Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Abajo del Mar: Seeing the world through blue-colored glasses

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!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ending summer and beginning the journey

I fit all of what has been my life in LA into my little car. Just a few boxes, duffle bags, a hamper of dirtly clothes.

I am so greatful for my summer in LALA land. I have learned that I can truly be independent. I can pay bills and work and function on my own--I am my own person. But at the same time, I wouldn't be anywhere without my friends and my family. And now I realize that they are really behind me--more than I knew.

Coming home is as surreal as living in LA on my own has been. I can always count on Los Angeles to be always moving, always changing--and living there was such a huge step for me, such a time of growth. In contrast, it is strangely comforting how little changes here at my home in Santa Cruz. It looks the same, smells the same, sounds the same. Even the family barbeques seem very much the same--even with the addition of my cousin's new baby, the different girlfriends and boyfriends that my cousins and aunts bring--even with some changing dynamics as the cousins grow up, it all rings true to the comforting constance of home in this crazy world.

I am greatful for my life and for the opportunities that I have been given. Now, more than ever, I am sure of my roots, my home, my family and friends. And with this security of knowing where I come from, I go out into the world. Finally, after a month of being in a perpetual state of "goodbye," I'm leaving, ready for what life has to throw at me on this crazy adventure!