Sunday, March 09, 2008

Water World

One of the reasons we chose Jibacoa for this trip was its reputation for great snorkeling. There's a large, vibrant coral reef just a few dozen metres offshore, and the photos posted online by people who'd explored it went a long way in convincing us to put it at the top of our list.

Maybe if I'd never gotten the cochlear implant, I'd say that SCUBA diving should be the official sport of the deaf; as it is, the implant means that I'll never be able to SCUBA dive, so I am content with saying that if there were a competition for Official Sport of the Deaf, I'd be happy to nominate, and campaign on behalf of, snorkeling.

Down there, just under the surface of the water, sound means nothing. Vision is everything. You are the richer for not being distracted by water in your ears. You are completely at one with the water, and the coral, and the fish, and the slanted beams of sunlight shafting past you to the coral and flora and sand below.

The deep and jagged coral reef is full of dark caverns which go straight down below you and which look like they go on for kilometres and could host terrible, terrible sea creatures of mythological origin. (And not only does one of those deep dark crevices possibly host some mythological beast; one of them now hosts my wedding ring, which slipped off as I snorkled and which was gone when I returned to the beach. I'm almost sure, as it tumbled end over end into the depths, unnoticed by my distracted eye, I did hear Gollum whisper, "My preciousssssss!!!")

Dozens of different kinds of fish come out of their nooks and crannies to curiously and fearlessly peruse you; the school of fish in this picture were especially persistent, circling me patiently, swimming round and round me like a single organism, moving with me as I moved, so that I felt I was at the very centre of a very slowly locomotive carousel...

...their tiny brains probably thinking, "Oh, this is a big one... it'll kill something for sure... and when it does... there'll be leftovers!"

And then - about 50m offshore - just as you've been flying forever over this complex and beautiful carpet of coral and sea plants and fish - there is suddenly a breathtaking drop-off, some 10 metres or so straight down, to a bare bed of sand.

<= Much steeper than it looks!

I admit it - I couldn't bring myself to swim out over the drop, seized by an irrational fear that somehow, if I swam past that ledge and over the little abyss, I'd suddenly fall, be dragged down and be unable to get back to the surface. Totally irrational, as I knew at the time - yet it totally made for a thrilling and slightly frightening psychological experience, toying with that ledge as if it really were a gravitational drop straight down.

Husband saw SCUBA divers below him... a nearby fish seemed as surprised by this as Husband was.

(These photos were all taken with Fuji disposible underwater cameras. Last trip we took two Fujis and one Polaroid underwater disposibles; both Fujis provided good pictures, the Polaroid yielded nothing. This time we stuck with the Fuji brand and are again thrilled with the results.)

How we were able to drag ourselves out of that beauty and peace to return to the real world, I'm still not sure. All I know is that we're already plotting how to return to it as soon as we can.


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Blogger Abbie said...

I thought we could scuba dive as long as we don't go below 80 feet I think it was.

I know nothing about scuba diving but I thought you would like to know that the possibility is out there! :)

10:07 p.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

My sons' mother owned a home in Belize (with her last husband, a Belizian), and they traveled there often. Snorkeling is legendary off the "Mosquito Coast," but my boys never did get photos... so thank you, again!

I take it that the Fuji underwater disposable cameras took their images on film -- how did they make their transition to digital?

Looking forward to still more...

11:58 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hi, Abbie! Welcome!

You're right, which surprises and pleases me, because when I got the implant I was told that the only thing I wouldn't be able to do would be SCUBA diving.

Here's the scoop on SCUBA diving from two of the major manufacturers, and Advanced Bionics.

As you note, 80 feet or 30 metres seems to be a generally-agreed-upon safe depth. Unfortunately, I don't know that I'd ever take the chance because the price of accidentally going too deep scares the hell out of me...

...but on the other hand, the knowledge that the option exists does make me happier. And who knows? Maybe at some point I'll be willing to try it in safe (i.e. shallow) waters. It's certainly an exciting thought!

Sherwood, the good folks at Photolab (they're the Canadian Superstore photo lab guys, for Canadians reading) gave us a CD of the images when they developed the cameras. The wizardry is all theirs!


5:26 p.m.  
Anonymous m.e. said...

it seems to me your photos are very colorful. perhaps the water is clearer when you're not so deep. personally, i prefer snorkeling. it can get pretty wild and woolly when you're scuba diving. my grandson george got his braces jammed up into his gums when the waves on the surface were so rough that the ladder into the boat flew up and down and smashed his mouth. when you're down there, you don't notice what's going on above, and the weather can change in a flash. not that i would know...i'm strictly into swimming pools.

10:45 p.m.  

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