I was with Xtreme Gap year in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, for 2 months as part of my "gap year", between January-March 2015. Here I attended a Dive Master course.
I have had an interest in diving for a while now, with the potential aim of working within the industry. I found Xtreme Gap when I was scrolling the internet and was immediately attracted to their genuine enthusiasm for the courses they offer. I had looked at many gap year'ish companies who provide dive master courses before I found Xtreme Gap. But all of them seemed to be very generic, lacking a depth of detail, instead just proving you with some cheesy stock photo of someone smiling underwater. However Xtreme Gap provide a large amount of detail about the courses they offer, along with a personal enthusiastic tone, which enables you to feel like you really know about the trip you are wishing to take. Once you take the leap and have your trip written in your diary, the personal touch continues as you receive regular emails from the people who work within the company, which is really useful for most people who don't like taking a leap into the dark .
When I arrived in Mexico, Xtreme Gap had organised my transfer to my hostel and it all went smoothly. Its nice, I guess especially for people of high school age, to be able to know that people know that you are there and are looking after you. My hostel was amazing, probably very hard to beat. The atmosphere was super relaxed , making you feel at home. Id strongly recommend it to anyone doing courses with Xtreme Gap or travelling through central America. I mentioned this in detail because It represents the care and interest that Xtreme Gap take in sourcing the best providers, hospitality and connections for their clients. And now having become friends with their America's representative, Sander, I can pretty much tell you that they work super hard to provide the best service achievable.
My day-to-day life within my dive master consisted of being up early, walking literally 2 minutes to the dive centre, setting up my equipment for the day (and eventually my clients equipment's), diving 2 or 4 times , morning then afternoon, then back to the hostel to relax in the evening;Which is needed after a nice long days diving. However Playa is a busy town with lots to do and see. So my evenings were often filled by going out and getting to know people id meet in the hostel, visiting local restaurants and even joining a local gym. In my days off from my Dive master I got a chance to be a tourist. Again, being with a company that cares a lot about their clients, all I had to do was suggest an interest in seeing local sites and Sander would provide huge enthusiasm towards lots of ideas for visiting local areas. Being a diver I took a large interest in the thousands of "cenote's" ( caves/holes in the ground with crystal clear water in them) which are dotted all around the Yucatán Peninsula- Id recommend a visit to these to any one.
I quickly became very relaxed within Mexico , feeling as if I truly knew the place, feeling less and less like a tourist and more and more like someone who would and could live there. My learning process as a dive master was quick, this was helped as I had an Amazing teacher and friend , Maira and I soon confirmed that my passion for diving was real and that I really can consider it as a potential industry to work in in the near future. Again Xtreme Gap have done really well in selecting their providers for their clients , as the dive centre is one of the best in the area , providing a professional and fun service.
On the day of leaving Mexico I was given a very warm goodbye, from people that I had become good friends with , including the people who worked with Xtreme gap , feeling more like a friend that a client. I would defiantly return to Mexico to visit all the people I met and got to know, maybe even working within the diving industry.
I believe that the support network and the genuinely personal service that Xtreme Gap provide, is key for anyone who is looking for a adventure and a trip where they gain new experiences and grow as a person. I have gained many new friends from this trip and friends I hope to keep. The reason I quoted "gap year" was because "year" may easily now turn into "years" as I genuinely loved my trip and don't want it to end in September, not hesitating to use Xtreme Gap again.
So for anyone looking to be a dive master or simply looking for a company to use to provide them with the steps to go travelling, USE XTREME GAP.
ps. The waters warm, the waters clear, the weathers sweet, the beaches are amazing , the fish are colourful , the coral is dense , the music is good , the food is good ,the town is buzzing and the people are friendly. - The simple review and all you need to know ;)
pps. Go paddle boarding. Sander will tell you the same.