Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scuba Sarah!

Just a quick blog to say that today I scuba dived for the first time! And it was WOW amazing! Myself and Alan signed up with Tayrona Diving here in Taganga yesterday, and this morning we presented ourselves nervously at 8.00am for the course! When we arrived we were sized for wet suits, flippers, goggles and other sundries, then we - along with the other divers, two Americans and a Dane - went into a wee room and watched the PADI video...which was extremely cheezy, but very informative. There is so much to know about the scuba equipment!! It`s all so technical, and you really have to pay strict attention to the breathing techniques and the equalisation stuff (basically holding your nose and blowing out your ears to equalise pressure, but you have to do it every meter of descent, so it`s important stuff!). Also, clearing your mask by holding it tight above your eyes and blowing through your nose may seem like an obvious one, but when you`re 18 meters down, it`s a different story! The light seems very far away above you, and a mouth full of sea water is always freaky....

Anyway, after all of this instruction, we set off on the boat for Park Tayrona`s calm waters...as it is a National Park, the coral and fish life is pretty well preserved and untouched by fishermen and tourists. We thought perhaps we`d be in our depth for the first dive of the day but no, we had to jump fully kitted out from the boat into deep-ish water! Eeeek! So, we had our weights put on over our wetsuit, and the backpack attached with our buoyancy device, as well as the tank of air on our backs. The breathing piece was already in our mouths, and you had to just hold your mask with one hand, and the weights with the other, and take a big leap of faith into the water! Very strange feeling, for the first time, when you`re breathing through the mask underwater! Myself and Alan were taken out by Chopper, one of the instructers, and the others went ahead with another guy - the two Americans were qualified diver, and the Danish girl, unfortunately for her, had trouble with her ears, and couldn`t actually dive at all today. Anyway, Chopper let out enough air to bring us just underwater, and then we practised techniques like what happens if your airpiece falls out, and how to clear the water from your goggles. We also went through all the hand signals that we needed to know for safe diving. Then we were off!

On the first dive, we went to a depth of 10 meters, and Chopper held on to both our hands, and guided us through the rocks and coral below. We saw amazing things, the best of which was when he guided us down to the bottom, and we knelt on the sand as he showed us a spider fish below the rock, then took it out and held it on his hand, then passed it onto my hand, then on to Alan`s.....bright yellow, with long spindly legs and a triangular face. Singularily the weirdest thing I`ve ever seen! It looked like it was from a different planet! I couldn`t find a picture of it, because I don`t think I have the right name! We also saw a huge yellow eel - called a Moray eel, which was pretty freaky looking! I wish I had a photo of the spider fish thing though, because it was definitely the weirdest thing I`ve ever seen!

We came up after a while, and got back on the boat, and had lunch in a lovely secluded cove in Tayrona, then back out for dive two! This time, Chopper was much more adventurous with us, and he only held my hand for the first ten minutes! Ha ha.... But he let us just follow him as we swam to depths of 18 meters - a lot of pressure is felt at this depth, believe me, so I have no idea how anyone goes deeper! It was freaky looking upwards and not really seeing the surface clearly, because it was so far above you! This time we got to see amazingly coloured fish, and they weren`t afraid of you, and almost brushed up against you sometimes. Really strange! We saw some amazing coral, too - and little plants that snapped shut when you came near, but if you were a bit away, you could see their little wavey tentacle-like leaves swaying in the current as though by a breeze. It really is a garden down there! We saw huge seaweed structures and coral that looked like trees! Chopper spotted some yellow tentacle things sticking out from under rocks - the looked like octopus legs - and got me to grab one, and it immediately started pulling away from me....it felt like a furry water balloon filled with guts!! Alan touched it, and thought it was pretty disgusting too! Yeuch!! Ha ha....

Then we went across some rocks, and Chopper pointed below us, and we saw huge tentacles/pincers/antannae sticking out from under the rock! Kinda freaked me a little! But as we got closer we saw the big and curious face of a lobster! And as we went over the rock, we discovered at least six more, and some of them were in extremely clear view, so we could see their full bodies. Absolutely amazing!! I know I keep saying that, but there`s no other way to describe it, there really isn`t..... I also saw a guy with a weird split in his tail, a photo of which is below - Alan didn`t get to see him, as I spotted him before he went behind a rock, but he was bloody brilliant!

So, I`ve attached a few photos to show SOME of the fish we saw today - because believe me, if you can dream a colour, we saw it swimming in the Caribbean today! It`s a pity we couldn`t take underwater shots, because it would be great to have visual aids when explaining it, but the memories I will take from today are vivid and colourful, and won`t fade in a hurry!!! That will have to be some consolation.......

Definitely one of the most amazing things I`ve ever done, and we`re thinking of doing another dive here, and definitely of doing another dive in Cuba!! How lucky am I? Believe me, I know it.
This trip just gets better and better!

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