PUERTO RICO: Monday, August 1, 2005
On Monday morning, we rose at 7:00am, checked in at the dive shop, and sat down on the patio for a waffle (Drew) and pancake (Wendy) breakfast. The plates came out with waffles/pancakes only. Nothing else. It was warm and decent for eating pre-dive. We were joined by Orlando, a diver originally from Ponce (a little town nearby), stationed in Arkansas with the Air Force. Tomorrow he was going back up to Ponce to celebrate his daughter’s birthday with their family, but today he was diving with us.
We met divemaster Robby, a blonde surfer-dude-type from Knoxville and Angel, local-boy shop owner and captain of the boat. Both were younger and cooler than we’d expected (not that we had any expectations going in…). Both were extremely knowledgable about diving.
Robby (l) and Angel (r)
We loaded our gear and boarded the boat for the 20 minute ride out to “The Wall”, our first dive site. There were only the five of us — Angel, Robby, Orlando, Wendy, and Drew — on the boat.
When the boat arrived at the site (Drew was amazed that Robby & Angel fine-tuned our location visually — just by peering over the side of the boat into the water), we donned our gear and splashed. We dropped down to 85 feet.
During the dive, we saw 2 large moray eels, several lobsters in holes, and a big grouper that we could barely see over the ‘edge’ of the wall. Robby also pointed out Pederson’s Cleaning Shrimp — tiny shrimp that, when provoked, will jump on your fingernail and give it a vigorous cleaning (go here to see a couple of these little fellows — they’re the spiny blue things in the picture).
After our dive, we had a one hour surface interval while the boat puttered toward the next site. During the interval, we enjoyed the sandwiches, cookies, and drinks that the crew had brought.
Our second dive was at a site called “Ledges”. During the dive, Robby pointed out a “Flamingo Tongue” on a sea fan. The top-left picture, below, is of that critter. Wendy saw a trumpet fish near the end of her dive (she clocked 1:08 on her dive computer!) and many black durgeons.
At Robby’s suggestion, we went with Orlando to Dave’s (a restaurant) for lunch after the dives. We enjoyed wings, pizza, and sandwiches in the open air restaurant. Drew was pleased that the restaurant offered free internet access. After that, we went to the room for a siesta then back to Dave’s for a drink and more internet to find the number for the tuxedo place. When we called them, no one there spoke any English but Wendy’s Spanish was sufficient to determine that we could return the tuxedo to the store in Mayaguez (about 30 minutes away) instead of the store in San Juan. We decided to do so the next day after our morning dives.
For dinner, we dined from the local Chinese restaurant — Comida China (where they advertise “all our shrimps are fried”) — which seemed to specialize in Chinese and local (criollo) food. We had brocolli and shrimp and a garlic shrimp dish, all served with white rice and (unexplicably) french fries. We ate dinner in our room and took the leftovers out to the dock to feed the fish.
Robby could blow air rings
To view all the pictures from this trip, click here.