Aruba 2021

Scuba Diving: Happy Divers

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On today's agenda was....scuba diving! I was excited but yet nervous. After my fiasco in Cozumel last vacation (on the first dive) I wasn't really sure how I would react this time (although I did redeem myself with a second dive that time). I was really hoping it was just a freak reaction and I wouldn't have a repeat this time. I know how much my family loves diving and I didn't want to let them down. I was trying hard not to over think this situation. I think the hubby knew that I was nervous but trying not to show it. 

Sakari went off to create a drawing while we were killing time. 

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Today we were diving MANGEL HALTO with Happy Divers. So I searched before coming here and got pricing and I specifically requested Mangel Halto just for the fact that we did the seabob's here last time and I know this reef is absolutely amazing! That is the reason why I wasn't too upset about not getting to snorkel the big reef when we were here the other day. We were going to get to see it all today...up close and personal. Happy Divers was one of the few that said they dive at Mangel Halto, and the price was good. I had also seen Happy Divers there previously and knew they went there. 

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So we get there and there's another family going diving. There were 2 instructors and we really clicked with the girl (Lisa) instructor. We were talking about how many times we have done this and how often we go. Of course we got the "you should get certified" like we always do. I know, I know...I also told her about my injury and showed her and let them know that I wouldn't be able to carry the tank to the water. She said "no worries, we will take it to the water for you". 

They did the briefing, went over the hand signals and skills and we were almost ready to hit the water. I wasn't feeling anxious at this point and I was happy about that. 

As they started passing out the wetsuits, fins and mask the hubby decided his long hair was going to be an issue. We fixed him right up!

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Everyone headed down to the water and Lisa geared up on both sides. Yes, she was carrying her tank on her back and carrying my tank on her front. She was a superwoman! How does she carry all that weight??? Geesh!

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After she got it into the water, she still drug it all the way out there before she had me put it on. I mean I could have drug it out there myself but she said she would do it. How nice!

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Ok, it was time to put my bcd on and do our skills in the water. I was feeling confident at this point. Nothing was going to go wrong! Please don't let anything go wrong!

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We completed our skills with no problems. But, I was having difficulty with staying down. So, they kept having to add more and more weights to my belt. I also couldn't get my bcd to deflate all the way so the instructor put the weights in and deflated me. 

 

The water kept pushing us toward the other family. It was pretty wavy out today. The other family took some time to complete their skills. We had to stand around and wait on them. So of course that meant picture time.

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Sakari took a picture too. Hey at least she didn't forget she had a camera in her hand. They hubby was armed with the GoPro. He always managed to get good video's so I figured that's his job on this adventure again.

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The other family finally completed their skills and it was time to head out. But...we ended up getting the male instructor instead of Lisa. I was really hoping we would get her. I turned to Sakari and said "Now you know how to change the settings on your camera right?" She gives me this look and I said "Oh, I know you know but I'm just double checking because I know you like to switch between macro and underwater". Then off we went.

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There was lots of sand. Where's that reef??? How long does it take to get there??

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I ran across the Goby family all standing guard at their station.

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Sakari was busy taking her macro/close up shots of everything around her. 

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Now remember I ask her about the settings on the camera? Well, she assured me that she knew which setting to put everything on. According to the pictures she took...she FORGOT!!! They all turned out so bad. On the newer camera she has, there is a setting within the underwater setting that is macro. Well, she was putting on just macro, which is for land. They turned out so horribly green that they are basically unfixable. I tried to take the green out of the pictures so you could at see them, but they look terrible. I'm going to share them anyhow. She did work hard on them and I know they would have been fabulous had they been on the right setting. :( I corrected them the best I can.

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She found a CandyCane Shrimp! (above)

As we are getting a little further out, the first real thing we came to was this HUGE coral. I mean HUGE! If we stood beside it, it was almost as tall as us. It was a weird shape. It was hollow inside and open on one side. I took a few pictures of it and started to move on. 

