Sunday, July 19, 2009

Taxi off to Taganaga

We were in no rush to leave the air conditioned comfort of La Brisa Loca. Perhaps because I was a little apprehensive about doing more dive lessons, not surprising considering how round one had gone. However, for the advanced diving certification there were no mask skills, which should have eased my nerves. But Adrian really wanted to do the night dive option.

As I mentioned before Jaws really scared (and scarred) me. And what is the first scene in Jaws? A randy couple goes for a night swim in the ocean and are attacked by Jaws. So perhaps you’ll understand why the ocean at night is one of my fear factors and why I was in no hurry to head over to the dive school to begin facing that fear. So we hung around La Brisa swimming in the pool and taking advantage of the wifi. I even tried to close the gap on this blog, because I knew once we were in school I’d fall behind again.

Melissa and Graham were also taking it easy – perhaps because they’d had no sleep since they’d arrived. They were some of the unfortunate souls in the dorm room next to the bar – the dorm room with a big open wall that faced the bar’s speakers. And they couldn’t even complain to the owners, because the owners had taken off with the single girls in the hostel to go party in Taganga. It was the Independence Day party weekend and Taganga was the party town and the hostel guys were partiers. For the old fart in me that was another reason to stay in Santa Marta until the last minute – navigating through throngs of drunk gringos is not my thing. Instead hung out with Melissa and Graham and chatted to the ever chipper Ollie. Ollie was by far more awesome than any of the yahoos running the place. Not only was he super helpful but he made a point to remember every guests name and their story so he felt like an immediate friend. Even anti-social Adrian liked hanging out with him.

But alas it was time to go. So we settled the bill and headed to the main street to catch a taxi. While the bus would have been cheaper, there would have been no room for our backpacks. The taxi also gave us better view of Taganga as we came down the mountain road (photo above). It actually reminded me of pictures of Greece, y’know that famous island where everything is white and blue and on a cliff over looking the sea. But with the cacti on the hillsides there was a little bit of Mexico thrown in. Whatever, it looked pretty darn beautiful from up above (too bad it was a bit less attractive at eye level).

At the dive school we were met and shown our rooms and given our books. The accommodations were nice and not just because they were free. There was a spotless kitchen with free bags of water (oh ya, I forgot to talk about the bags of water. In Colombia and other Latin American countries, you don’t buy a bottle of water you buy a bag. Less plastic used so I’m hoping they are better for the environment). Gerd was out diving with another group so we settled in and began reading all about our advanced dives. And once again, the listing of the worst case scenarios (this time all about the bends and exploding lungs) did nothing for my nerves. There were about 5 other students staying at the dive school and all were very friendly. As the advanced students, we were the diving veterans (I know, it made me laugh too) although rather than allay any fears I think Adrian may have freaked out a couple of girls by telling them about my mask skill disaster. Good thing, Rona, the Irish girlfriend of one of the divemasters was there to ease their nerves – and mine too. Having lived in Taganga for the last 2 years she also had some great suggestions for dinner. So we slipped out, had a bite and then called it a night because tomorrow morning we were diving at 8am.

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