A Meeting of Friends

M and I sat down to listen to orientation at a small table in the palm thatched bar and I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked over, and found a fantastic surprise that made my day: G and E, who I met in Roatan last year, are here. This, I am certain, is a good omen.

And so began our day. As soon as the orientation was completed, we set out to do a checkout dive on the house reef. Thats where things briefly went off of the rails, when M’s pressure gauge / dive computer began free-flowing air. This would be a major problem. We tried to replace one of the gaskets, to no avail and eventually gave up, instead rented a pressure gauge for him. M was concerned that this (on the 13th of the month) might be a bad omen.

There was no need to rent a dive computer, as I always travel and dive with a spare. It has struck me as a bit OCD, but I also see it as a form of insurance for the trip and it just proved its worth.

With a healthy set of gear we finally climbed down the steps and into the ocean. I forget how amazing the reefs can be as they sea floor starts to dip down and they encompass me. How startling the beauty of their corals and sponges and fishes and … well everything!

It’s honestly gleefully fun to witness as M sees this all for the first time. It’s the same way I feel when I take people to the Coliseum in Rome. The reefs are something we read about and see on documentaries. There’s just something irreproducible about being here and seeing them in person.

The dive went great, so we grabbed a quick lunch and headed south in our rental truck. The truck, by the way, is terrible. It’s a small cute pickup from China that doesn’t have the torque or acceleration to support my driving habits. It squeaks and rocks precariously, its nonexistent suspension linked to tires seemingly made of plastic. And I’ve discovered that it is a complete disaster on speed bumps.

We eventually pulled off the road and back our truck into a dive site known as “The Invisibles,” recommended by the resort. Bonaire is known for its shore diving, and this was an amazing place to start. Getting in the water was a bit of a challenge, as I stumbled a lot over the submerged boulders.

Returning to our hotel, we ate at a restaurant a few doors down the streetr. As M and I walked up to the empty restaurant, the greeter inquired skeptically about our reservations, of which we had none. This seemed to cause a bit of consternation, which was clear as she decided amongst the tables in the mostly-deserted dining area. Still my wahoo was delicious, and the view was breathtaking.

Finally we finished the day with a night dive at back in front of our resort, “Buddys Reef.” We spent the entire time being stalked by three or four large tarpon. Each measured about three or four feet in length, and they hovered just within the beams of our lights. The impression was one of aggression and it was almost creepy. (That photo shows the tarpons during the day)

I struggle to take photos during the day, and lighting at night is even more challenging, so you’ll have to settle for this sea urchin. During our trip back to shore we saw the tentacles of a hiding octopus and some eels as well.

And with that the exhausting day drew to a close. It was amazing to see G and E again, and I hope to dive with them sometime, although the structure here is very different, and much more free-wheeling, than Roatan. But I’m confident it’s going to keep being an amazing week.

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