A Travellerspoint blog

The Ultimate House Build for charity

Costa Rica unedited

Here's another attempt at a video showing how our building project went.... really! I know YoutTube killed my last soundtrack so I made a more "natural" one! :-)

Posted by beckywicks 03:22 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

The Costa Rican chiwawa killer...

Last night, our taxi driver murdered a dog. One of those small, yappy numbers who frequent the handbags of rich “it” girls like Paris Hilton and whose death quite probably did the human race a favour… but still, it was murder, and not a very nice one. The thing is… it happened after we were all involved in a few murders ourselves and thus presents a bit of a quandary. Is it right to be disturbed over the death of a living creature, when just minutes before, I had fished a happy trout from a pond and handed its pleading, flapping body over to a man who snapped its head off and marinated it in deliciousness, before serving it to me on a plate?

We were driving home from another great night on the trout farm, bellies full and glad accomplices to fish murder, when our taxi driver mowed right over a small chiwawa, which was standing in the middle of the road. We’d narrowly missed him on the way to the farm – his tiny beady eyes narrowed briefly in confusion at our approaching headlights, before he trotted swiftly off to the side. On our way back, he wasn’t so quick. In fact, he didn’t even move at all…just kind of stood there with his Tom Jones tan coloured fur shining in the moonlight, watching his short dog years flash before him. And then, BAM. So tragic.

Perhaps it was suicide. Perhaps he was so depressed with his lazy life in the lush green land of small town San Ramon that he wanted to end it all. Or perhaps, like many chiwawas, he was just a little bit thick. Either way, he’s dead.

The worst thing was though, the taxi driver didn’t even blink!! The 4 of us in the back couldn’t BELIEVE it. Not a flash of recognition registered on his face as we all felt the chiwawa sized bump beneath our car. Our ice-skating champion wanted to go back to see if it was ok, but one of us heard it crack and squelch as our wheels ploughed over it, so we didn’t think that would be wise. Stray dogs are everywhere in Costa Rica… maybe the taxi driver views them as having zero worth, but seriously, he didn’t even slow down. On a clear road, on a clear night, he didn’t even swerve. Perhaps he actually tries to squash them on a daily basis, counting up his sick puppy killing score on a secret sheet of paper in his glove box. Perhaps, after he dropped off his witnesses, looking shocked and outraged as we walked to the pub, he drove back to photograph the evidence in order to brag to a troop of equally murderous dog crunchers. We can’t speak Spanish, so we couldn’t ask.

Costa Rica is lovely and so are its people. But I wouldn’t want to be a dog.

Posted by beckywicks 09:17 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Frogs and crocs not of the shoe kind...

Last weekend we took the bus to La Fortuna, a touristy town about 2 and a half hours away from here that sits at the foot of an active volcano – Volcan Arenal. It last blew its top in 1968, previous to which they just thought it was a big hill. Doh. They used to climb up it, too. Imagine being up there on a nice little hill trek at the moment it decides to burp and belch! Error. Anyway, according to Lonely Planet one of the lakes in one of its four craters has experienced sinking water levels recently, which means it could well be up for another eruption pretty soon. Even though in volcano years, that may mean 300 years from now. Boring.

We larged it at the gorgeous Tabacon hot springs and spa thermal resort (thanks for the tip Hannah and Kate!) It was probably one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen – oh and it’s a part of the leading hotels of the world group, so it should be really! It consists of all these hot and cold water pools formed from the river, all of which house pasty white sprawling Americans sporting various degrees of sunburn, and a few awesome waterfalls to sit under too,… and it’s all in the midst of this luscious rainforest setting, think bright red and tropical plants and a heap of luminous green lizards. Beautiful.

We also got the chance to take a couple of rainforest tours – one was based around a series of hanging bridges, the highest of which was a scary 600 feet above the forest canopy. Awesome! I never thought I’d have the guts to look straight into a tarantula’s hole but I DID IT!! Are you proud of me mummy? Our guide shone his torch right in there and we could see his hairy fat legs…eeeeeergh. Makes me puke just thinking about it. We also saw these amazing little frogs, bright red with blue legs. Red poisonous dart frogs. “They’re only poisonous when they eat toxic critters though”, said our guide as he scooped one of a tree! Crazy man. Aside from that we saw howler monkeys, a crocodile (that was on the boat tour, not hanging from a tree, don’t be stupid) and tons of birds….. ooh we even saw a big yellow beaked toucan through our guide’s telescope. Did you know they mate for life? They sing to each other all day too, bless. Aaaaah, such a nice life.

