Monday, October 30, 2006
A Brief Diversion
Ladies and gentlemen, we interupt our reguarly scheduled knitting program to bring you this exciting announcement: I went scuba diving!
The best part of the story is the part where I was learning to scuba dive, so I'll save that for last. But I did learn, got temporarily certified and left Puerto Vallarta for an island region called Marietas. Did I mention I'm at a physics conference? A group of nerds went, including one of the lecturers, who is also the advisor of several of the people I went with. Also, I met the girl pictured here, who has just invented this very interesting crochet pet carrier. She's got a patent and everything. I did knit a little on the way out, which is how we started talking, but I was not feeling particularly steady on the boat, so I didn't do much. Okay, mostly I tried to put my head down and not move at all. I did manage to lift my head up in time to see a giant sea turtle swimming by. But as soon as we stopped, I felt better and the islands were ridiculously beautiful.
So you know how you see those Jacques Cousteau films and they flip backwards out of the boat? Surely, you think, there must be a more modern, efficient way to do this. You're wrong. That's exactly what happens. You can barely walk with the huge scuba tank on your back, and you just sit on the edge of the boat and fall backwards. That may have been the scariest part. Well, that and the sinking to the bottom of the ocean part.
The other girl, who may have been even more scared than I was, and I were completely last on the sinking part. The dive master (although I prefer the name "dive dude," which is how I shall refer to him from now on) held on to us and made us sink. We clung for dear life to the rope on the way down. Eventually, you realize there are a lot of cool things to look at down there, and you start being more interested than scared. I swam over to dive dude #2 (who, incidentally, looked good in a wet suit, and that's really saying something), and dug my fingers into his hand. He led me around for a while, and I wouldn't have let go, except that the other girl let go of dive dude #1, and that guilted me into it. It was really beautiful down there, the water was the perfect temperature, and everything was completely calm. We saw all sorts of interesting rocks, coral, shiny tropical fish. It was like being in a fish tank. The other group of more experienced divers got to see an octupus and several blowfish, but I was pretty happy with just staying alive.
After the first dive and little snack break, we went out to a pristine sandy beach on a little island. We played around on the shore a little bit. The water comes in really fast. If you're sitting right on the water line, a big wave can knock you over. I rolled around in the sand like a little kid, and wandered around and looked at some cool crabs. One of the guys on the boat caught a little one.
Now, my dad is quite a fisherman. I've seen a lot of fish that he's caught. Most of them have teeth. Add to this that I was once bit by a fish in a small lake, the guy throwing bread to the fish just outside the boat did not make me happy. While I was swimming the surface over to the dive dude, they swished away. When I was in the water, they seemed to think I was just some big weird fish and seemed mildly interested in me. Especially the big, thin silver onces that kind of look like they had teeth. Did you know it's possible to scream under water? However, you're the only one that will hear you. Once we got under the fish, it got insanely beautiful once again. There were walls of rock covered in colorful plants and exotic fish. We saw a huge eel (I screamed once again) and a blowfish (but it was far enough away).
The starfish were about the size of my head. It was definitely fun, and I'm glad I did it, but I'm not sure I'll ever do more than beginner trips. We were down at about 50 - 60 feet, and 40 is all you can recover from if you don't go slowly. I'm not sure I need to do more than that. Especially since I needed to cling to the dive dude just to handle descent and ascent. Still, it was a lot of fun, and I might go on another beginner trip.
Now, back to the beginning. I had to be trained in the hotel pool to be able to go on the official trip. I waited for two of the people I was with to go through their training, and then it was my turn. There's a huge pavillion area right by the beach and pools are right next to it. As I was having my training, they were setting up for a wedding. Then they performed the wedding. I saw the ceremony from the pool in my scuba gear. The wedding reception started and lots of people were taking pictures. The crazy guy (Max) I was training with and I decided it would be great to get a picture of the wedding in the scuba gear. So we hopped out of the pool like frog men and got a picture with the reception in the background. We, and the guests, thought this was hysterical, so someone went and got the bride and groom. We got several pictures with the bride and groom, who were very good sports about this, and even the official wedding photographer came and got our picture. I love the thought of being in this nice young Mexican couple's wedding album for the rest of their lives. It's a good story all around. Pictures will come as soon as I get a copy of them.