|FII: Crossing borders and spreading the word…. Spain 2011|
September 7. 2011
FII: Crossing borders and spreading the word…. Spain 2011
by Errol Putigna
I took my first class with FII in February 2009 not knowing what to expect. I come from an education background and understand what education should be. I found an education system that was pretty much flawless and I knew I had to be a part of it. There are few things in the world where everyone wins. These are what I like to call “win, win, win” situations. Everyone walks away happy. FII is one of those things.
I travel to Spain every year (my wife is from Spain) and I mentioned to Martin that I would really love to teach a few classes in Spain. Well, opportunity came knocking thanks to Himar and Regina, some great freedivers that live in the beautiful Canary Islands located off of the west coast of Africa. You have to understand that freediving is nothing new to Spain. It has been with them forever. There are several other agencies that teach freediving in Spain but they were looking for something new and exciting. I knew that if I could at least get the chance to teach one class, I knew they would be hooked. That day came!
All travel arrangements were made and they picked me up at Las Palmas Airport on the island of Gran Canaria. In typical Spanish fashion, they treated me as one of their own. They took me around to do some sightseeing. We had a great lunch, got to eat some great local fish and got to chat about freediving and FII. Right from the beginning, they saw the professional structure of FII and what it represented (not to mention the costly expense to translate everything into Spanish!!); how the materials were presented, the structure of the class and most importantly, the professionalism of the instructor. Never had they seen this from any other agency. What really sold them on the whole FII program was the absolute and unwavering importance given to freedive safety. I knew that this would hit home… no matter where you’re from.
Himar and Regina made sure that I had everything I needed from the classroom and the projector to the floats and the carabineers. They definitely were on top of things! The best part (just as in any class) was the students. Each student was there for a different reason. Himar and Regina were there to check things out and to one day become FII instructors in Spain (they are well on their way!) Then there was Juan, a 56-year-old man, world traveler, just looking to gain knowledge about himself through the wonderful world of freediving. Lorea, a great young lady looking into learning how to be more comfortable in the water and perhaps one day spearfish with her boyfriend. And there was Gonzalo, a 17-year-old “young gun” with a burning passion for spearfishing. All these individuals had their own different goals and I was going to fulfill each one.
I have lived, worked and been traveling to Spain for quite some time so I know how that Spanish mind works. Normally, the Spanish student is timid and shy… at least in the classroom. I knew this would be a cultural hurdle and one I would have to overcome. I made sure that they were very comfortable and that we were all here for the same reason… to learn about freediving. I cracked a few jokes and made sure that they knew that I was not a foreigner to their way of life. This gave them a sense of comfort and reassurance. They started to ask great questions and the class was on!!! They ended up doing things that they never had dreamed of (statics between 2:30 and 3:00 and depths of 20m). Most importantly, they were doing it safely!
At the end of the two days of class, we had lunch at nice local restaurant by the marina in the city of Puerto Rico. Lorea’s boyfriend (Samuel) and his colleague (Raico) joined us and are some monster spearfishermen (shooting fish consistently at depths between 30-40m!). These guys are recognized on a national level and compete quite often. They started to pick at my brain about FII and I shared a few things. They were quite curious and said that they want to take a class next year……. Yes, we’ve already started to plan for next year!
Long story short, FII has yet crossed another border and spread the word. It may sound arrogant but I knew that once they took the class and saw how it was structured, FII would be there to stay. I cannot thank Himar and Regina enough for giving FII the opportunity to teach in Spain. This is a huge step for FII and Spain!!! ¡Muchísimas Gracias!