back home. I have three children between 12 years and 17 years. I cook beefsteak or chicken adobo with vegetables for dinner, and have it with my colleague.

11pm

It’s a long day, and I go to sleep. I want to have my own dive centre back in my country, in Bohol, where I am from. I hope to open it next year. The corals there are nice and visibility is good at 25 metres to 30 metres. Here the visibility is around 15 metres.

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