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.