an interview to Mehran Azali
It’s a great honour to have your time. Some of you are pretty difficult to catch cause so many things going on. How are you Mehran?
Hi there, I’m fine, thanks for giving me the opportunity to present myself.
You are born in Switzerland right?
I was actually born in the U.S.A. but have been growing up mainly in Switzerland.
I see… So you speak fluent english, german, french,… any other language?
Yeah well, … My mother tongue is Swiss german. I’m nearly as fluent with English and Spanish though… Then I speak as well Farsi, Greek and French
Jesus Christ! That are a lot!You are a professional scubadiver and also a freediver. How did you decide into become into those disciplines?
I have a quite multicultural and travelling background… My father is from Iran and my mother is Swiss. I learned French and English in school. Then I lived several years in Greece, enough to learn an amazingly beautiful and difficult language. And since around 6 years I live in Spanish speaking countries… The idea to become a professional diver came up in Greece since I loved to be in the water but it was very hard to get money. The crisis in Greece was and continues to be very tough.So a good friend asked me “Why don’t you become a diving instructor like me?” With my background it was the right thing to do, of course and I am very happy for his idea.
How did you start? What would you say to someone that would like to start into scuba diving? And freediving?
Well nowadays it is fairly easy.
Wherever you have the right conditions you can find people practising and also teaching the sports.It is very important that you start your journey with a course in order to guarantee your safety.Today you can find too much information on the internet and one has to be careful with its use.
It doesn’t really matter which organization you choose for your course, it is much more important to have a dedicated instructor.
Let your instincts guide you
So, you did your first course in Greece?
No (sweatgrinning) I actually did it in Panama. I was practising a lot of Freediving in Greece though, but without actually having any idea about what I was doing.From then everything went really fast and one year later I was doing already my Divemaster training in Mexico
From starting the first course until winning the first money. Did you need a long time?
There are different ways how to do it. I didn’t have a lot of money so I was working for my education, people generally refer to it as an internship in a dive center.I think it is way better to do it that way since you don’t just do the skills and continue to the next one but you actually learn what it really means to work in the diving industry.
It took me around 3 months to become a Divemaster and I directly continued working in the same Dive center – I was lucky
Yess, agree. It’s not just about diving right?
That’s so true.You spend maybe around 2 hours underwater per day, depending on schedule… But usually you are working 8 to 9 hours.So there is a lot of time preparing, washing or fixing equipment and of course lots of time taking care of customers and making sure they are safe and having a good time.Safety and fun go hand in hand but you have to learn to get them together in harmony 😀
Did you do all your first travel, to learn diving, alone?
No, it was just a great opportunity. I planned to travel to Panama quite some time before in order to discover its wilderness and indigenous people.
Can you tell us a bit about this trip? Sounds amazing! You are quite passionate with wilderness and nature to I guess…
I always loved to travel the less populated areas where you can still live in an environment that was not created by humans and where it’s actually us who have to adapt and not nature.
Well I did the Diving course in Bocas del Toro, actually the neighbouring island of Bastimentos. Then I spent around one month in the eastern islands in some villages of the Ngöbe Buglé, where I learned to freedive for octopus, lobsters and conchs. Later I took to the eastern side, the Darien, which is thick rainforest being the natural border between Panama and Colombia.
It was a great adventure.
That looks a dream trip!
For me definitely, it just depends what you are looking for.
In this time I was not sure which direction to go, either to become a diving instructor or to just get a piece of land and to stay there cultivating it… Finally the diving won
Did you have fear during this trip? Fear of wild animals? Did you get sick or trouble with the state or any other funny adventure? We would love to hear some, hahaha…
Well, I was not afraid, but I had quite some days where I had no idea if and how I could continue. Communication with the indigenous people was sometimes very hard (not just because of language but much more for cultural differences) and since I completely depended on them I very often had no idea what was going to happen the next day. I was moving from one village to the other by meeting people and directly asking them for the possibility to stay at their place. If that would be weird in our society, imagine how they must have felt when a white guy asked them for such a thing (and for many I was the first they had ever seen)
Did you go spearfishing with them?
In the Darien it was getting harder and harder the further I got. Many military checkpoints and stories to have them let me continue until at one point there was no way and I had to turn around. Still it was an amazing experience and lots of very interesting and lovely people. Fishing by hand in the ocean and by line in the rivers.
So, now I know who I want to have close if there is a kind of Civilisation collapse 😀
I didn’t meet anyone with a speargun or anything nearly as sophisticated hahaha
I think I have travelled too much and never spent enough time in order to know a place well enough for such an incident hahaha
So, now do you give any courses?
I am a Scuba diving and Freediving instructor with PADI. I am also a Freediving instructor with Apnea Academy. I am working now in southern Tenerife since more than 2 year
I give courses for beginners and advanced divers, and I also guide people who would just like to explore the beautiful underwater world
I am basically getting paid for doing what I love how great is that
Canarias is pretty close! How about the costs staying there during making the course. Is it expensive to rent a room or so? Could you give us some advice about the islands?
I think it is a very good option for people from europe. It’s quite close, so travelling time is 4-5 hours from most countries. Prices are quite ok and you have many different options. Every island is very different and has so much to offer. I chose Tenerife because of my family. I have two kids and Tenerife besides offering very good diving and freediving conditions is the biggest and most diverse island. We have the biggest elevation in Spain (a volcano called El Teide), beaches, forest, moonlike volcanic landscapes, villages and cities. A great place to have kids grow up.
There are all kinds of watersports like diving, surfing, kayaking, sailing etc. Hiking, paragliding, bicycle riding are big here as well.
So I think everybody who likes to enjoy nature (and not just the typical family or all inclusive tourists) can have an amazing time in any of the Canary Islands.
Yes. I know there is a lot going on with surfers in Fuerteventura. That Gomera is an amazing island to visit. Do you organise diving trips to other islands?
Could be possible for people planning to contact you to go to some of those islands?
La Gomera is definitely a very nice trip! Very slow and easygoing… I have done a scuba diving trip to la Gomera in June and people were amazed. I am thinking about doing one next year to El Hierro where you can see even more wildlife since the diving will take place in the south in a Marine Reserve called Mar de las Calmas.
I am based in a Diving Center in southern Tenerife so I just have to make sure everything fits into the schedule. I always love to help out but for any activities it’s always best to contact me as early as possible.
Could you share with us your future projects? Do you have something new in mind?
Also if you like to promote something or any other advice for newbies? Also please share with us any other thing that you would like to say 🙂
Well I have many ideas but not always the time to work on them. Generally speaking, I want to work on different ways how people can build their relationship with the ocean in a way as real and unmediated as possible.
The first thing I want to push through are surf survival classes. Giving surfers more confidence with bigger waves and their personal breath-hold. And hopefully spend some time on surfboards hehehe.
Oh, that is really good!! There are a lot of people interested in those types of courses!!
For now my main focus lies on teaching Freediving and Scuba diving courses. So if anybody is thinking about getting wet just let me know, I am positive we can prepare a nice package for you.
Mehran it was a pleasure to have your time. Wish you a great time to you and your family!
Thank you very much for the interview. Cheers!