Oh, I think the leaf cutter ants are the most impressive creatures though. They spend all day carrying massive bits of leaf and twig three times their size, in a straight row like a little production line towards their nest. A queen ant can live up to 20 years and apparently when she dies, the army dies too. How tragic. But they’re such dedicated little workers – way more dedicated than me, sifting my fricking sand from a giant pile all day. You don’t see ants complaining, heading off to spa resort for some sweet relaxation, even though they clearly could. They just shift stuff around all day to please some expectant lady on a throne who probably doesn’t even know their names. That has to be the best job in the world, come to think of it. The power!!

Costa Rican wildlife really is something else… and even though, just like in Kenya when we went on safari, I was slightly disappointed that the animals weren’t all lining up to greet me and my telephoto lens, it was such an incredible experience being in the rainforest, knowing that there were a hundred pairs of eyes on us even though we couldn’t see them. I’ve heard the scenery, beaches and animals up in Manuel Antonio is even better, but unfortunately we won’t have a chance to go up there on this trip. Perhaps that would be best saved for sometime when it’s not pissing it down every 5 minutes – they don’t call it the rainy season for nothing! I KNOW I said I wanted rain and that I was sick of the dusty dryness of Dubai but seriously… I take it back. Please god, give us one day with rain!!!

Posted by beckywicks 09:16 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

A local place for local people...

So far, I think I’ve really fallen in love with Cosa Rica. Or maybe it’s the nature singing out at me from every corner; the way the chicadas, birds and crickets create a soundtrack to every single moment that’s just missing in Dubai. There’s a lot to be said for the way mother nature makes you feel – I guess it’s sort of bringing me back to reality in a way. And life here is so simple too, well, especially in this little town of San Ramon, where our host family live. They have a small house, with just one bathroom for the 5 of them and all the guests that filter in and out – bringing them just 12 dollars a day per person from the volunteer organisation I to i.

Our host mum works as a cleaner and also makes beautifully tacky art from used wine bottles – seriously, it’s stunning stuff, the kind of things you’d see in little country cottages on windowsills, adorned with a curled up cat. She coats them in coloured sand and sticks painted clay animals like parrots and toucans on the sides. Feels a bit wrong to like them, but they’re fab. She even gave us one last night after we expressed our interest. There’s a festival here at the moment – the San Ramon festival. He was the bloke who founded the city… I think. Not quite sure, but it means the town is alive with music, dancing, bingo games, food and arts and craft stalls. We told Mama Tico she should have a stall there for her bottles but she says it costs $300 for the two-week privilege. We all know they don’t have that much money.

Our host daddy works 3 jobs just to pay the bills and put rice and beans on the table. He comes in late at night in his fast food uniform looking worn out, but honestly, I have never known such a happy man! He lights up the room when he smiles and when he looks at his wife it’s so adorable, you just know he feels like the luckiest man alive. They’ve been married for 16 years and she’s about 10 years older than him. They dated for one day before they got married. ONE DAY. Can you imagine that? Imagine knowing that someone’s right for you after just one day – how much drama, hassle and heartbreak that would save! Or maybe life is so simple, so black and white here, they don’t need to spend hours over analysing emotions and feelings, pouring over text messages and reading between the lines of emails. Maybe love is love and like is like and that’s the end of that. They’ve got 3 kids who are all gorgeous, bright and happy so they must be doing something right, even if they have to work so hard and give up their home to volunteers, like me, who can’t speak a word of Spanish and just has to sit there, clogging up the armchair like a rich mute, tapping away at an expensive laptop.

I feel a bit funny about that, really… I think it’s inadequate, maybe a bit stupid? They’re such interesting people. I really want to talk to them instead of waiting for translations. I can tell she’s got a wicked sense of humour. The daughter, Veronica is 13 and really wants to talk to me too. She bought me some earrings yesterday from one of the festival stall. I’d love to tell them all about Dubai and to hear about their own lives – we bought them a book about the city and they love it, they keep pouring over the photos of the glitzy buildings and asking us where we live. I’m not used to feeling like I can’t communicate,… it’s a really unsettling feeling that actually makes me feel a bit more grateful that I can write, even if it’s just in English. I’m going to have to learn Spanish,… get one of those audio lesson kits or something. It would be amazing to come back in a few years and talk to them properly.

