Complaint: Operation Wallacea isn’t a bad corporation. I support what they do and hope they continue to do so for many years to come. It is not the corporation which I have an issue with but rather a particular branch of it. Specifically, the diving that is offered in Honduras and one particularly unpleasant individual which I had the misfortune of encountering there. This seems to be a running theme with the negative reviews which I have been browsing. So to set the scene, our group of 6th form students arrive from a particularly arduous journey, only to walk into our designated rooms to find a family of cockroaches has already moved in. The room itself is an unsanitary mess and this is coming a group which, the previous week, had switched out flushing toilets for a pit dug into the ground without a seconds thought. It was at this point that we had a quick dinner (which was very good standard actually. Hats off to the kitchen staff). We were subjected to what I consider to be the most boring experience of my life. Every day we all sat in an unventilated room with only a small fan in the corner trying to (unsuccessfully) blow the warm air around whilst a small, plump woman gives a presentation about the surrounding reefs. ‘How interesting!’ you may think. ‘Surely it was not that bad?’ Think again. This was a presentation consisting of slides completely filled with text, which said ‘lecturer’ would read off word for word for over an hour in an almost impressively monotone voice. I cannot even speak with the dull tone with which she managed to keep up for hour after hour. We prayed for that wonder ours moment when the next slide came up black and the travesty would be over for at least another 22 hours. At this point she would turn to the audience and ask if there were any questions. A slightly redeeming quality about it all was that due to that being the only time she actually faced the audience, she did not notice that the majority of us had either foresee the inevitable and surrendered to the idea of catching 40 winks, involuntarily been out to sleep or simply just died if the unrelenting boredom. Not that is was much use asking a question anyway. It was either one of the obvious ones which were asked by the teachers out of pity to fill the awkward silence or god forbid an intellectual question was asked by one of the students, to which the answer was always ‘I’m not sure. Let me check and get back to you’. She never did. Interestingly enough, I do not recall whether or not this was the same she-devil who was to turn an otherwise amazing trip into one which I would rather not recall. I’m any case, both were a nightmare. You can probably imagine our disappointment when we walked past all the chatty, muscular instructors to see an uninspiring woman at the end of the pier trying to squeeze into an XXXL diving suit, despite the elasticity of the rubber having reached beyond it’s normal limit. Not that I reserve prejudices against obesity but after being drilled on all the health requirements of diving, this woman did clearly not fit the bill. Just saying.. To start off with, we were a group of 4 (all of us boys). As none of us had any open water experience yet, we were sent to a sea water pool to have a refresher course. A good policy if you ask me. Before we went in, one of our group made it absolutely clear that had had a serious condition with his inner ear and that it was vital that he didn’t exert himself with too much pressure or stay under the water for an extended period of time without taking a quick break to avoid complications. She waved this off and we commenced the session. About half an hour in, we were part way through an exercise in which you flood your make and then clear it and he signalled that he was having some discomfort and needed to go up for a bit. Unfortunately for him she waved this off yet again and told him to do the exercise. 10 minutes of him struggling to do it (due to a thundering headache from his slowly bruising eardrums), he signalled to go up again and was denied. After another 5 minutes he didn’t bother asking and just surfaced anyway, only to be met with an icy stare from this inconsiderate woman. It is in my firm opinion that she believed that he was making up his condition so as to avoid doing some of the exercises. Back on land, he went to the medic and was it off diving for the next 2 days due to the damage that had been caused. So day 2 and one man down. Complete disappear when we saw the same woman had been assigned to us but dispute a hasty plea to the teachers organising groups, we were stuck with her or nothing (oh how I wish I had chosen nothing). The thrill of diving properly for the first time was indescribable and for those that manage to secure a competent and actually professional diving instructor, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. However, that was a luxury we did not have. We were diving off the beach and therefore upon completion, one would simply be able to swim back up onto the beach. It was here that I first gauged the true carelessness and stupidity of this woman