Thursday, March 1, 2012

Molokini and Turtle Town


little bit of whale

there was a small shark under this ledge

big turtle sleeping

After sort of resting up on Wed, Thurs was my diving day.  I got up at 4:45 (yes, AM) and those of you who know me, know there are very few things I sacrifice my sleep for, but Molokini is one.  So, got up early, had to drive down the cost to Ma’alaea where the dive shop was and the boat was anchored.  I got there before the dive shop opened at 6 so sat in the parking lot with my window open, staring at the stars.  They were spectacular.  I think it’s because there is so little ambient light, the stars really show up.  The guys had scrambled eggs, bacon, breads, fruit and coffee ready for us.  There were about 15 people total, some were diving, some snorkeling and some just along for the ride with family.  It took us about an hour to get to Molokini, it is a dormant volcano, nearly totally submerged in the ocean.  From the surface you can see just a crescent shaped part of the lip of the volcano.  Some really adventurous people will dive off the back of the wall where it gets very deep.  Our group went inside where there is a gradual incline to about 50 feet, and then a giant drop off.  The guys on the dive boat were very nice, I got up on the top deck for the ride, where I could see and of course ask the captain questions.  I don’t mean to be annoying but when I’m in a new place my mind just spins with questions and I think my head will explode if I don’t find stuff out.  The captain was a very nice young guy (a total buttered biscuit, too) and talked to me.  We saw big wind turbines on Maui as we were leaving and spotted whales a couple times on the way.  Once we got to Molokini, they split the divers up into small groups by ability.  The dive masters went over hand signals and safety procedures and off we went.  For once I wasn’t the slowest one.  We started to descend and I was so glad I’d done my pool refresher before I left and my shore dive in Kauai.  I just felt very comfortable going down in the water and was able to get going in the direction I wanted.  I stuck to the dive master like glue, we were down in 45 feet of water and the visibility was fair.  We saw lots of cool coral, fish, eels and other stuff.  I hate to sound jaded but the coral was nowhere near as colorful or plentiful as what I saw in Belize.  However, being inside a volcano was pretty damn cool.  The dive master kept checking with us about how much air we had and sent folks back up as needed so the ones who didn’t suck their air up quite so fast could dive longer.  Once we all got back in the boat, they set out dishes of fruit and we pulled our buoy line and headed to Turtle Town.  This is a place off Makena where a volcano erupted and sent two streams of lava out into the ocean.  The lava hardened with lots of shelves and caves, perfect for turtles to hide and sleep in.  There is also a golf course nearby and the fertilizer run off creates an algae bloom that feeds the turtles.  As with Molokini there were many other divers and snorkelers there, but here there were also a lot of kayakers here since it was closer to shore.  We did see several turtles, one big guy all backed in under a rock sleeping and several others swimming around.  They are protected so you can’t touch or pursue them.  One guy swam right by me and it was all I could do to resist reaching out.  After the turtles, we got back on board and I was pooped, I’ve GOT to get back into better shape.  They started the boat and I felt like I was either going to have a heart attack or puke or both.  They passed around water, which helped.  Breathing the air from the tanks really dries you out.  Then they put out sandwich fixings, pretzels and cookies.  I made a little plate and went back up on the bridge with Captain Butter Biscuit and the food and fresh air made me feel better. 
After we got back to shore I noticed that there was a craft fair on the 2nd floor of the building that the dive shop was in.  I went up to look around and it was local people selling different things.  Nicer than a lot of the tourist souvenirs you see.  Then I saw photos, beautiful stuff, and the guy who had taken them was right there.  I talked to him a while and picked out some very cool pictures: a whale with a 2 day old calf, a school of marlin parting like the Red Sea for some jacks swimming through, a close up of a turtle and a landscape.  He told me when and where he had taken each one.  After I got back I had a shower and a bit of a lie down.  My mom wanted to go to the Sheraton on Black Rock for dinner.  When she and my dad were in Maui 20 years ago they had stayed there and she wanted to see what it looked like.  As I walked down to get the car there were 3 people at the bottom of the little hill, they asked me if the trolley stopped there.  There is a trolley that circles the hotels and drops off at Whaler’s Village and from there a bus that goes into Lahaina, convenient for people without a car.  I really didn’t know, but the lady looked sort of on her own and the Japanese couple with very limited English seemed lost.  I told them I was getting the car to take my Mom to dinner and would drop them at Whaler’s Village which was on our way.  Jeez, you would have thought I’d offered to give them a million bucks instead of just paying forward a few nice things people had done for me.  The Sheraton was a very beautiful place and we had a table looking out over the water.  They do a torch lighting ceremony every night which end in a procession and a dude dives off the cliff.  Pretty impressive.  We had a nice meal.

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