Personally I don’t think they get paid enough from I to i. I’m not going to harp on about how I think I to I need to pay more attention to the needs of their volunteers or host families, as they’re doing a good job in getting people to the projects in the first place, but when you take into consideration that we spent 4 days waiting for the right tools to enable us to do our jobs on the site properly, and so far all we’ve been expected to do is dig a hole and sieve rocks from a giant pile of sand… arrgh. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being picky. I just think they could be filtering a lot more of that fat profit they’re allegedly not really making, into the projects we’re here to be a part of. Maybe I should have done a teaching project – there’s an orphanage here with 11 kids that 2 volunteers are working with – although allegedly they’re not doing much for them either, just a lot of sitting around getting ignored by the local staff. Whatever… I just don’t think building’s for me. I don’t get along too well with mud… unless it’s part of a spa treatment. I DEFINITELY have a new found respect for Dubai’s labourers though. It’s a tough job standing out in that heat all day, letting the monotony drive you mental! Standing there sifting took me back to my days in the factory, wiping the rims of pots of coleslaw, wandering as to the meaning of life. Or MY life… more specifically.

Anyway, we only have one more day left here and then it’s off to Nicaragua, where we’re heading to a place that looks like paradise. Little Corn island…

Posted by beckywicks 09:16 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Diet Coke Break! (sort of)

Whoop whoop, just what every building site needs!

Here's something you might not see on building sites in Dubai. Or anywhere for that matter :-)

Posted by beckywicks 11:15 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

The first video on site...

Look how hard we're working!

Here's a little video installment of our group hard at work on the building site in Costa Rica. If this is coming up on a facebook note and you can't see it, click here to watch it on You Tube!
Unfortunately though, if you watch it on You Tube, they have snipped the soundtrack off it,... b*stards! I edited to "The House that Jack Built" by Aretha Franklin cos it was PERFECT, but oooooh noooo, that's not allowed (sulk). I thought it still worked on the blog but obviously not... just play the track over it yourselves, hehe!

Posted by beckywicks 16:06 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

The house that Becky (and others) built...

and a shed load more rain

rain 25 °C
View WESTWARD BOUND on beckywicks's travel map.

It’s still bloody raining. Comes rolling over the mountains at about lunch time and hammers it down well into the night, which means we had to cut the project short today, pull on our sexy waterproof jackets and head home pretty much after lunch. I hate to say it but we’ve actually been hoping for rain. Means we get the afternoons free, (we’re not allowed to work in the rain, according to the boss) but there’s really not much else to do in this town when we’re not on the site, except sit indoors and type… oh, I filmed a little video on the building site though, edited it quickly and amateurishly on iMovie so you can see where we’re located and what goes on. It’s not what we were expecting at all!

I think I imagined true poverty, possibly corrugated tin walls… sloshing through mud amongst chickens as the waiting family slept rough on the opposite doorstep, watching our every move with teary eyes. In actual fact, the plot of land is spacious with a view of the entire rainforest and a pony down the road. The house will have 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and an open living room and kitchen. It has slabs of concrete for walls and when it’s done, it will have a porch with potential for hanging baskets, electricity and the Internet. We met the would-be tenants yesterday; a smiley, pretty mum of four, well dressed with bright red corset and matching lip gloss. Two of her kids were glossy haired and grinning in their matching school uniforms. The girl spoke in English as she skipped away, and I waved to her from my place beside the hole we’ve been digging in the blazing sunshine, for her family’s impending bowel deposits. Is it wrong to feel a little disappointed?

The project so far is f***ing hard work, but fun fun fun! We’ve got a pretty good group of 6 of us,… me and the man, Fel and John from Montreal, who are actually doing this as part of their honeymoon, Chantal from the UK, who’s the current British figure skating gold champion (I SHIT YOU NOT, she’s a star) and Brandon from Toronto. As if bonding over the need to dig a giant 15 foot hole for a septic tank wasn’t working, we headed to Benz, the local bar last night for some Imperial beers and met a bunch more student volunteers, one of whom is a 17 year old, chain smoking rich kid from London. You get all types, volunteering,… and some of them, you have no idea why they’re here.

Anyway, the site is about a 10 minute bus ride from San Ramon where we’re based with our host family. I am happy to report the microwave is more than adequate… the whole house is actually nothing like I expected. We’re in our own room, which is nice. Even if we’re in bunk beds. I got the bottom bunk, naturally. I hate climbing down for a pee in the middle of the night, not to mention that I’m slightly more blind than I was when I shared them with my friend Claire, 20 years ago. TWENTY YEARS AGO! Jesus, I’m old. The family are awesome, the little 3 year old is the cutest child I’ve ever met, and although I’m slightly… shall we say cautious of the rice and beans, I can tell it’s going to be an altogether enlightening experience.

