I had to wake up at 4:45am. I thought I was going to kill someone before the dive because lack of sleep can make me REALLY cranky, but I got to the dive shop to get my two tanks and while waiting for them I watch the sunrise. That always cheers me up a lot.
We had to drive about an hour from the shop to the beach we were diving in. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches of the island and I had never been there. Before getting to the shore you can see the ocean from the mountains and it’s breathtaking. When I saw the shore I was immediately filled with joy. To top the view, butterflies were emigrating east this weekend so thousands of butterflies were flying around us while we prepared our equipment.
We received a briefing, our equipment was inspected and we prayed before entering the water. While we were swimming to the spot of submersion the butterflies were flying above our heads and the clearest blue sky was the background of the spectacle. It was amazing. We spent about fifteen minutes after submerging doing safety exercises and getting used to the experience.
We were diving a famous broken bridge in the beach. Marine life made a pretty sight of the broken poles, and of the ones remaining up. People used to fish and jump from the bridge frequently and coral reefs were suffering the invasion, so some years ago the city put up some barriers so that people can’t pass and life has flourished beautifully. Some people (kids mostly) still jump and fish from the bridge (jumping through the barriers, which is a little tricky but very doable) but the difference is still significant.
The world underneath water is just… so perfect. At first I was a little nervous to see this huge poles rising up above our heads towards the surface (I don’t feel comfortable about underwater ruins) but when we got closer to them and I saw all the tropical fishes happily living there, all the colors you can think of, I forgot all fears! We were greeted by the sight of a frog fish. Our diving master went absolutely crazy for it so we knew it was a rare sight, later we learned from our instructor (who has been diving for 20 years) that some divers never see them, and it was the first time they found one there, so we were very lucky.
The further we went in this tunnel of poles the bigger the corals were, barrel sponges were pretty. Bright striped fishes were circling us in the hundreds and we were trying to touch one, I swear we were about four right then. I was baffled by the size of all things when we got signals to get down on our knees around the dive master because he had something to show us in his hands. When I saw it my brain exploded. I started screaming and laughing and my mask leaked some water inside. It was a sea horse. In other words, one of my life dreams was happening. I was seeing a sea horse in the sea. I immediately reached out to touch it, very gently, the dive master was smiling at my willingness. And my screaming. I most have looked really funny. So he held it and I touched it, and made one of my dreams come true.
Later he caught an octopus, about ten inches long. It was the cutest thing ever. I swear his eyes were saying “you guys! Let me go!”. I touched it too. I was very into touching everything. I mean animals, I know better than to stick my hand on surfaces. So when we saw a moray, I totally touched it too, for the amazement of our instructor who hates them and wouldn’t touched them for the life of her.
We were diving for about an hour when we went out to change tanks, eat and rest. It seemed like minutes later we were in the water again. This time we felt more secure to linger on different parts and observe everything. The decent was smoother for me too. The first time I was a little shocked on how fast we went down and I didn’t equalized pressure smoothly, the second time we descended I told the instructor I wanted to go down slowly so she let me hold on to the rope that was holding our flag, I took my merry time equalizing and when I hit the floor I felt very comfortable.
In this dive we saw a lobster. I didn’t touched it because it seemed VERY angry that we were looking at it and her antennae was demanding respect. The dive master and the dive instructor stopped at two points in the dive to give food to the fishes and that’s when I understood why the fishes were swimming towards us so much, actually they were swimming towards my face and it was quite fun, but had I known they were waiting for food I would’ve been a little sad that I didn’t had anything on me.
Getting out of the water is as much of a nightmare as being inside it is enjoyable. I thought I was going to collapse before reaching the tables. The weight of the equipment triples after you’ve spent so much time swimming. We had to fill our tanks and I had to drive two hours before reaching my home. I spent the first one falling asleep and the second one dancing.
When I got home I rinsed the equipment and died on my bed.
In contrast to the clear waters we experienced Saturday, Sunday we saw a smooth sea but underneath it the river was having a party. Visibility was about four feet. The current could wear out the strongest legs in fifteen minutes. When we were going to descend the diver instructor had to guide us in little groups down. To top the horrible conditions, more than fifty divers were enjoying their first’s dives that day too. It was havoc down there. When we were all down and waiting instructions in our knees our dive master passed a little writing table to the diving instructor that said “We will be ALL together because there’s no visibility.” Two seconds after we read that he turned around to lead and disappeared. We didn’t saw him and the half of the group that went with him again until we finished our first dive. We stayed with the diving instructor.
In this dive we saw two sea horses. Touched them. Two flounders, one of them was about a foot long. Two sea stars, one of them was missing two legs and when I saw it I felt sudden sadness because for a moment I forgot that they regenerate. The diver instructor turned her over and she turned back, she was on the way to being ok. One of the guys from our group found a fish with a hook and line on, and he cut the line. Later on I held a stripped sea horse, I rolled his tail on my pinky and he tugged to the side to get off. For such a small animal, he was a strong fella.
We lost a diver for a moment, I followed a diver from another group for some minutes. Conditions were annoying. I didn’t got lost because I had the two best buddies ever made, one was a guy who is a member of the search and rescue team of a police division; the second one was the diver instructor herself. She liked to hear the biologist screaming whenever we saw something. But the moment of realization when I knew the hair of that dude I was following was not the hair of any of our people was pretty scary. Soon both the dive master and the diver instructor got too nervous that they were going to loose someone on that confusion so up we went.
When we went back down (after I ate two chicken sticks, is that the translation for pinchos? Chicken, grilled on a stick with sauce) visibility was still bad but getting better and the current was gone so we could go around easier. This time we all stayed together. We saw anemonemonemonemonas and big Nemos.
By the end of the day all of us had a big smile on our faces. We sat down to eat while the tanks were being filled, it was a very nice group of people and we had the best time.
I’m looking forward to a couple of diving excursions, but it was a big blessing that I got to dive first where we did and with the people I did it.
I’m a licensed diver. Buya!