So many divers! I like it.
It is good to see so many dive bumper stickers and logos around. Driving to/from/around town seeing crates and bags of gear in the beds of pickups. Lots of tanks strapped down. People in diving t-shirts everywhere, many of them with the bearing of pros, many of them obviously here on vacation.
This is a divers' place and it is good to see.
Living in NY it was always a bit remarkable to chance meet another diver. Even on Oahu; most people there are surfers and freedivers. Lots of locals and some visitors are certified to dive, but they weren't really divers. It is not a divers' place.
Here I feel surrounded by the tribe at all times. Recreational divers, tech divers, cave divers: they're ever-present.
There are some drawbacks, obviously.
The state of modern training is well known both at the recreational and technical levels. There are lots of instructors and instructor trainers who... let's say "could be doing better." People who allow themselves to be beholden enough to whatever influences -- time, weather, crazy shop owners, ignorance, ego, money -- that even the spirit of standards becomes something malleable and easily bent to the will. They aren't bad people, frequently not even bad divers. They are just... unfocused?
Being in a divers' place means being surrounded by these people, their behaviors, and the divers they produce. One hears and sees evidence of past and indications of oncoming trainwrecks constantly.
However, there are just as many people leaning hard over the opposite side of the pendulum while it is peaking over the opposite side of its swing. The good guys. Divers, instructors, and ITs who believe in this sport, working consistently, conscientiously evaluating themselves through introspection and as a peer-group to avoid normalization of deviance.
To be in this place, to which people travel year-round from all points on the compass because it truly is some of the best reef and cave diving on the planet, to see all the bumper stickers... is, for me, to be reminded constantly of the need for the good guys. And how to be one of them.
Sometimes it is just as valuable to have a reminder of what not to do, or a model of where slippery slopes lead.
It's also valuable as a reminder that slippery slopes or no, it's all just a sport... a particularly stupid, lazy sport. That we all participate in because we love it and, slippery slopes or no, we do all strive to be good at it. (Even if some of us do, actually, suck.)