Travel blog – Day 17

The “swimming with the sharks” day :-)

So, I woke up early to get ready for the dive. The difference between this PADI dive shop and the one in Belize was extraordinary. We actually followed proper procedures… filling in forms, checking of certifications, checking of equipment, etc. etc. We even planned proper safety stops for when we were coming up from the bottom. None of that happened in Belize.

Yesterday I bought an underwater camera. Had never used one of them before so I didn’t know what to expect. The quality of the photos is not great, although bad film-development equipment may have also played a role. Finally, since I wasn’t used to taking photos while diving, I really didn’t know how to exactly point the camera to my subject :-)

We were three divers and Fernando (on the right), our dive master.

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When we reached the location for our first dive, Chris (the big Canadian fellow on the left), had to stay on the boat because his eyes felt really bad as soon as he puts his mask on. I saw him later in the evening at a bar and he told me that the doctor suspected it might had been caused by gas (as in fuel). We did smell a lot of gas at the dive shop so he might accidentally put it somewhere he shouldn’t.

The first dive was a great experience for me. I had never done high-current dive before. It took me by surprise. You have to effectively let your self get carried by the current. Whenever we wanted to stop to see something, we had to try and swim against the current. All we could really achieve was to stand still. We saw huge sea turtles on the way and barracudas.

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My regulator was really bad. I could tell from the beginning but I did the dive anyway. I had to suck the air out of it, which gave me a headache later. However, the 42min first dive was magnificent. I seriously enjoyed it.

Then, we get back on the boat. Chris felt really bad and his eyes were visibly in a bad state. We decided to abandon the planned second dive and take him to the coast. We were all more than happy to do that since health is above everything else.

It turned out to be a good decision for the second dive, though :-) After we made sure Chris was safe and ok, Fernando came back to the boat and offered us two alternative sites nearby. One had lots of sea life and the other one had sharks. They don’t usually get divers at that location but he felt comfortable taking the two of us. The other diver, who was Scottish (I don’t remember his name), was much more experienced than me but I had done pretty good on the first dive so the dive master felt comfortable. Of course both of us chose the shark site :-)

In the meantime, I took Chris’ regulator, which made a HUGE difference for my second dive.

Instructions from the dive master:

  • We will do a 20 min dive (we had to do a shorter dive anyway since it was our second)
  • We will go straight to the bottom and STAY there :-)
  • We will have to be really close to each other (we were almost touching at the bottom)
  • Please don’t move arms and legs too much… try to stay still as much as possible

Hmmm… the fellow diver and I decided that we still wanted to do it (hard to find another crazy guy :-)

And then, comes the news that we are going to swim amongst bull sharks (according to Wikipedia, they are the unpredictable, sometimes aggressive type). Oh well…

There were MANY of them. As soon as we reached the bottom, they started circling us. There must have been 8-10 of them and they were really close. You can probably see them in the photos, which didn’t come as clear as we could see them :-(

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After 10 mins or so, I think the decided that we weren’t interesting enough and they left us. So opportunity for a relaxed dive, seeing fish that were coming in and out of the sand and some photos :-)

Here’s Fernando.

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And this is me…

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Some curious fish…

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And some bubbles :-)

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It was an amazing experience. Fernando came out saying that it was a fantastic dive and, indeed, it felt like that!

Back to the hotel for a shower and then for brunch. I found this great restaurant with an emphasis on natural food. Very cool.

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A walk around the town, while trying to find a photo shop that would do film->digital.

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And then a long siesta at the hotel.

In the evening, I went for a drink at this bar, which seems to be designed well for drunken people :-) I didn’t have any alcohol and it was still an effort to stay on the swings at the bar :-)

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Finally, dinner at the same restaurant I had brunch.

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Last night in Mexico. Tomorrow, it’s a short drive to Cancun. I will just return Julio, the car, and head to the airport for an afternoon flight to Seattle.

Unless something unexpected happens tomorrow, this concludes my travel blog series. There is going to be a summary entry and then back to Seattle rhythms.