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.

No comments: