As an expat now living on the island of Cozumel I never tire of sharing my good experiences. And, as many of you know, there have been many. Today, for example, I got to spend a morning on the ocean with a group of guys who love the water even more than me. In other words, they take their passion for the sea to depths I can only imagine since, so far, I have remained topside. But, that didn’t stop them from inviting me along and I’m so glad they did. But, before I go into the details, let me give you a little history.
This experience actually started close to a year ago. I’ve been sharing my day to day events through this blog and one of my readers, Dan, had been nice enough to comment on a few. This started a dialogue and we became friends, of a sort, through our words since we both share a love of this island. Then, about a month ago, he dropped me a line to say that he, along with family and friends, would be visiting in June and suggested we get together. Sounded like a good idea to me and today was the day. The fact that they dive, and I don’t, wasn’t a problem and, besides, far be it from me to say “no” to a day on the water. The bag was packed, the dogs were fed and I sat outside my apartment sipping some coffee until their car pulled up.
What a nice group of guys! Dan and his son, Tim, had been joined on their week-long trip to the island by Jay and his son, Edward. Two old friends and their boys, which could’ve caused me to feel like an outsider, but that wasn’t the case. Within minutes we were heading to the marina chatting like we’d known each other for years. I just love when that happens. Then, as we were driving down Melgar, Dan explained that we’d be spending the morning on a boat called The Makumba, and diving with Pancho Diving Adventures with Pancho himself and his assistant, Julio. In fact, I was told they were diving all week with the same crew. We got into a conversation about why they had such loyalty to Pancho and, as it turned out, they’d all become friends both on the ocean and off due to such good experiences over the years.
Once on the boat we headed out to the open water and then ran south. Although it was a cloudy day the water was still that lovely turquoise shade we have down here. As we were going along we continued to talk as if we were all old friends, which was quite pleasant. At some point I found out that it was to be Edward’s first open water dive after his certification. I asked him if he was nervous, but he just shrugged his shoulders and assured me he was looking forward to the experience. I made a mental note to take a couple of extra shots of him so he’d have a chronicle of the event. In fact, on the left you can see just a peek of him with his dad, Jay, along with Tim all talking with Pancho about the upcoming dive location. A better shot will come later.
Soon we got to their first spot, the Palancar Reef. Pancho spent some time explaining the details of the dive, much of which I didn’t really understand, and then they suited up and over they went. Julio stayed up top with me and watched for their bubbles so he’d know their location. Meanwhile, I spent about twenty minutes trying to spot the bubbles myself with absolutely no luck. I finally gave up and asked him to show me and, with a grin, he pointed. To be honest, I still didn’t see them and am just happy that watching out for the guys wasn’t my job. But, to feel like I was doing something I asked him to pose. That’s him in the pic on the right.
After that I thought it might be nice to take a quick dip. The water was a bit choppy, but warm, and I had fun just paddling alongside the boat. Then, soon after I got back on board, Edward was back and, after Julio helped him with his equipment, I was able to grab a shot. I’m thinking, from the looks of his smile, that his first official dive was a success. Then we got to spend some time talking and I found out that we shared a love of all that is the theatre and film. It made for some fun conversation while we waited for the others.
Within half an hour the rest were back and they all got busy talking about what they’d seen. This is where I’ll include another underwater shot just to help with the mood, but they were, obviously, not taken by me. Dan was nice enough to let me download some shots he’d taken so I could include them. I have to admit, when I see the beauty of the underside I get tempted to take up the sport. I wouldn’t be surprised if, one of these days, I’ll be announcing that I’m getting certified. The more time I spend here the more I realize that I may not be enjoying one of the real perks of living on this island. But, that’s a thought for another day.
Dan (that’s him on the left) started to show me his camera and how easily it could be used. He mentioned that he would leave it topside for the next location if I wanted to try it out. But, after I gave it some thought, I knew that I wouldn’t want to risk it. I don’t know about him, but my camera is another appendage at this point and I’d hate to do something stupid, which I’ve been known to do from time to time. Then, while we were talking, I noticed that Pancho was sitting in some good light. The sun was so intermittent that I couldn’t pass up the chance. You can see that shot on your right. I assured him it was my “beefcake” shot of the day. I’m not sure he understood, but he just grinned some more.
After some fresh cantaloupe and mango, along with icy cold water, was handed around we headed off to their next location, Chankanaab. As we sped along I noticed that we were not alone. In fact, there were probably a dozen, or more, boats in our general area. I asked them if they’d seen any other divers while below and they all told me they had. But, it’s a big ocean and they seemed happy to share the experience. In another ten minutes, or so, we’d arrived at Chankanaab and they all suited up again. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Pancho, once again, talked to them about the details of the dive and, in a flash, over the side they went.
Soon after they’d disappeared I watched as a rather large boat started to get fairly close. Of course I grabbed my camera and, I’m happy to say, as they passed us by they struck a pose. There are some friendly folks down here, which helps make my “job” easier. But, once they were gone, it got so quiet that all I could hear was the water lapping against the side of the boat. Although Julio and I had been talking quite a bit, at that point neither one of us said a word. I think we were both just enjoying the serenity. But, as the sun peeked out, it was getting time to take another dip while waiting for the guys. So, over the side I went.
Fairly soon after I’d climbed back on board the others starting popping back up. And, once again, gear was handed up, towels came out, and everyone started comparing notes. This went on for a while and then, suddenly, Tim decided to practice some of his gymnastic skills. I’d heard he’d been quite the champ in his high school days so I wasn’t surprised when he easily did a flip off of the boat. Unfortunately, my skills with a camera aren’t quite at the same level. Still, I was able to catch the last half second before he was fully submerged. Applause and laughter was all around and then it was time to head back to the marina. It had been a good day.
Once we were all back in the car Dan extended an invitation for me to join his group for dinner on Thursday night. I happily accepted and, soon after that, I was climbing the stairs to my apartment. As always, the sun and sea had done their thing and I was ready to take a nap. The knowledge that I had nothing more pressing to do just made me smile. Yes, life on this island is a good thing and all the better when new friends have been made. Thanks guys. Salud!
p.s. all underwater shots by Dan Burns…………..and, I don’t intend to promote, and never receive compensation, but I was a guest of a gracious host ( have to stay honest ) 🙂