That is until it sunk in that we were actually going out to the open ocean. Christi was a bit nervous about this until she realized that they weren't actually going all that far from the shore. Even if something had happened to the Medusa we could have made the swim back to shore, especially with the BCD's (Buoyancy Control Devices) on.
Our first stop was the mercado (market). This is where the natives shop. There were all kinds of things for sale and Christi noted its location for later use. Deep Blue provided watermelon and bananas for a snack between dives. Then we were driven to the only natural cove on the island where we met the Medusa and her captain, Ruben. Luis claimed that this cove was a favorite landing place of pirates, and legend has it there is still treasure buried there. No one has found it yet, however. We helped load things onto the ship, then were helped aboard ourselves. Medusa is a pretty little open ship with a nice canopy to protect the divers from the blazing Caribbean sun.
As we sped across the water, bouncing over the wakes of other boats, we discussed our first destination. We were headed for Chankanaab reef. It was straight out from the shore of the national park of the same name (see Friday). Once there, we donned our weight belts, fins, tanks and masks. Luis wore a wet suit, but we opted not to. We really didn't need them. Neither of us got cold the whole time we were down. Then, just like on TV, we dropped backwards into the water while holding our masks and weight belts. It was a bit like the first time you ride a bike without your dad holding the back. You know you're going to be okay, but you're a bit afraid of the freedom anyway. We checked our equipment, then, much quicker than anticipated, we headed down.
You might think it was dark down there. It wasn't. What the photos can't show you (due to the physics of light refraction) is how bright everything was. Even in 40 feet of water, it felt as though we were snorkeling. The colors are just as brilliant as the close up shots you see here, only we didn't have to be close up to see them.
We could go on and on, there were so many things to see. Hundreds of fish, some of which joined us as we swam along the reef (Luis later told us that some people feed the fish, a no-no). We saw two kinds of barracuda - white and black - moray and green eels and a yellow ray, just to name a few. Dave particularly liked the queen angel fish and the stoplight parrot fish. Christi wanted to take the trunkfish home.
Sadly, before too long, Dave reached 500 psi of air and we had to ascend. Christi still had 1200 psi. We attribute this to two things. 1. Dave smokes, not a lot, but enough that it effected his lung capacity, and 2. Dave was more nervous about the whole thing than Christi. Luis advised us both to take deeper breaths and to exhale more slowly and forcefully. This also helped us keep from floating away as our tanks got lighter.
Once back aboard Medusa, we were treated to watermelon, bananas and ice cold water. You'd be amazed, if you've never been diving, how thirsty you get. We don't know if there is any moisture in the air tanks, but we doubt it. Christi drank three 8 oz bottles of water, then had to pee. Luis assured us it was okay for the environment to go in the water. Neither of us said anything until later. We both went in the water during our second dive.
A word to the wise: don't pee in your wetsuit.
Talking about it isn't nearly as interesting as seeing it. We could go on and on again about how beautiful it was, or how many fish we saw. This reef was a bit different from Chankanaab. It was slightly shallower, but the coral formations were bigger, taller. This made for some neat canyon effects.
The thing we didn't realize until we went on our second 2 tank dive on Thursday, was that there was almost no current on either of these reefs. There was enough of one that if you held still, you would be moved along, but slowly (see Thursday). It made it more work to keep up with Luis, but it was also nice to stop and look at things when you wanted to.
Just look at the pictures, okay?
By the time it was over, we were tired, but could hardly wait until the next morning. We were so charged from all the cool stuff we saw, had it been possible, we would have stayed down until dark, and maybe after. Unfortunately, Dave was feeling kind of queasy. It may have been something he ate, or maybe a touch of decompression sickness. Either way, at the mention of lunch when we got back to Deep Blue, Dave turned green. Christi, however, was ravenous and marched right across the street to La Choza and ordered their lunch special.
All Play and No Work…
While waiting at Deep Blue for Dave's stomach to settle, we decided it was time to do one of the things we came to Cozumel to do. Well, not exactly. Through e-mail, Debbie mentioned she could not see the changes he had made for her website. Dave suggested a new video card, and brought it along to Mexico. He popped the cover on her computer only to discover that she had no video card, that her video was being driven from the motherboard. It was easy enough to disable the onboard video and install the new video card, but without the Windows 3.1 system disks we had to settle for the same resolution until we could find her disks.
[Note: I know this is probably boring to many of you, so I'll just close this section by saying that we did get the setup corrected by the end of the week, and they were very pleased with the new resolution and the web pages, which you can visit here. The site has since been redesigned, but I am leaving the link for any potential customers. -Dave]
One of the landmarks we noticed as we came into town on Sunday night was the Museo de Cozumel. It is located in what used to be the only luxury hotel on the island, a beautiful pink and white stucco building on Avenida Rafael Melgar. On this evening we weren't particularly hungry when we came into town after siesta so we decided to do a little exploring. We had seen much of the south side of town, so we headed north along Ave. Rafael Melgar.
After we passed Carlos' and Charlie's (we had no desire to go into this loud, obnoxious place blaring American rock music and sporting too many preppies on its balcony) we realized there weren't many restaurants on this end of town. It is just past Pizza Rolandi (see Tuesday). Eventually, we came to the stately old museum. It was, amazingly, open at 9:30 at night - though we were to be the only visitors at this hour. The proprietor happily ushered us into its grand interior, collected $3.00 US from each of us, then led us upstairs. He opened each gallery in turn so we could wander through them. The only thing to spoil the trip was the stifling heat. There was no air circulating in these rooms, not even a fan. It was like a dry heat sauna. Still, we tried to do the displays justice and absorb a little Mayan/Mexican culture while we were there. We learned quite a bit, though how much we retained is another story. I regret we didn't have the opportunity to dine in the open air restaurant in the Museum. Alas, it was closed. Apparently, it has a great breakfast.
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