as she directed us to swim through a gap between 2 rocks, which were the only obstacle between us and the beach. The problem, however, was that there was a substantial swell from right to left and part way through the gap, both me and the guy behind me were sent flying into the side of the rock which was covered with dark coral (which can cut like you would not believe!) All up my left arm and leg were a range of deep cuts which started to bleed unrelentingly onto the sand as we both scrambled out onto the beach and stood there slightly stunned. It was then that the very woman responsible for sending us into the death by 1000 cuts valley emerged red faced and began to lecture us of how much damage is caused to the over ions coral by 2 adolescents ramming into it. This continued until she said something along to lines of ‘isn’t it ironic that you came here to learn about coral to protect it and you’ve just destroyed all of that?’ At which point the ridiculousness of the situation got to me. There I was, battered and bleeding on a beach due to this woman and she was going on about the bloody (literally) coral. So at this point, I must have somehow shown my disbelief (perhaps even smiled at how unbelievably unreasonable this was getting) as she turned on my and said ‘oh, so you do think it’s funny, do you?’ Now I’m usually not a confrontational person, shy even but at that point I looked straight at her and gestured to the slowly growing crimson sand around me and said (in a rather angry and sarcastic tone) ‘yes! I clearly think this is funny!’ I remember saying exactly that as They were the first actual words of defiance I had said towards her and it felt fantastic, especially as she then turned and marched up the beach, leaving us to make out way to the medic alone. Very irresponsible. As it turns out, whilst I was getting miscellaneous bits of coral extracted from me, antiseptic and steri-strips put on me, she had waddled to find my teacher to give her an earful about our ‘insolence’. To add insult to injury, again literally, she claimed I had used offensive language towards her. I mean seriously, grow up. I had been more tolerant than most and apart from my sarcastic outburst, I have hardly said a word to her. When confronted by the teacher later than day, the complaints she had lodge against us were clearly outweighs by the entire groups overwhelming rant about this pathetic excuse for a diver and we left it in the hands if the teachers as we were finally moved to having a different diving instructor. And I’ll tell you what, it was terrific! With this other instructor, we had a great time! It really makes such a difference, both in the water and on the shore. The number of injuries went from 3 in 2 days to 0 over the next 4 days. Definitely an improvement. Without that terrible woman, I would be writing a very different review indeed, but alas. Waking up in the morning and not wondering which of us would be seeing the medic that afternoon was a luxury we really shouldn’t have had to cherish. On the last day, there she was again foreboding. It seems that there had been some terrible mix up and we were once again stuck with her!! There was just simply no one else and we decided that we couldn’t not dive on the last day as that would be a shame. The dive site we were going to had a ship wreck there and of the all the groups going, the other instructors had all said they were going. So naturally, I enquired (very politely I might add) as to our plan. Apparently because ‘it was an educational trip, not a holiday’ she had decided that instead of seeing an spectacular shipwreck on our last day, we’d spend an hour swimming around and pointing out types of coral from her ‘My First Explorers: Fun Time Diving picture book (ages 3 – 5)’. I was very reasonable, calm and collected in proposing to her that: 1. As our group wasn’t actually doing biology A level and this was, in fact, a holiday. 2. It was our last day and this would be a perfect way to end it what could still turn out to be a good week. 3. We’d spent all week looking at corals and the biodiversity that ensues, there really would be no benefit educationally anyway. She then proceeded to change her stance from ‘it’s educational’ to ‘we’re doing it because I said so’. It’s pathetic. On the last day, it’s absolutely no effort for her to just be reasonable but instead she steals away what would have otherwise been an amazing experience just because she can. I would like to reiterate that without her, this would have been an incredible trip and it was a great shame that it was spoilt like that. She was petty, inconsiderate, and above all unprofessional which led to myself and 2 other people sustaining injuries. So to conclude, I would recommend the trip and I’m sure that my school will run it again at some point but my advice to them would be: if you see a short, fat, red faced woman then run for the hills!!
Tags: Non-Profit Organizations
Address: Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire , Select State/Province United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0) 1790 763194