Friday, March 15, 2013

Ever wonder what it's like to descend on a wreck?

Or spy an eel under the sea? An eel so big it could take your entire arm in one bite?

Or hover, motionless, 60 feet down in warm Caribbean waters and listen to whales singing?

We just got back from a 10 day dive trip to St. Lucia and boy are my lungs tired.
No, seriously, it was the most fun and the most spiritual experience we've had, well, ever. 

We saw lots of tropical fish, lobsters big enough to feed a family of six, eels, regular and spotted morays, and also the aforementioned green one. I will post a photo when I get it from our friends Stephane and Monique. They were the only ones lucky enough to get a shot! Our dive master Rose grew up in these waters and he was freaked out, admitting he'd never seen one so big. Meanwhile, we all crowded in trying to get a closer look and a photo.

Doug and Pam, just hanging out

My "buddy" Terry, on the wreck dive. That's ET behind us to the right.

The bow of the wreck

Our dive boat, heading to the Pitons. We dove at the base of the mountains.


Together 30 years this year, married for 28!

Stephane and Monique, celebrating their 15th anniversaire. Three kids. Look at her! Aren't they cute? They took classes with Cirques du Soleil for fun and learned how to use a trapeze.

Jeff and Linda, married 14 years, from Portland. They have been diving here for 7 years. Remarkable when you think Jeff is in a wheelchair. He uses finned gloves. He also teaches full time, coaches wrestling and plays murder ball (a form of wheelchair rugby, and is exactly what it sounds like.) Linda is a sweetheart, gentle and interesting, great to have along on any dive trip. We hope to dive with them again.

Brian the pilot paddled by while we were getting off the boat.There wasn't a single person in the entire resort who didn't know Brian by the end of the week. Even the guys on the beach selling their wares got pizza and drinks from Brian on a daily basis, and his wife Susan brought bandaids and refreshments. Nicest. People. Ever.

View from the lobby.

The old wreck. Sometimes Doug calls me that. Not really.
Where we had dinner on our second to last night.

Oooh, spooky. Not. It was exciting! I put this one in to creep out my sister Yutha.

The Gang. Brian took the photo and kept making wisecracks.

My bestest dive buddies, Phil and Terry from New Mexico.

Off I go, into the deep.
We got up at dawn every morning, lathered ourselves in sunscreen, wolfed down a quick breakfast and ran to catch the dive boat at 8 a.m. Sometimes the day's dive site was a 10 minute drop, but most days it took 45 minutes to an hour to get where we needed to be. This meant we could trade stories about other dives and equipment, or joke around with the crew. The people of St. Lucia are special, truly special. They are warm and open-hearted and made all of us feel like honoured guests of the family. Plus, they have this sly, witty humour that catches you off guard. They tease and it's unexpected and it never failed to make me double over laughing. There were days when my stomach muscles ached from laughing. St. Rose, my lovely instructor, said he thought it would be fun to visit Calgary. He said this as he relaxed in the sun on the bow of the boat, the temperature of the air and the water hovering at around 82F. I told him, tongue firmly in cheek, that January was the best time to visit Calgary. 

Was he prepared for air so cold his nostrils might stick together? 

"I'll wear a hat," he said. Just thinking about it makes me laugh again. I'd post a photo of him, but I forgot my camera at the beach. Luckily he found it and is going to mail it back to me.

We went to a special site, just six of us, where he promised us something special, something "magic" he said. Hyperbole? Well, we would see. And he couldn't promise, but Rose said we should prepare ourselves to be blown away. Now when someone builds an event up like this, inevitably there's a letdown, but let me tell you, this dive met and exceeded all of our expectations.

We were dropped off in the Atlantic side of the island, and told to leap off the boat and descend immediately as the current there was quite a force of nature. We dropped to the bottom quickly, and had to crawl along the sand, using our hands to scoop, in order to make headway. When we rounded the point, we were met with calmer waters. Rose signaled to us to watch and, most importantly, listen.

We realized that we were surrounded by large, spotted eagle rays. These are fairly reclusive, very hard to find and you're lucky if you ever spot one or two. We were surrounded by about two dozen, moving in a slow circle around us. As we hovered, one would occasionally break free and swim directly towards us and over us, then go back to join his buddies. As this miracle of nature unfolded before us, we were joined by a pod of humpback whales. They were just out of viewing range, as the visibility was limited, but we knew they were right there beside us. They sang to each other, in high squeals and low rumbles, so strong that we felt them in our chests. This went on for 30 minutes, and if I'd died in that moment, I would have died happy.

I'd post a photo of this blessed event, but our camera failed the day before, as did the other couple we were with. However, I think it was better to fully experience the moment, without fiddling with buttons or being one step removed behind a camera. If you want to see what an spotted eagle ray looks like, go HERE.

If you want to know what it feels like to scuba dive, check out a couple of these videos I took in the Caribbean Sea. 

"Under the sea, under the sea, darling it's better, down where it's wetter, take it from meee"

To get a taste of what we heard, this video is close.


Linda G. said...

What a fantastic trip!

In answer to your post's title question: No, but my husband might. ;) (Ba-dum-bum.)

Debby said...

Never wondered, but now I think that it might be pretty exciting. Sounds like the people you met were just as wonderful as the sights you saw.

Lesa said...

What a glorious adventure! I can only imagine the thrill of the whale song and your other underwater experiences, plus fun-loving, pleasant companions. Sounds perfect to me!

Yutha said...

Mission accomplished - that shot creeped me out. I'm in awe though - I know I could never, ever do that but I understand how fascinating it is for you. Very, very cool.

A Novel Woman said...

Linda, we have made and heard them all!

A Novel Woman said...

Yutha, I did the first wreck dive on my own, without Doug. Had to gird my loins for that one, but luckily my loins were up to the task!