Will be uploading some photos soon, and in the meantime we’re planning a possible weekend jaunt to La Fortuna to see another volcano and maybe do some white water rafting, OR we may head out to discover some secret hot springs I heard about from an expat American who's been living off the tourist trail for 20 years. Whoo hooo! Just wish the rain would piss off when we're ready to start exploring...

Posted by beckywicks 15:49 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Costa Rica Rain!

Yes,... it's still raining....

rain 25 °C
View WESTWARD BOUND on beckywicks's travel map.

Here we are in Costa Rica baby!! And it’s PISSING IT DOWN. We knew it would be wet as it’s the “green season”, which I suppose keeps this country looking like the emerald city you see in sweeping tv documentaries, shot to the sound of birds squawking and monkeys grunting,… but we didn’t reeeeally expect to be crammed into a youth hostel with nowhere to go but two supermarkets and a Chinese restaurant (which is actually pretty good). Still, we have met some really great people so far and it’s surprisingly good fun getting back to my uni days, swigging beer and watching 90210 with a group of students and waiting for the rain to stop. We’re off out to a casino later,… following a meal of rice and beans which allegedly is something we’re gonna have to get used to (urrgh). We’ve already located Taco Bell and McDonalds. Sad, but essential. Tomorrow morning we’re leaving this small town Alajuela for San Ramon, the base of our house building project – yay!

Most of the other volunteers are younger – we’re talking 18/19/20. Gap years, uni breaks, rich kids with loaded parents, they’re all out here working on the various projects. Another group are going to do a sea turtle conservation project but there’s a slight controversy around it so far, as one group just returned with tales of how they only “worked” a couple of hours a day and only saw one turtle. They come out at night and are extremely shy. So the group just basically sat about on a beach in Mataea Palo for 2 weeks, smoking pot and getting pissed all day. Sounds fun… if you’re 20. Imagine paying 500 quid at age 29, generally aiming to improve the life of endangered sea turtles and being stuck with a group of delinquents who remind you how you used to act yourself, but now just consequently make you feel old as they grind their stick thin figures to pop and bottles of Smirnoff Ice? Hmmmm, quite glad we didn’t pick that project to be honest, though clearly I would have LOVED it back in the Lincoln days. Kind of wish I knew about it when I was 18, but it feels like so long ago now that I don’t think the turtles were actually endangered back then… hmmm…

Anyway, like I said tonight we’re going to a casino, whoop! Getting some practice in for Vegas. And tomorrow I can’t wait to meet the host family – we’ve seen photos of their house and it looks pretty good, even the microwave. Luckily it’s located a block from another supermarket so if they insist on those rice and beans three times a day (we’ve been promised as much) at least we can sneak it to the dog and nip off for some Pringles. Bring on the building!

Posted by beckywicks 15:47 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Living the HIGH life...

and other Jamaican observations

sunny 32 °C
View WESTWARD BOUND on beckywicks's travel map.

We’re pretty spoilt in Dubai but it’s nothing like the holiday-makers at the resorts we’ve been staying in this week. All inclusive hotels dot the coast of Negril and feed the whims of mostly American tourists looking to taste Jamaica from a silver spoon. It’s a costly business but everyone gets their money’s worth. Free flowing drinks, endlessly available food, live entertainment in the evenings, massage classes, jewellery making… you name it, you can do it. Yesterday there was even a tarot card reader in the main restaurant area, dishing out relationship predictions by checking who was and who wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, probably.

I like her game though. At Couples Negril, an interesting pastime is watching the people wandering or lazing about, hand in hand, arm in arm, smooching in the pool, and guessing where they met, what they do for a living, what pisses one off about the other. You really do get some odd couples. Love is all around us here.

One of the most interesting themes that resonates around these resorts however, is how little most people are willing to explore outside them. We’ve hired a car and the man used to live here 15 years ago, so although some things have changed in light of time and commercialism, we’ve had the chance to drive about and he’s shown me the colourful characteristics that first made him fall in love with it. It’s really quite sad, having experienced the warmth of the local people, the spicy fire of fresh roadside jerk chicken, the twisty winding jungle paths en route to Bob Marley’s hometown high in the mountains, that the majority of people arriving by coach at their all-inclusive holiday spectacular are happy to say they’ve seen Jamaica, when they really haven’t.

