Woke up this morning to find I had no ride to the port where my PADI course was taking place. I could not believe it – how could they have omitted me from the list? I was in luck though – some people got so drunk the night before that they weren’t able to dive anymore, so I simply took their place in the car.
We arrived at the port early, giving me time to stock up on supplies before having a Full English Breakfast (they’re big business out there). I meet Faye (my diving course companion) in an old haunt of ours from April – Victoria’s Cafe. I sit and I look out to the port and I suddenly see the distinct image of Candy walking to her boat. She’s hurrying, so she’s naturally late, but the camera in her hand makes her unmistakable. Evidently, she’s still here, and still working. It was nice to know she was still alive and well, but I didn’t really fancy popping up in front of her ten minutes ahead of my course start, and it may have been awkward if she hadn’t recognised me. I let her carry on to her daily routine, and I entered in Zero Gravity’s lobby.
Me and Faye had much company today in the form of several AWF volunteers – there were others with different companies out on the seas as well. It soon became apparent however that all we were doing today was a try-dive, just like my two previous diving experiences. I was handed a wetsuit, which broke when I tried to do the zip up – typical. The replacement was the type that covers most of your torso and leaves your arms and legs bare and open to the elements. Still, it was better than nothing.
We geared up and went through the standard run-through of basic scuba diving 1-0-1. The staff were all really friendly. Then we went out in diving boats into the blistering mid-day heat, and went for a paddle in Turtle Bay. I had some time to kill before I went down myself, so I splashed around with just some flippers and goggles. About ten minutes into the dive however, around the back of the boat, I suddenly felt a sharp slicing feeling in my left arm. I quickly paddled away, all too aware that I had been stung by a jellyfish. Upon closer inspection, I could see it had drawn a little blood and was stinging. I wasn’t too concerned though, as the pain was nothing worse than your usual bee sting.
However, I was concerned about all the other divers in the water. I paddled over to my friend Jerome and warned him of the local jellyfish. I showed him my arm, but he wasn’t too concerned either. He told me he’d seen one some ways back behind him out at sea, confirming that the incoming tide was indeed drawing in some rather painful locals into the bay. Upon hearing this, I ducked my head under the water to have a peek around and see what was happening below the waves. And lo and behold, what should I see about two feet in front of my face? My old friend, the Portuguese Manowar, floating straight towards me in my immediate vicinity. In the first second, you think there’s no way your luck can be that bad, but then in the next second, you see the little white gelatin capsule with the three fluffy pink anemones suspended inside (magnified wonderfully due to light refraction under water). I knew these little guys from my previous visit – they operate using one lone tendril that can extend for tens of meters. So I did what anyone in that situation would do: I calmly raised my head back above the surface, looked at Jerome who was also right next to it, and… well… RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!!!
The dive was really nice – no painful ear ache to spoil the experience this time around. I dove along the ocean floor, looking intently at all the little multi-coloured fish weaving in and out of the seaweed-covered rocks. Aquariums will never do tropical fish justice again. I re-pressurized my head all the way around, and even had a photo taken (though I have yet to see it). We had to wait on the boat for a while after the dives had finished, meaning most of us suffered bad sun burn in the later hours of the day.
After diving, we got some food at a local diner – for some reason I chose the mixed meat kebab. I had a phone call from my mum, and it was nice to hear a familiar voice. After lunch, we all walked miles back to Los Cristianos from Porto Colon, somehow getting so lost on the way we decided to sneak into some hotel grounds and chill by their swimming pool for a while (we all knew we had a pool back at our house, but this one was… big?).
For the PADI course, the next lesson will be next weekend, but before then Faye and myself have a huge book to read. It was my intention to read it during the night, but something else happened instead.
‘Crazy Dutch People’ Night
Due to my premature absence the night previous, I was all too happy to party a little longer tonight. Nobody had any money, and the only ones who seemed eager were ‘three crazy dutch people’ – Rose, Kasper and Davey. We were aiming to see a famous DJ in Las Americas called Tiesto, but it instead turned into a matter of national pride – Dutch vs British, two cultures infamous for being able to hold alcohol better than any others. The Dutch were quick to challenge, and I was quick to accept.
What followed was what could perhaps be described as the total domination of Las Americas. We got out of the taxi into a really seedy place, where people were already trying to physically drag us into their clubs, and making perverted comments about Rose. We went to the nearest ATM, then hit Oasis. The amount of alcohol that was consumed was not for the faint-hearted – this goes down as certainly perhaps the craziest night I’ve had all year. For five euros, we got an almost unlimited supply of shots, ranging from sweet tropical things, to whisky, bacardi, tequila slammers and vodka. I drank one litre cocktails quicker than them, but they handled their whisky much better than I did. I did not throw up, but Davey did. Between the four of us, we finished off another litre cocktail in about fifteen seconds flat. Kasper had some laughing gas, which wrote him off. Davey officially declared himself drunk. Then it was just me and Rose, who wasn’t drinking too much. After we swept a massive alcohol lane of multiple cocktails, shots and mixers, we called a draw. Indeed, these two cultures are not to be messed with when it comes to this sort of stuff.
It was nice to be with people who could match up to the epic alcohol intake, without things getting dangerous or violent. I had a doner kebab from a place I used to visit frequently last time around – it was horrible though for some reason (I always claimed they were the nicest ones in the world). Upon trying to get more money out, all the ATM machines were broken (or broken into), meaning we had to travel around Las Americas to find one that worked. We stumbled across some fellow British party-goers, and sat out on the street with them as Las Americas started to close down all around us. People were still trying to get us into clubs, even at five in the morning.
I think the idea was to catch the first bus back, but despite watching the sun rise, we knew we’d have to once again do the walk to Cristianos. We decided to get a taxi back instead, as all three of the aptly titled ‘crazy dutch people’ wanted to take on the five-hour Masca Trail in the day ahead. I fell asleep in the return taxi, finally giving in after over twenty four hours awake. PADI was to be continued in the next weekend, so I knew I luckily had Sunday to recover. However, I did realise upon my return that I now had just pennies to my name.
Here are some of the more forgiving photos of the night: