Saturday, 31 October 2009

El Caribe bajo el agua - Parte I

It appears that before I embarked upon my little Caribbean adventure, I wasn't sure if there would be any diving involved :D. And come to think of it, that's actually true!! Just goes to show, eh? As it turns out, all we did was dive :).And it all started off with a somewhat open ended last-minute travel arrangement that saw me land up in San Juan without much of a clue and only a brief set of pointers. Somewhat miraculously therefore, an hour or so after landing, I was already in my somewhat antiquated, but extremely cosy room in the heart of Condado, barely a stones throw away from the beach :). Oh, and I'd also figured out that pretty much everyone speaks Epañol, and not too many speak the old Inglés! :)

Seeing how I was somewhat unfortunately occupied for those last few days on-board, all the planning for this trip had been left to my partner in crime. He'd even gone so far as to set me up with the Open Water course! So I spent the next couple of days grasping with the basics of Scuba. Seeing how the last course I'd done was about a year back, the prospect of quizzes, tests and the like were somewhat annoying :P. But I was a whole lot happier once we took to the water!In retrospect, the diving wasn't exactly earth-shattering in PR. Or more to the point, my first four dives as a part of the course. But then again, to be honest, I was so totally over the moon at the time, I hardly noticed :P. Plus, I was mostly too busy breathing, equalising, checking the gauges every half a second and clearing my mask from the invading water only marginally less frequently, to pay too much attention to the fish. The nice ones that is, that were actually patient enough (or curious enough I suppose) to hang around and observe my antics :D. Okay, make that the first two dives, it got better from there on :P.
There's also the fact that a lot of people go diving off Fajardo, which is on the east coast, and to Culebra. So many, in fact that even when you leave at different times, and follow different routes, you end up spotting divers from other groups while underwater! It also doesn't help the visibility much. But even so, as far as beginners' dives go, it was awesome enough to have fired my imagination and curiousity :).
That way, our last dive in PR, off the barely visited southern coast, was totally awesome! Once I got through the certification, and with still a couple of days to kill in San Juan, we were badgering my dive instructor, Angel, to get us something different, and not over-crowded! He left us hanging for a day, so we figured this would be the time to pay Old San Juan and its castles a visit.
As it turns out most of my pics from the entire trip were from that one day :D. I suppose seeing how we spent most of the rest of the time underwater, and since I didn't have a casing, that was somewhat representative of the focus of the trip :). But the 2 castles, though defaced somewhat by the WWII takeover by the US and somewhat ungainly incorporation of bunkers, were still quite impressive. The similarity with the fortifications in Cartagena was quite striking, and inevitable, I suppose.
The other thing about old town is the colour scheme :). All the houses are in pastel shades, and sometimes rather deep shades! The quickly changing sequence of colours as you walk down a street is quite something. I suppose there was more we could have done by the water-front. But we were too busy figuring out about that last dive to bother :P.
The place is called Patillas, and it's really a very very small place. Most people from outside would never have heard of it. Off the coast, however, the bottom of the ocean just falls off! Without any form of organised diving, we ended up in this fisherman's little boat! He took us out, we plopped overboard, head over heels, and landed on this ledge, about 70ft below. Then we noticed the edge, looking over it, you couldn't see the bottom! Needless to say, that's about the deepest I'll ever go. (We only went to about 133ft, mind, nowhere close to the 1500ft bottom!!) As expected, there was a lot more marine life on the wall!
On the way back, we even managed to pack in a visit to one of the largest bioluminiscent waterbodies around, Laguna Grande near Fajardo. After the deep dive, we weren't exactly fresh and raring to go. (Especially with that near running out of air situation that I shall definitely not go into :|.) So when we realised that this would involve a rather long kayak ride through mangroves in the dark without any personal lighting... :|. I can't say I was too thrilled. But the spectacle was quite something!! If only the guide had cut down on some of his 'information' and just let us hunt for some more jumping fish etc.! As it is, the fiery wakes of the kayaks and the trails our oars left, were enough to provide a fascinating display!
So that was about it! The week was over in a flash and it was time to head off to the second leg of the trip, to the British and US Virgin Islands! And all those wrecks! I'll get into that in another post :).

Currently: lazing about some more :D
Listening to: Gui Boratto - No turning back

Underwater pics courtesy of Vishnoi.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Oh Nat!

So the holiday finally wound down. Got to the point where we'd almost had enough of diving for a bit :). Took a fair while to get back though! All of 5 flights. But in that time I finally managed to finish up with Ptolemy's Gate.

I'd been getting the feeling that things were looking a bit darker with old Bartimaeus as the books went by. You know, the first one's really hilarious. The second one, still quite funny, but with a generous dose of darker stuff. The last one.. well, what can I say. It was awesome, but I wouldn't call it funny.

See, now I'm a sucker for happy endings. Unfortunately, this wasn't it. I'm sure there have been a whole bunch I've read that are much more heartbreaking etcetera, than this. Just that I can't put a finger on the names.

But for all that, the series does make for a really good read :). I do take exception to this being classed as a children's series though :|. That's sort of like calling those last couple of Potter books children's bed-time story books....

So yeah, I got back home yesterday. And while there were rumours that I might have to head off to the boats again, not in 3 months, but in 3 days, it now appears that is not the case :D. I can't say I like flying this direction much though, the jet lag is horrible. I managed to sleep most of the daylight hours, and then another healthy 10 hours overnight :P.

