Tuesday, June 5
I am still nervous from the first day of classes and so don't sleep well. Wake up repeatedly trying to remember what errors I made. Can't think of any.
Get up with the sun, make coffee and log in to see what happened in my online classes while I was sleeping. Not much, but not nothing. Some students have crazy schedules and so make time for class at the oddest hours. Doesn't matter to me--I'm happy for all of them.
Breakfast of scrambled eggs and fruit, to order. I seem to be the only guest so the breakfast buffet has turned into breakfast to order. Fine by me. After eating, I grab my mask. I bought my dive mask in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize 11 years ago after mine was stolen. It was the only one that fit. Upon use, I loved it. Absolute best mask I have ever tried on. Super low profile makes clearing trivial, and wide range of view. Simple. Cheap. Cannot understand why all dive masks are not built like this one, but I have not found another like it and so carry it with me whenever I might dive.
Walk down the road two blocks to the beach, where Deep Blue has a boat waiting for me in the surf.
Wade out into the gentle waves and hop on board from the stern, by the outboard motor. Nice boat, with a center console and a sun shade. Tanks down the middle between benches. Basic and functional.
We set out across the water. I look back to see the cove out from Playas del Coco:
We head out to sea, then south down the coast to another cove, near Playas Ocotal where there is a colossal resort. We pick up a cute young couple who signed up for their introductory open-water SCUBA lesson.
They did the classroom and swimming-pool portion of their training at home in Buffalo, New York. They do more on board as we head out and then further south:
Our first dive site was around this low island:
The dive instructor has his students to care for so my divemaster and I back-roll off and descend. This is my first-ever dive in the Pacific so I am a little nervous. Water is a little colder than the Caribbean off Belize where I dove two weeks earlier (and for a dozen years prior). but not enough to be a nuisance. Visibility is much lower. About 10 meters or so. not bad, but I am used to 3x that in Belize. Also, the landscape is dominated by the volcanic rocks, not the reef-forming hard corals of the Belize barrier reef, which is justly famous world-wide. and finally, the fish! All are kind of familiar, but not quite. The Panama isthmus formed about 3 million years, which has been enough time for speciation by vicariance. As in, same genus, different species. Repeat over and over. As a zoologist, I loved it!
On the surface interval, the instructor continues his lesson while my divemaster goes fishing:
By dive skills, I'm happy to report, were fine. Good buoyancy, low air useage, stayed calm. We say some sharks (white-tipped; one group of three small ones and another of two medium-sized). Divemaster asked by hand signals if I was OK. Yes, of course--I love sharks! They are cool. I'm not afraid of sharks. I appreciate and respect them.
I took some snapshots of the young couple on their camera and they returned the favour with mine:
if you call that a "favour." Pretty bad case of mask face.
Our second dive site was here:
just explored around the base of these rocks, down to 75 feet or so. There is a bit of a thermocline around 65 feet or so.
After that, we returned the couple to their resort, and then headed back up the coast to Coco. Some some isolated beaches I wanted to see from the land, and would the next day by bicycle. This is one:
Took a few more photographs of the boats in the cove as we approached. This one includes a faux pirate ship for tourist cruises:
As we got closer, I took some snapshots of the brown pelicans:
All too son, they dropped me off on the beach where they had picked me up in the surf at 8 am. I walked back up the road to my hotel:
I took a shower to get the salt off and then logged in to my online classes and worked until sunset. Actually, missed the sunset.