We’ve heard people verbally expressing their fear about stepping outside the confines of their hotels. On our first stop in Ochi Rios a young couple told us they’d ventured out and been instantly surrounded by guys asking for money and drinks. They were escorted to a taxi stop by a concerned bar lady and once home, safe and sound, they swore never to leave again. The thing is, they ventured out at night on independence Day, when gaggles of drunken guys from Kingston, high on weed and life had been dancing in the streets all day – a fairly intimidating sight for the pasty white sight-seers and an interesting one for the party people too. Other people say it’s dangerous to leave the hotel in Negril. How do they know? Someone told them. Word spreads like wild fire and sadly many people leave this place with false impressions of the world outside their all-inclusive windows.

The night we went out in Negril, we met a couple, Nick and (mind draws blank) from Miami who’ve been coming here to party for 20 years. They’re friends with a gentle rasta guy called McKenzie who supplies them with all the weed they need and can always be found, without fail, at a bar called Alfred’s. We were offered some of their infamous good stuff but I refused. Apparently mind-draws-blank smoked a bit in their hotel room before coming out and had to lock herself in her bathroom for two hours, just to avoid the “bats”. Nick then spent half an hour looking for his dogs, convinced he was still at home and they needed a walk. Seeing as my imagination is pretty unstable at the best of times, I thought it best not to trouble a bar full of people enjoying a drink, so I sipped a rum and ting, which is dark rum and grape juice. Mmm. Tastes a bit like kool aid, but alcoholic, naturally! No odd imaginings on my part after that, just a bit of dancing on the sand to some live reggae beats. Actually… it was probably more painful to watch than a stoner’s freak-out, but at least I knew where I was and the bats kept away.

The resort does run certain trips to the outside world. Couples pile onto buses and “explore” set places with strict time limits and instructions. One such place is the awesome Rick’s Café, right at the end of the coast, where the towering cliffs form a perfect drop to the stunning aqua sea and pumped up cliff-divers pose and jump to the ooohs and aaaahs of camera snapping tourists. Fifteen years ago, Ricks was just a small cliff top bar. The divers were still doing tricks and the cocktails were still flowing before the very best sunsets mother nature’s got to offer, but now it’s twice the size. There’s a stage for a live band. There’s a swimming pool for people spending money on drinks and one minute after the sun sinks into that sparkling sea, 50% of its custom files out the door, eyes on their camera screens, happy with their obligatory photos, back onto their waiting buses with the engines running in anticipation. God forbid they stay out after dark.

Some organised trips are worth doing – the ones that feel slightly less touristy perhaps? We took part in a horse-riding trip up into the mountains and the guides sang songs and made well-rehearsed jokes the whole way. The scenery up there is stunning – we learned all about the local fruits and sugarcane plantations. You can explore the waters by glass bottomed boat, jet ski, kayak… the man even had a few wind-surfing lessons! And we took a catamaran out with a group to swim in some caves, which was gorgeous.

It’s definitely the high life, whichever way you look at it out here. Even the people living in apparent poverty, sitting outside their rainbow coloured shacks selling snappers, breadfruits and bananas always seem to have a sparkle in their eye. Simplicity is their life. Music their master. Don’t worry, be happy is of course, their motto. I think I could stay here for a lot longer if we didn’t have to move on. If only more people would kill their fear of the real Jamaica and experience life outside the resorts and organised tours. It seems like such a waste to sit sipping free cocktails all day on a snow white sandy beach. And there’s something I never thought I would say!

Posted by beckywicks 10:30 Archived in Jamaica Comments (0)

The day I became a diver…

and had my first shark encounter!!!

sunny 33 °C
View WESTWARD BOUND on beckywicks's travel map.

Yesterday I became a certified PADI open water diver. Sounds pretty cool to type that! It was facing a fear as much as it was learning a new skill – at some point between the ages of 10 and 29 I developed a mysterious fear of putting my face under water – something I’m sure sprung from an early viewing of a drowning scene in some scary film I wasn’t supposed to be watching. Jaws, probably. But anyway, if you could see the sea here, you’d probably think the same thing I did. There’s something about the flat, calming Caribbean waters that make you want to get right to the bottom of what makes them so blue.

