Day 3: Discovery

Today was the day of Chuck and Alyssa’s DSD. We got up early enough to get there by 9 with a quick stop at Amore y Café for breakfast. Somehow despite having plenty of time to have breakfast and get there, we made it a rush anyway getting a slow start out the door making our breakfast rushed.

Arriving at the dive shop we were told that our dive instructor was sick today but that they could still take us, just not until 2pm when another instructor would be coming back from a trip and could take us.

The Stalleys went off to the Split for Massages and some snacks while Jenn and I returned to our room to do some reading in a hammock, which turned into reading in bed when the wind picked up. We’re making slow progress through Dune which I’ve brought along to read together and Jenn is blazing through Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen.

Everyone back together the vote was for pizza. First we tried Pizza Caulker, supposedly the best pizza on the island, though it doesn’t have much in the way of competition, it however was not yet open, their oven just having been turned on.  We settled for a busy place on the beach with a forgettable name and even more forgettable food. Again somehow we were out of time and rushing to Frenchie’s.

That wasn’t the end of rushing to Frenchie’s either. We started filling out our forms and I realized I’d forgotten our dive cards back in our hotel room. Now I was rushing back on our borrowed bikes as fast as I could to not hold up what was already a late start to an afternoon of diving. Arriving at our room Louise, our hotelier told me she had cleaned our rooms. I thanked her without thinking much of it until I opened our room and found that on top of cleaning she’d taken it upon herself to organize our room. Things were nowhere I’d left them and instead squirrelled away on shelves and in stacks or behind beds. I didn’t know where the cards now were! I found them under a few other bags of various things and rushed out the door. Back at Frenchie’s out of breath I found our group with wetsuits on ready to go. I handed over the cards and then located the fins and wetsuit I was going to wear. I really had no need to rush, Alyssa and Chuck had instruction off the end of the pier to do still before we left.

Chuck to Scuba pretty immediately having no trouble staying underwater or clearing his mask. He was a natural. Alyssa struggled with some of the same problems Jenn did when she started like breathing out her nose, and panicking when doing mask floods. But she got over both pretty quickly and not long we were on our way.

Our stops were out in the Caulker Marine Reserve, which was where we’d gone snorkeling the day before. Jenn and I entered first, and waited around for the others. Eventually Alyssa was in and then Chuck. Alyssa got herself down below the surface pretty quickly and was down to us not long after. We helped her get her buoyancy right and Jenn tried to show her how she can control her buoyancy with her breath. Chuck was taking a long time at the surface so the three of us poked around a bit. I don’t know if this is nice for a Dive Instructor or not having us along. We lead his student off away from him while he dealt with the other one, but we were helping with instructing her at this point and he was able to focus on Chuck. Eventually Edwell our instructor descended down to us without Chuck. I asked what happened and he motioned that he couldn’t equalize and so it was just us. What a shame, Chuck took to it so well, but once he was in the ocean he panicked a bit when his mask leaked and couldn’t equalize hurting his ears a bit in the process trying too hard. It’s not something that’s easy to manage, you can want to dive, even have the aptitude for it, but your physiology can prevent you regardless. I have a few more friends looking to learn to dive and I hope they’re successful.

On with our dive we saw the same rays we saw the day before, but this time in their natural habitat not being chummed. We saw some grouper which at the time seemed huge, plenty of hermit crabs inhabiting vacated conch shells, and even the large green Moray Eel we saw the day before. Ed was indicating I could go closer but I got as close as I felt I could after the day before having in chase after me even though today he seemed content to just chill in his clump of coral.

Jenn had some equalization trouble at 25ft so we didn’t go any deeper and this made me worry for the next day. Tomorrow we go to the Blue Hole and the Open Water certified divers they plan to take just past our certification depth of 60ft to 70ft, and if they think the group is having no troubles they might take us as far as 100ft where we can see, but not swim between the stalactites that formed in the cave before the sinkhole appeared.

After the first dive Alyssa seemed really excited about diving, and Chuck sullen. Chuck unbeknownst to us had been making a lot of effort to see the allergist and get himself ready to dive in case he could. I wish there was something more we could have done. I can see a lot of family resemblance in my experience with Jenn learning to dive and then watching her sister and father go through the same process. Ed after talking for a bit moved us on to our second spot not far away, still basically the South Channel location.

During our second dive it was a lot more of the same. More moray eels and rays, but this time Ed pulled a nudibranch from under a piece of coral, I’m amazed he could see it. I’ve never seen one before for good reason, most are masters of disguise looking like pieces of soft coral or sea weed. Through our dive Pam followed us from above snorkeling along the surface. The water is a bit murkier above from runoff coming from the island mixing with the salt from the sea. Down below where we were the water was warmer and clear. As the dive went on it got darker and darker as the sun set above us. At one point we’d been allowed to stray from our instructor but as we got close to 5:30pm I got everyone to turn around and head back to the boat. Before we surfaced though we found a ray buried in the sand with just his eyes poking up. I tried to get him to swim away but he was quite confident in his camouflage, but some movement of my fin and he sped along.

Ashore we were all cold and hungry so we gathered after a shower for dinner. Tonight we headed to Rose’s which was supposed to be excellent barbeque which was something I’d wanted after seeing the street vendors. This was more upscale and we ordered lobster and chicken kebabs each of which came with sides. These meals including drinks would have cost $60+ at home, cost $25 here, not bad.

Tonight we had to pack all of our stuff because we wouldn’t be back until well after check out. Then it was off to bed with a 5am wake up!

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