The first leg of my adventure has sadly come to a close. Diving the second largest barrier reef in the world off of the little island of San Pedro, Belize.
We did 14 dives in total, and each dive was beautiful. We saw, of course many fish, lobster, crabs, shrimp, coral and sponges, and a few critters we can’t identify. We also enjoyed sharing the water with morays, loggerhead turtles, spotted eagle rays, sting rays, nurse sharks (which were friendly and let us pet them) and on one dive, over a dozen reef sharks (which are actually quite aggressive)!
Some dives, especially the ones when we got to dive with these charismatic creatures were spectacular and exciting. But even dives during which we saw only the more common fishes and critters, were special. I love feeling weightless, at one with my surroundings. Movements are slow, even breathing is calm, controlled. In the water I feel graceful and centered, rather than spastic and clumsy. I feel connected to something vast. The ocean is our roots—our home, and symbolically, to return to the ocean is to return to the womb—the womb of humanity and life on Earth.
Plus, with every dive I’m getting better. With each dive, I seemed to use less air—I was calmer and controlled my breathing. I could calmly lace my fingers and with small flicks of my fins maneuver around coral heads and through tunnels in the reef. My eyes got keener, and I could spot the little animals, so adept at camouflage—the little crabs or fish disguising themselves as coral, clear bodies shrimp, rays buried in the sand.
Life out of the water in San Pedro was equally calm. It was the low season for tourists, and everything moved at a laid back pace. The people were amazingly friendly, often greeting us and wishing us a nice day as we passed in the streets. Everyone spoke English (it is the national language), but with such an accent and slang that it was basically unintelligible to us. Somehow when people spoke to us they toned this dialect down—there was a gradient of accent that everyone seemed to be able to control. I especially enjoyed getting to know the folks at the dive center, Chuck and Robbie’s. We only met Chuck once, but we saw Robbie nearly every day—he looked kinda like a pirate, but he was a very friendly guy with a very sweet family. We often saw his kids and wife, because the shop was on the beach right in front of his father-in-law’s house. His father in law is a fisherman and sold us hand caught lobster straight from the bucket. Our dive master for pretty much the whole week was Enrique—a big, friendly, goofy guy on land, and a graceful, un-jaded diver.
And now, to Costa Rica to begin a new adventure with new people. And I'd ask for those I love at home to wish me luck, but from what I understand, it seems as though I should wish you all luck--take care in America!!