It’s a different blue to the Gulf in Dubai, probably because the sky above isn’t thick with sand. It stretches out to infinity and never shows a patch of murky grey or a reflection of a crane. The Caribbean is sparkling turquoise and mysterious navy, and each wave is soft, salty and refreshingly cool. You can see to the bottom from 20 feet above. Lying flat in the net of a catamaran two days ago, I saw giant starfish dotting the ocean floor, one after the after, like sunken Christmas tree decorations. Jet skis, kayaks and water skiers stir up the surface all around the coast where the resorts are, but further out the tides bash the cliffs and threaten colourful, carefully perched houses on stilts that were long ago claimed by creeping jungle vegetation, greener than the greenest greens you’ve ever seen. Nature is everywhere in Jamaica, still mostly unspoilt. I thought, if I’m really going to brave the depths of an ocean, I want it to be this one.

Our instructor is this awesome Jamaican guy called Sugar. He’s been here for 20 years certifying divers and hasn’t had an accident yet – always comforting to hear. We started in the swimming pool, naturally. The equipment is so heavy! I could barely lift it out of the water. It was kind of reassuring to be carrying so much air though. We spent a few hours learning basic skills; how to equalise, which is basically like you’d do on a plane by pinching your nose. We learnt how to use each other’s spare air under water in case ours ran out, and how…well, how not to panic and drown. I didn’t feel too great about taking off my mask, however. One of the skills you have to do to qualify is take off your mask under water, put it back on and blow the water out of it from your nose. Of course, at this point, all my fear came back to me. The mask was protection against my face-in-the-water phobia, but once it was off I was helpless, in a panic, drowning, being chased by a Great White, pushing for the surface! It took a while to master that in the pool, but I knew I had to do it, as the next day I’d be expected to perform the same act, 30 feet down in the sea, lying flat on the sand (gulp).

Even once you’ve got the swimming pool skills down, it’s a different story when you’re out on the boat, strapping on your BCD and fins and being told to jump straight into that infinite mass of thrashing blue that has always both fascinated and terrified you. I didn’t really have any words. I felt a bit like a zombie as I stumbled from safety and then gasped for too much air from my tank! But the surface is the worst part. It feels unnatural bobbing on the top of that sea, watching waves so different from the ones that lap the beach, coming right up over your head as the boat moves away! Once you’re under though, you forget what you were so afraid of. Once you’re under, you’re just another part of that crashing ocean, swimming in serenity, deeper and deeper, breathing your way out of every “squeeze” when you feel the pressure get to your head. It felt like no time at all until we were standing on the seabed amongst weirdly coloured coral, waving plants and inquisitive fish in some truly odd colours! I know everyone describes life under the sea as a completely different world, but how else do you describe a place so opposite to anything you’ve ever seen before? Sound travels faster. Light is bent and twisted, magnifying and morphing. Creatures look you in the eye and smile before flitting away faster than your poor human vision can follow. Looking up, the sun beats down from 30 feet above your head, lost occasionally in your own flow of bubbles.

We swam about for 10 minutes until we saw them – two giant nurse sharks hiding in a cave! Each was about eight foot long and sandy brown in colour – I could see their massive gills opening and closing as we glided above them and looked down. I felt my eyes bulge in my mask. That was probably one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever laid eyes on and so humbling when you realise that in spite of all the horror stories inspiring fear and dread, most of these creatures are as placid and fascinated when it comes to close encounters, as we are. Our instructor has stroked sharks in the past. While we were down there he even picked up an eel, which slithered off as gracefully under water as it appeared.

Coming back up again into the real world, I felt almost changed in some way. I guess it’s a bit like when you sample a mind altering drug and you can’t get what you’ve seen or experienced out of your head, and you can’t quite describe it either. When it came to finally taking my mask off on the seabed, I knew it was the key to entering this amazing world again. In a way, I craved the drug. So I did it. I felt the water rush over my face, sensed the endless darkness all around me, heard the slow robotic whoosh of air in my ears as I inhaled and breathed through my mouth, knowing I was 30 feet down and blind at the mercy of mother earth in her most awe-inspiring form. I sucked it up. Breathed all panic out with my last breath, did what I’d learnt until some five seconds later, my eyes were covered, dry and open again. When Sugar gave me the ok signal, I knew the ocean was and always will be mine!

The group who took a dive the day before us were lucky enough to swim with wild dolphins. Now I’ve got my PADI I hope I can do the same one day but I know for a fact I’ll never pay to do it at a theme park. What an amazing world I’ve always been so scared of. Makes me wonder what else I’m missing out on – what other fears I might conquer next!

Posted by beckywicks 10:26 Archived in Jamaica Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 19) Page [1] 2 » Next