Monday, March 24, 2008

Cozumel: First day, a warm up dive

Late Sunday Afternoon, after I'd rinsed and put away my gear I walked down the sunlit concrete pathway to the water's edge by the pier. If you look seaward you may see bubbles coming up off the artificial reef out in front of Scubaclub Cozumel. What this indicates most likely is that guests have probably checked out tanks from the dive concession, strapped them on, and walked into the water or strided off the pier.
That is exactly what I did Friday after my arrival, clouded a little by lost luggage containing my dive lights and some other sort of important but not totally essential gear. I checked in, ignoring the fatigue from having taken the red eye to Houston Thursday night and then connecting to Cozumel Friday morning. As I checked out a tank and put my gear together, realizing that I was only feet away from crystal clear, vibrantly azure, warm water the horrors of the red eye (horrors indeed) faded from memory.

I walked the short distance to the small grotto with stairs down, perfect for dialing in weights, I passed the little thatched hut with six or so hammocks all in a row. I didn't know it at the time but Sunday afternoon I'd be in one of those hammocks pretending to model for a Corona commercial. The little grotto has a small archway that you swim through to get to the ocean. Once through it opens up into a jumble of volcanic rock walls and small buttresses surrounded by mostly sand, sand made by Parrotfish.

This opening was my first experience of Cozumel diving, and it was lovely. The clear water enabled me to see all the way across the property to the pilings of the pier extending to 20 feet depth or so. Further out there is a very interesting artificial reef made from cute little fish houses and structures that were probably condemned trash when on land. But underwater they became palaces for fish, and the fish are moving in.

Every little recess or overhang or indentation was populated by a Blue Tang that became agitated when you or another fish drew too close. I witnessed a few fishy skirmishes out on that reef.

Nearby an instructor was teaching a Scuba student a class and I swam around them to the far side of the reef.

Looking oceanward I saw an amazing fish. It looked like the Mola Mola we have in Monterey, but it was pure white. This was an Ocean Triggerfish (see pic above). Beyond it there was a shimmering wall of fish, French and bluestripe Grunts. They reminded me of another wall of fish I'd seen on kauai with Lynn.

Playing around Friday on the little concrete reef out in front of the hotel was a perfect warm up for the massive walls and gardens of the Southern Reefs that I visited in the next few days.

As I scrolled these memories of my first day, from my Sunday hammock perch, watching other divers going in and coming out, I thought, I'm basically on a liveaboad dive boat except that I sleep on land.
Saturday was my first day on the southern reefs, at Palancar Gardens. That story is next.


Anonymous said...

Wow - you are such a poet. The descriptions make me want to be there. Your writing style makes me miss you. I'm so glad you got there safe and sound. It sounds magical!!


rosie said...

this sounds so amazing! and very well writen!