Monday, February 28, 2011

Honduras - Day 2 (bodily fluid advisory)

I've got a photo album up. It's big and getting bigger (I've kept it to 70 pics so far). No dive photos, yet. And, they will probably go in a separate album anyway.

Set an alarm for 7am. Woke up at 5 to disable a fan that was causing me to be too cold. Yes I'm aware of how ridiculous that sounds what with the temperatures that most of you are dealing with. But, there was air conditioning involved! Does that make it better? Woke at 6. Too light to sleep.

After breakfast, I head upstairs to an orientation session. The first 10 minutes are a sales pitch for a company that flies people around the island at low altitude in an open-air plane. It's prohibitively expensive, so I just tune out. The only thing of consequence I learn is that anything we want to buy at the resort goes on a room tab and all the “tipping” happens at the end of your stay in one envelope for the entire staff except for the boat captains and dive master, who are tipped separately. It keeps us from having to carry money everywhere and probably encourages us to spend more than we otherwise would. Brad and I shortly leave the main orientation to begin the last of our instruction –open water.

The dive shop outfits us with our gear and we get a deal since we are paying for certification dives. Our instructor is a young woman named Alehandra. She is nice and very patient with the 10-yr-old who is also with us. But, it is painfully slow for Brad and I. I endure and think of the water as she shows us how to put our gear together (something I've done a dozen times now). She does offer some useful tips, but mostly I'm impatient.

The first dive is fantastic. The instructor complains about the cold water. The shallows feel like a bath-tub and the deep water is still warmer than any pool in Saskatoon. We walk into the water for 50m and then stop at a floating dock to put on our masks and fins. Finally we are in the water. I see a lot of seaweed, but there are fish immediately in these shallows. We slope down gently. I flap my fins vigorously and Alehandra drifts ahead of me seeming to hardly move her body and yet going forward. I try to emulate with little success.

She takes us along the head-wall nearest to Cocoview. There is living stuff everywhere. I have no idea what any of it is. Coral and sponges and fishes, to be vague about it. We are going slowly, but it is too fast. Alehandra has an agenda and is being mindful of our air supply. I want to linger at every little fish and polyp. She takes us to the wreck of the Prince Albert. The ship is covered with living things and sediment. A brightly coloured fish the size of my chest lives in one of the holes in the hull. A large Eagle Ray drifts lazily across our path. It's pale with dark spots and a fin-span near mine. Alehandra takes us to a number of places she has been that have cool little fish and crustaceans living within. At one point she overlooks some cuttlefish and gets 'inked' for her lack of observation. Embarrassingly cool.

We come back in and break for lunch. After we eat, we do some skills at the surface. It's quite windy and there are reasonable size waves. The kid, Tommy, has trouble with a number of skills, particularly clearing his mask and the CESA swim, which is basically swimming straight to the surface from 25ft, while exhaling, on a single breath of air. I find it very easy, but I've read that many people don't. The time at the surface is a lot of bobbing up and down –very much like a gentle roller-coaster. I'm not too good with roller-coasters. Sadly there is no picture of this event, but I vomited 3 times into the ocean and then felt much better. I'll have to remember to take the dimenhydrate (gravol) that I brought with me for the plane. The post-puke euphoria begins to wear off after about 10 minutes, so I head back to shore with an instructor in training, clean my gear, shower and fall asleep.


Feel much better after my sleep. Brad reads while I type my journal and we head in for supper. The fare is unremarkable beyond some very nice Potatoes Anna and a competent raspberry cake with caramel sauce.

Internet continues to be dodgy, especially with everyone wanting to use it at the same time (6-9pm). It looks like we are on a satellite connection. Perhaps weather is a factor. I'm not going to complain too much yet. Wandered outside searching for a better signal and I stumbled on a lot of flapping.

They have feeders set up and the bats love them. If anyone has ever waited patiently for a solitary humming bird to show up at one of these things, you are wasting your time. These guys weren't skittish at all. I stood within a metre of the feeder and dozens of them whizzed back and forth in a constant stream –never so much as brushing my hair. It was magic. After... I'm not really sure how long I was enthralled, I decided that I didn't want to spend an entire set of batteries on this one event. Brad and I played some Chez Geek and went to bed.