Scuba Diving: San Francisco Wall & Palancar
Alex Salas of Alex Adventures Cozumel
Staying on the island for 11 days and scuba diving was something I really wanted to do. However, I had had 2 teeth extractions before we left for this beautiful island and was told I would not be able to dive from my dentist. He had said it would be an extreme amount of pain and the risk for dry socket. Well......I was feeling really great, my stitches had fallen out, I wasn't having any pain, and I had been snorkeling every day that we were here. We were ending the week of our trip and decided I would give it a try.
Soooo, I decided to send the following text to the diver that had talked to me before going on vacation and had told me that he would take us out to 2 reefs buy boat, brief refresher class since we had done the discover scuba so many times, and only charge us the price as a normal diver. I had told Ana (the person we had rented our house from) about this person and she said she didn't know of him but looked him up and said he seemed like he's a nice person, loves his diving and....loves animals, which in her book that meant nothing but positive signs. ;) LOL
I decided to send him the following message: "We really want to scuba. I've been snorkeling with the snorkel in my mouth with no problems. My stitches are already gone and it's closing. Is there any way we can still do it?
To my surprise he replied with "wanna dive tomorrow? We can dive shallow 60 ft" Now I have to admit I was in complete shock when he replied like that. I honestly had hoped we would be able to talk him into letting us dive, but I figured I'd have to really work for it.
My reply was "Remember we are discover scuba and can only do 40'" He said we could do Palancar at 40' and is was a great reef. He ask me what size fins and BC we were and where in town were we staying and then gave me directions on where to meet at 8:30am the next morning.
SAY WHAT???? WE ARE GOING DIVING!?!? I couldn't believe it! I was so happy yet somewhat nervous. I mean I knew I could snorkel with no issues of the snorkel bothering my mouth, but I had no idea what air was going to do to it. I predicted it wouldn't be an issues...but you never know.
Ok, it was time to head out. We were to meet Alex (or dive instructor) at 8:30 at the new marina and it was now 8am. You know I hate to be late. But...first a quick run to the bano while mi familia was waiting in the car.
We pulled into the marina, parked on the street area because the parking lot is next to nothing there, and then started walking to the building he told us to meet at and then the urge came over me again...I raced to the bano and was there for quite some time hoping to accomplish getting it all cleared out and hopefully I wouldn't have any other issues. This was an important day for us! Meanwhile, Alex is texting me saying "where are you at?". I told him I stopped to use the restroom and we would be there in a moment. Nothing like being rushed while taking care of business right?
We met up with Alex and headed straight to the boat. There was another older gentleman already on the boat that was going diving and had his own personal instructor. I guess this guy comes here every year and goes diving with her and she seemed to know everything about his family and children.
We headed out of the marina and was excited for the day...although I was a little nervous about my "situation" and what might happen.
Along the way, we stopped to pick up 5 other divers at a resort. They had been diving every day with them and still had a few more days to go. That's just crazy to me. I can't imagine going diving every single day while vacationing. I mean it's beautiful and fun and I'm sure you could see something different every day but still. Not something I would want to do. (They were all certified and not diving to complete their certification).
So we were almost to where they were going to take us (which was the San Franciso wall) and they started getting our equipment out. They ask if we wanted to wear a wet suit and pulled a few out. They handed one to Sakari and said that it should fit her and ask if she wanted to put it on. It fit but just a little loose around the legs. Hubby said he didn't want one because he struggles to get it on and off. They handed me one and I figured why not. Maybe it would hold in the diarrhea right?
We had arrived and they had told us that we could either step off the boat or plop backwards. I was all about going backwards...until they told me to "come" and I stood at the side of the boat wondering how do you sit down and roll off??? I guess you didn't. You just stepped backwards. Yea, that wasn't any fun so I decided to go frontwards.
For some reason I was the first to go off the boat. As I entered the water I was quickly drifting away. I was kicking to try to stay in one place and Alex kept saying come this way...as I was desperately trying while trying to take a video of the hubby jumping off as well. I didn't realize it was going to be such rough waters. I had read several times on the cruise forums about certified divers saying that the waters at Cozumel was drift diving and now I knew what they meant by that. I remember some divers saying it could be very dangerous while our instructor stated that it would be an "easy dive" and we'd just float along. All these scenarios were going through my head. Fear started to over come me and when he kept telling me to come over by him and I was really having to kick to do so, anxiety started to creep up on me. The hubby was kicking to stay there as well and then it was Sakari's turn to jump off the boat.
All of a sudden they yell "LOOK DOWN!!! LOOK DOWN!!' There was the biggest Spotted Eagle Ray ever! It was so beautiful and graceful and there was a diver swimming along by it and it made him look like a very small person. I really didn't want to miss Sakari jumping in either so I was holding my camera up toward the boat, with my face in the water watching the Eagle Ray and hoping that I got her jumping off. I don't know what I was thinking. It's not very often you see an Eagle Ray and I will see Sakari jump off the boat plenty of times in the future...but for some reason the camera was on her. I did hand the hubby the Gopro prior to jumping in, so I was hoping he was catching the video for me.
Sakari jumped in and immediately started taking pictures. I'm so glad she was able to capture one picture of it. Sakari has become my backup camera these days. Every vacation I have always brought at least 2 camera's and sometimes 3....just in case! You never know what could happen (and has happened to me in the past) like I bring camera's and batteries and extra everything! Well, now I just bring her as my backup. LOL A pretty good backup wouldn't ya say? She does an excellent job with her photography (and at her arts school, she actually takes a photography and photoshop class and her teacher has been very impressed with her work all year). I think she's a natural but her favorite photography is macro. She absolutely loves the macro setting so I let her have my "good" newer camera every time.
