Under the Sea, the Sicilian Way - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Under the Sea, the Sicilian Way

Under the Sea, the Sicilian Way

By Silvia Marchetti


Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.

By Silvia Marchetti

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Paolo Di Giacomo
Palermo, Sicily

Salty, wet and tiring, as usual. It’s a killer job: I work my ass off 12 hours a day, nonstop, seven days a week for six months in a row. I’m a seasonal summer worker, so I can’t afford to complain. I guide divers five times a day (even at night), teach courses, check the tanks and clean the dive shop when we shut. And I only have some 15 minutes to gulp down my sandwich at lunch. 

I do all this for barely 1,000 euros a month, putting my own life at risk at each dive. As for all extreme sports, anything could go wrong: A diver goes missing, he sucks up his oxygen tank in five minutes so I need to share mine with him or he loses his weight belt, making me plunge deeper to fetch it. Many dudes vomit underwater, and that’s not a good sight. Let alone when an accident happens and someone gets injured or, worse, nearly drowns. 

Scuba diving is cool, but with this job comes a lot of responsibility and stress.  

When we go out for a dive, I do everything: help clients get inside their suits (some are so clumsy I can’t avoid laughing), pull all the tanks and weights on board the motorboat, sail to the exact diving spot, help people with their gear, dive for 45 to 50 minutes, come back to the boat and pull up the empty tanks. My back is always aching, and I’m just 25. I will probably be suffering soon from arthritis or sciatica. 

You might think I’m crazy. Trouble is, I love scuba diving too much. I could never quit. It’s like a drug to me: the adrenaline rush, that feeling of total relaxation after a dive, floating in the big blue with just the silence and fish. I might be with a dozen other divers each time, but when you’re down there, man, you’re alone with your most inner self, and it’s awesome.

The underwater scenery repays my fatigue. Purple coral reefs, Second World War wrecks, giant groupers and barracudas swirling around you. No matter how many times I see this, it is always a show. Sometimes it’s even better than sex.

So each year, when April nears, I apply for a job at one of the many diving centers scattered across Italy. My favorite place is the isle of Marettimo in Sicily. The sea addiction runs in my veins. During winter I fall into depression because I can’t see those waves, that sparkling sea, inhale the salt and taste it on my lips. 

And, yes, OK, girls come with this job.… I don’t mean to boast about my many flirts and hookups with clients, but according to unofficial statistics, we scuba divers are the ones who fuck the most —after tennis teachers.

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