Saturday, August 23, 2008

The East Coast Adventure, Part II

Day 2 (written the same time as day 1; see note at end of previous post)

The first thing we did was turn off the alarm instead of hitting snooze. If not for Connie calling, I’m not sure when we would have woken up. The plan for the morning was diving, which meant being at the pier at 8:30. We’d set our alarm for 7:00, and needed to leave by about 8:10. Connie called at 8:00, so after several minutes of scrambling to get ourselves in order, make sandwiches, and one trip back for forgotten cash (need to pay for the boat dives!), we were off, and only about 10 minutes late. Even if the operation was run for mainlanders, it was still kind of on island time, so nobody even mentioned we were late.

They took us out to a reef with two bowls, to a depth of about 60 feet, where we saw a good assortment of corals, a couple of lobsters, an eel, a group of jaw fish, some garden eel, and even one small nudibranch. The second dive was at a different reef, a bit shallower, and more of the same. This was the first test of a new underwater camera we’d gotten just for this trip (a smaller, lighter, less elaborate one than John’s) , and the first time I’d played with an underwater camera. Hopefully we’ll get pictures up soon; keep an eye out.

After the second dive, John and I decided to hang out in the water a few more minutes, since the 3rd diver wasn’t out yet. Then, I felt something stinging me, first on my arm. My first thought was "Sea lice? What the fuck are sea lice?? Even the sea has lice here!!" (For those of you who haven’t read The Sex Lives Of Cannibals, (1) read it; it’s awesome, and (2) this is a quote from it.) I didn’t really know what it was, although I think I was already vaguely thinking jellyfish (but hadn’t quite gotten as far as the term); mostly I was thinking about getting out of the water as quickly as possible. I swam toward the boat, and wound up getting more stingers on my neck before I managed to leap out of the water (never mind waiting for the dive master to get out of the way – Amy wants out!).

The captain and dive master were the ones that said "Yeah, probably jellyfish larva." I asked if they happened to have any vinegar; no, but they had ammonia. Ammonia. Like, the stuff in Windex. To put on my skin. Well, you know, I was stinging, and that’s what they recommended, so heck, I put it on. It didn’t do anything noticeably bad (besides making me smell like window washing), and it took the sting away pretty well, so I was happy. Upon examining myself, I had a few dots on my left forearm, a swath across my neck, and what I dubbed a "jellyfish bracelet" of puffy red dots wrapped around my right wrist. Mostly, I was surprised how quickly they went down – by the time we were half way through lunch, which we went to right afterward, the swelling was almost completely gone.

Ah, lunch. One of my five favorite meals – and this place did not disappoint. Banana's, right on the waterfront, right across from the pier the boat went in and out from. Fish a chips, with fresh red snapper, and fries clearly made from real potatoes; deep fried bananas (John ate that; I had one and went "yup, weird as I thought they'd be... more for you!"); frou-frou drinks for our hostesses; and mozzarella sticks for "dessert" (they were out of ice cream, and John wanted mozzarella sticks anyway).

After a full morning of diving, what did we want to do? Snorkel! So, we set out to a peninsula joined to the island by a narrow walkway of sand, and puttered around for a while. The boat dive did have more to look at, but here we saw not only huge schools of tiny fish, but a large spotted eagle ray.

After our 3rd time in the water, for a total of probably 3.5 hours for the day, we were feeling a bit salt- and water-logged, so we came home and cleaned up. When everybody was ready, we headed out to a lovely restaurant called Trade Winds. For those of you who’ve been to Hawaii, it’s kind of like Café Pesto, but with the décor of Uncle Billy’s, or that restaurant across the street from the King Kam – good, interesting food (urban, even), but with light covers woven from palm leaves, and everything made out of visible wood, much of it not even cut into rectangular boards. Here too, the food left us full, happy, and tired.

So, here I sit, my jelly fish stings coming out a bit again, with the A/C in our bedroom running, and John snoozing softly beside me, face down without even a sheet over him, since he passed out while trying to cool off. It’s all worth it when you get in the water, though.



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