Once the Eagle Ray was out of site, Alex was telling us to "go down". Sakari was already down and the hubby disappeared out of my site and I'm still struggling with the water. I start to go down and I was getting into my head for some reason. All the surroundings and the bottom of the ocean was way down there and I looked up and I started to panic. I don't know why. I haven't done this in years now. I used to have an issue when I first started doing these dives and then I had over come any of the issues for quite some time. But today...today was different. I wasn't feeling comfortable and if I'm not comfortable yet, it's not going to work. Alex was yelling and pointing down. I told him to hold on a minute. I was doing some deep breathing and he floated over to me and grabbed my BCD hose and started deflating me! I'm shaking my head no and struggling to stay afloat and this is when I really started to panic. How dare him do that when I said I wasn't ready? He kept telling me to go down! I kept telling him to wait...l don't know what's wrong with me and this hasn't happened in a long time. Then he said "close your eyes" and started pulling me down again. Like what the heck! You can't just pull someone under water.
I did some more deep breathing and looking up at the sky and then I was somewhat ready. I eased myself into it and deflated my bcd on my own. Both Sakari and the hubby was watching me. They knew I was struggling. Maybe I just wasn't used to "jumping in and going". We had always went over skills and everything and this time all we did was went over the hand signals. Not that we don't know everything and have done it many many times before. I guess I was just not prepared to jump and go. As a matter of fact, we didn't even do any paperwork prior (or after) either! There was no record of us diving. What if something happened?
Alex had the line up with the buoy and signaled for me to grab it. I latched on and we swam. This helped a lot. I'm not sure why. It was like a kid holding their security blanket. Sakari actually took a picture of me holding the line.
I swam along like this for awhile before I finally felt at ease and let go. Taking pictures are my meditation and helps relax me and I was snapping away and trying not to think of all the things that were racing in my head. I will share some of my pictures but I'm going to warn you right now...I have NO IDEA what happened and the pictures are HORRID! They are not my normal pictures for sure. In the beginning, I know that I still had my camera on the land setting instead of underwater. They turned out green. I have tried to color correct them the best that I can but they are terrible.
Hubby was still worried about me and kept asking if I was ok.
It was right at this point that I noticed I had my camera on the wrong setting. Geesh! So, I switched to the underwater setting and continued. However, once I returned home and just now looked at my pictures...they are still horrid! I have no idea what's going on with my camera. I've had this issue in the past once before. Maybe it's just getting old and I need to buy a new one. I'm not sure. Sakari had the newer camera and her pictures turned out a lot better. Not only are mine weird colors but they were blurry as well. Like nothing is crispy focused like normal.
It was gorgeous down there! So much sealife and coral. The coral just went on forever and so many beautiful colors! There were so many MASSIVE corals down there too! I'm so bummed that my pictures didn't show the beauty of this area!
Now Sakari's picture has some of that annoying blue tint going on too but she was messing with her settings off and on (I could tell once I looked at all the pictures she took in a row because they would change and a lot of times she would also forget to take it off of the underwater macro setting and she'd get blurry far away pictures). I also think the clouds have a lot to do with it too.
But, here are her pictures up to this point.
Then Alex spotted this guy. He was huge! Sakari and I LOVE crab legs and this thing could have fed us both! See how blurry my pictures are compared to hers?
I have to say, there were a lot of beautiful anemones down there. I don't think I have seen as many as we did this day on any other dives.
Sakari went into macro mode and did her thing...
She was really pleased to see that Sir Pedro San Migual had found us here...we were pretty far down from Buccanos and he still managed to come swim with her. ;)
Now one of my favorite fishes is the trigger fish...which I have mentioned many times before, but I have never seen as many as I did diving here. They were everywhere and HUGE! Here's a beautiful Black Triggerfish (maybe a Durgon) and they can get up to 16" long! Sakari did manage to get pretty close to a lot of the fish. It's like they know she's one of them! (just look at the difference between mine and Sakari's pictures...ugh)
Now I have a collection of reef books that I look up fish that I may come across that I've never seen and want to know what they are. In this book, it tells you all about each fish and how they react to divers. Take note that this is what it says about the Black Triggerfish: Reaction to Divers: Wary and keep their distance. Usually move away when approached. Will retreat into crevices where they lock themselves in place by raising their stout triggers. But yet notice how close Sakari can get to them! However, people have them in aquariums and I've heard they are friendly and you can train them to eat out of your hand. Hmmm
Heck, I can't even get a clear picture of the hubs and Sakari...everything is blurry. BTW, hubby had the GoPro and it completely stopped working. We've only had it worked once on vacation. The last time, we couldn't even get it to turn on. I had worked on it prior to leaving and finally got it working again (it's so random) but right when you need it...it stops. **edit, after looking at the pictures, it seems as though it somehow got turned on during our entire boat ride and the battery had ran dead is my guess**
Here's a collage of my crappy pictures...let's just get some of them out of the way so I can hang my head in shame and go on with my life after this embarrassment. Go ahead and use your imagination about how colorful these corals were in real life. Close your eyes as Alex would say. #rollseyesinstead
A large barracuda was spotted in the distance. I've just never seen so many of them before on one trip.