Saturday, March 8, 2014

A good day to dive, or maybe not

Friday night  Connie  and  I ate  at  one of  the  hotel  restaurants. I  had  a  Cesaer salad  with  ultra  yummy  seared  tuna  on  it.   We   both  slept   well,   the  beds  here  are  so comfy  and  it is  quiet at  night.   Woke  up   and  did  one  of my  favorite   things,   drank coffee   on  the  balcony  watching  the  water.   It  was  noticeably  more windy  than  yesterday.   I   went  to the concierge  to check   on   how to   get   to    the   QE 2  Botanical  gardens.  The  blue  iguanas  live there   and  they  are having  an  orchid  show.   Maybe  do   that   Monday.   Connie's  friend  Olive came by   and is  going to go  with  us  to Stingray  City  tomorrow.  There is  a   shallow   spot   where  the  rays come,  you  can  get  in the  water  and  feed  them.   They  have been doing  it  a long  time  and the  rays  are  fairly  "tame".    We   sat   on the  beach  and   had a club  sandwich,  then  at  12  I  went to  wait for the  dive   shop to pick  me  up.  Mackenzie  said  the  water  at  their  usual  dock  was  a  little  choppy  so she took us  to an alternate  location.   It  was  just  me,   Chris  from  Alberta,  Mackenzie  and  the boat driver Marco.   We  got fitted  for  our  gear  and  boarded a  pontoon  boat  that  could  easily  have  accommodated  20  people.

We  went  to  a  dive buoy  at   a  spot  called   La  Mesa.  It  was  directly  across from the  Marriott,  altho  out in  the  water   quite  a  way. Mackenzie was  excited to be  there,  she  had  not  been   diving  there  in  several  weeks.   Some   environmental  entity   rotates  the  diving  buoys   so that  one  particular  spot  does  not  get  all   the  wear  and  tear of  us  tourists.   I  got  all   ready   and  took   that  giant   step  off the  back  of  the  boat,  popped   up  and  grabbed  the  rope  to  the  buoy.   I  made  my  way   along the   rope,  but was  having  trouble  getting  my  breath.   I  rested a  minute, then  felt okay  to  go below.   For  someone   as  buoyant  as  me,  the  easiest   way  is  to  go   hand  over  hand  down  the  buoy anchor  line.   My  mask  was  all  fogged  up   and  leaking,  My  eyes were  stinging  from  the  salt   water.  I  had  trouble  getting  the  pressure in  my  right  ear to  equalize  and  it  was   hurting.  I  came  off the  rope  and  was  trying  to   follow   Chris  and   Mackenzie,  but  having  a  devil  of  a time.  The  little  bit  I  could   see  of  the  coral   was   gorgeous,  but  my  visibility  was  very  limited.   I was  struggling to   keep  up.   At  one  point   Mackenzie  waited,  she  had  me  in  her  sights  the whole  time  and  had  signed to  ask if  I  was  okay  several times. I got close to  her  and  got disoriented  and  was  bumping into the  coral.   At  that  point,  I'm not  sure  how,  but  my  regulator  came  out  of  my  mouth  and  I  got  a  mouthful  of  sea  water.  I  got   my  regulator   back  in  but  was   so anxious  at  that point  I  pointed  up  and  Mackenzie   nodded.   We   weren't  far  from  the  anchor  rope  so she took me  over  and  watched  til I  got  to the  surface.  I  yelled for Marco,  who  was  very  kind, helped me  get  my  gear  off and  get  back  in  the  boat.   My  stomach  was  churning my  head  was  thumping  and  I  drank  some  water  and  lay  down  on  a  bench  in  the  shade.  In  due  time, Chris  and  Mackenzie  came  up,  I'm  glad   Chris  was  able to finish  her  dive.         They  moved the  boat  to   Fish  Pot   Reef  for the  second dive.  I  decided  to  pass.   Marco   went  with  Chris and  Mackenzie stayed  on  the  boat  with me.  Usually  the  movement  of  the   boats  does  not bother me, but  I  ended  up  feeding  my  club sandwich  to  the  fish.   Actually  felt  a  little  better  after  that.  Talked   to  Mackenzie  for  a  while.  She  grew up on  Long Island,  was  pre  med  at  the  University  of  Miami.  Decided against  being  a  doctor and  came  to the  Caymans  with a  friend.  They  were going to  stay  6  weeks  and  get  certified  to  teach  scuba.  She  met  a  man  from  North Carolina  in her  class,  they  both  got  hired  when  they  finished.  She's  been  here  6  months  now  and  just  found  a  new  apartment  that  she  and  the  boyfriend can  share.  (2 bedroom/2 bath  is  $1100.  CI  or  about  $1300.  US  per  month)  I asked  about   work  permits  for  people  who aren't from  the  British  Commonwealth.   She  told me  that  in  her  line  of  work  there  are  few  Caymanians  who want  to  teach  diving  so  she  has  been able to  get  work  permits.  But she  said  she  only  plans to  stay   through  the  summer   so  she  can  further  her  education.   She's  currently taking  a  course on line  on  Sustainability  of  Urban  Development  taught by a professor from Columbia  Univ.   They  way  she  described it  I  could  tell  that  she  is  passionate  about conservation.

Anyhoo,  Marco and  Chris  finished  their  dive and   they  brought me  back  to  the  hotel. They  said  that  the  currents  had  been  pretty  strong  and  it  may  have  been  the  struggle  that  winded me.  I  was  disappointed, but  lived  to  tell the  tale.  After  a  shower, tylenol,  club soda  and  a  nap,  I felt  human  again.  Went down  to  watch  the  sunset, but it  was  obscured  by  the  clouds.    We  ate  sushi  here  at the Marriott,  it  was  pretty good  with  a  glass of wine  and  a   lemon pudding cake/blueberry  compote  desert.       We've  set the  alarm for  our  8AM  pick  up  for Stingray  City.

Some  days  you  get  the  bear,  some  days  the  bear  gets  you.

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