Pics and tales from the Caribbean to follow :).

Currently: lazing about :D
Listening to: U2 - No line on the horizon

Thursday, 22 October 2009


The waves are crashing on the white sands five feet away from my feet. There's a bunch of people surfing on the oh-so-blue waves as they crash into foaming white. And those crashing waves are drowning out the music playing on my laptop. Which seems to be a thing of great interest to a white dog with a red and green collar that has a little Union Jack in the shape of a dog bone and a red heart hanging from it.
I've just spent the entire morning under those blue waters, gaping, as best as I could around my scuba regulator, at the most majestic thing I've seen yet, underwater that is. The wreck of the RMS Rhone. It's way too hot, or I'd be back in the water, on the beach-front of our spot on the northern coast of Tortola, instead of whiling the afternoon away, staring at it :).

Awesomeness. That should be a word if it isn't. And this is it. :)

PS: Love the way the really huge waves start off as just a shadow... and then keep rearing their heads higher and higher and higher...

Currently: on holiday :)
Listening to: waves crashing over Craig Armstrong's piano

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Certified!!!! \:D/


A fair bit has happened in the past week. Mostly good stuff. Very good stuff :). I'm into my last day in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I am now a certified Open Water Diver! :D Yup, wicked!! >:)
Over the next few days, today included, we're planning a few more dives. I'm already hooked :D. It helps I guess, that I love being in the water. And, as one instructor put it, the almost space-like feeling of weightlessness makes it an absolute thrill!! A low speed thrill, I should add :P.While here, it would have been a crime not to visit the castles and streets of old San Juan, so we did. But I'll leave all of that for a later post, when I'm a little less busy having a blast :D

Currently: living the dream :)
Listening to: Frou Frou - Must be dreaming

Pics courtesy of Vishnoi.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Maybe tomorrow (I'll find my way-ay home)

It's like someone hit the brakes while you looked away for a moment, (the girl in that car as it flashed by on the other lane... someone familiar? From a long time ago?) and hit them hard. You shudder to a crawl, confused. (You were driving, you see. Or so you thought.)The trip was going okay. It wasn't going great or anything. Not lately. But it was ticking along, the hours and days rolling off one by one with reasonable predictability. And then time just bloody stopped!!! I haven't been this desperate to get off the boat in a while!! Does it have anything to do with the fact that this should be it for the rest of the year, I wonder? :)So after daydreaming (and sweating profusely) through the last few days, now it's just one more wake-up. And then one more night back in Cartagena. We were originally slated to fly out from Barranquilla, which happens to be Shakira's home town, by the way. But then fate conspired to take us back to familiar territory.So in a couple of days, the longest vacation I've ever had, should begin :D. Imagine that! Somehow I don't think I'll be dying to get back to the boat even after that though :P. Then again, I really do hope when I have to head back, it is back to this tub. As it turns out, I've grown rather fond of it. And although it would be mostly the people, in this case, I couldn't say it's all just about the people, seeing how 'the people' form a rather volatile entity :).One way or another, the possibility of displacement always exists. So I suppose when I pack my stuff tonight, I'll be a little more careful than usual to ensure that nothing I leave behind would cause me too much grief if I were to never see it ever again...Currently: in suspended animation
Listening to: Ingrid Michaelson - So long

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Wishing for that silver lining to broaden in the face of the gathering storm

I really should know better :. Hardly a day had passed since I wrote blissfully of being in no hurry to leave Cartagena, and lo and behold, suddenly, processes that had moved mere inches in the previous fortnight, progressed in leaps and bounds! Out of nowhere, we were leaving port in a day and heading off to deploy the gear I'd hoped to not have to set eyes on for another month at least :(.
At least there was one last trip into town. The final result was sadly minus the much needed new sneakers, but was interesting in that I can now say I've had the supposedly famous Colombian 'firewater'... With somewhat mixed results :P. And then it was time for the Trident to make its rather picturesque way out of the harbour.We went by some more of the fortifications, some green seemingly uninhabited islands, smaller satellite towns spread amidst the lagunas. All in all I was quite sad that we were leaving actually :(. Not least of all in anticipation of the suffering that awaited us :. Not that I still appreciated the full extent of said suffering.Well, things went rather okay for the first couple of days on the back deck, barring a few batterings to the head etc. And then two things happened. I decided to commit to my proposed trip to the Caribbean, more specifically, to Puerto Rico and the British (and maybe even the US) Virgin Islands. (Which, hopefully is to include some scuba diving, *fingers tightly crossed*!!) Then, to my surprise and joy, I was informed that I would have to take the next trip off! (Which translates directly to an unprecedented thirteen weeks off!!!! And hence a lot of potential plans :D :D.) And then it all got shot through the head by the rapid and violent decline of the weather into an absolute mess, as can be seen below :(.The direct implication? Crew change might get delayed. Which in turn means my plans for the Caribbean could very well get sunk all the way down to the bottom of the ocean (well, the bottom of the Caribbean Sea actually), along with my hopes of getting that Open Water certification :(. So now, with less than a week to go to the supposed crew change day, and ever worsening forecasts, I'm in something of a state :. Prayers for fair weather in the region around 11º 5' N/75º 30' W on the 14th would be very highly appreciated indeed!! Please....? :)

Currently: worried!! :(
Listening to: She & Him - Please, please, please, let me get what I want