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As I'm snapping pictures, I notice that Sakari is still over by the huge coral. So I'm looking at her and she's motioning me to look inside of it. She keeps pointing at something but we are on the side of the coral that is full. I'm just not seeing what she's seeing.

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Finally I see it! It's a large Lionfish! It was the first and last one we would see on this trip. I know they have gotten really bad down in the Caribbean and everyone is hunting them to try to kill them off. But, we have a special place in our heart for them because we had one as a pet! Yes, I said pet. Our "Mango" (what Sakari named ours) had such a personality. It would follow us when we walked by the tank. It would come to the top and want fed. It would do all kinds of neat things. It was our pet (although I made the mistake of putting "Sandy" (our Goby) in the same tank and I think she ended up lunch for Mango one day. :(  That was my mistake. 

Now it's very hard to see it because it was hiding in the dark, but I tried my best to lighten the picture. 

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Ok, I finally seen it and time to move on. Sakari was ahead of me when I spotted these clams in the rocks. I had seen several of them since we've been here and I kept mistaking them for the red spiny sea urchins. But not this time. I was going to get pictures this time!

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Man I had really wished that Sakari was beside me to get a good close up of these. She had the good camera! But, she was off taking her own pictures. 

The reason we spent so much time in this area, pretty much just circling around and exploring everything, was because the other family that was out with Lisa was having some difficulty. They were up at the top of the water way up there. Where they freaking out like I do at times? I knew it was their first time. 

So we waited and waited and waited. We were all trying to figure out what was going on. Our guide kept watching and keeping us all in the same place. 

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After awhile of waiting, we adopted another diver. It was one of the kids that was with the other group. He was continuing on with us while (I assumed) the others were going back and wasn't going to dive. It really sucked that we wasted so much time waiting on the other group, which cut into our dive time. But on we went...

Now I think I messed up on this next picture. Obviously Sakari didn't take this picture of herself. If so, she has some mad skills. Oops, just name stamped it wrong. 

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There was a little Goby or some type of fish in this coral. Too bad I didn't have the good, clear camera.

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Here's another one of those white fuzzy creatures crawling along that I seem to think might be a nudibranch. 

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Now I had made a decision to hang mostly with Sakari this time around. Every single dive we do, she's always seeing "the good stuff" and I seem to miss a lot of it. She was busy taking pictures and I was right beside her and then I kinda looked past her and seen a ship wreck. The hubby was already headed that way and looking at me to come on. I had to wait to catch Sakari's reaction when she seen it. She loves shipwrecks. 

I think I labeled this picture wrong as well. That's definitely a picture of me heading to the ship that Sakari took. Man, ultimate fail this time around. LOL

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Hey at least when Sakari took her camera off the macro setting and put it on underwater she was able to get "normal" colored pictures. It looks so eerie sitting there on the ocean floor. She kept saying to me after we returned "you don't know how bad I wanted to swim through the windows of the shipwreck. "

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Sakari and I were exploring every inch of this ship and loving it! So many things to see!

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Sakari and I had managed to circle almost the entire length of the ship and was coming around the corner when I see the hubby motioning me to COME!! He kept pointing underneath the ship and giving me the BIG hand gesture. I wasn't seeing anything. He kept pointing. Still nothing. Now most of the area we were in was a sandy bottom so that meant there was a lot of sand kicked up from both us divers and whatever was under that ship. I couldn't see anything. Whatever it was, I had missed it darnit. 

However, our guide didn't miss it and here's the pictures he took.

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I was a little upset when we got back and I discovered what I had missed. At least the hubby was able to get a video of it on the GoPro. You can see in the video the instructor motion him over and point. I should have been paying more attention.

This is all of us looking and trying to figure out what we were missing out on:

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So we missed the eel. It was time to move on and our instructor was motioning us to "come". Sakari had managed to flip back to her "macro" setting.

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Now somehow she managed to get some normal pictures. That or either I took the pictures and name stamped them wrong. At this point, who knows! LOL