Monday, January 07, 2008

Day 2: Christmas Day

One of the reasons I picked Dive Experience for our lessons was that they were doing dives even on Christmas Day, albeit a late one. The net result was that we had a nice leisurely breakfast, and walked down to the shop for our first dive only at 11pm. As I walked along, I recalled having a conversation a while back with my co-worker Meng. At that point, we were discussing the popularity of tropical islands as a vacation destination. My statement went something like: "I don't understand why anyone goes to one for vacation. I grew up on one, and don't see the appeal." Meng's reply was, "Yeah, tropical islands are over-rated." It was only after visiting St. Croix that I realized that I grew up on a pretty crappy tropical island. St. Croix was warm (80-85 degrees) but not unbearably hot. Unlike Singapore, though, St. Croix had low humidity, and that made walking around quite comfortable. The waters in St. Croix are also clear, blue and clean, unlike the green waters that I had grown up swimming in. I could definitely see paying to come here again.

Our first dive was to be a simple one, simply to explore and enjoy being under water. The boat took us to Eagle Ray, a 60' dive where our dive instructor, Gary Trommer took us on a leisurely exploration of the area. Diving is definitely a strange experience --- there is a ton of equipment to carry, and it's a pain to manage and use, but once in the water it is not cumbersome and easy to cope with. The sensation of floating and breathing easily underwater is perhaps like that of entering the womb, and the colors were not quite what I expected. It is indeed an alien experience.



Upon emerging from the dive we discovered quickly that there were quite amazing swells at the surface, maybe even as much as 10'. Lisa quickly got motion-sick and threw up, even after getting on the boat. I'm fortunately quite immune to motion-sickness (a good trait considering that I also signed us up for a week long sailing cruise). Fortunately, by the end of the ride to the next dive site (known as Blue Chute) she had recovered a bit, and we started on the skill demonstrations, which turned out to also happen so quickly and fast that we'd gotten through a lot of the syllabus by the end, getting into work we were supposed to do in the third dive as well. I did have to tow Lisa back to the boat at the end of the second dive, but all in all, I was pleased with our progress.

Rested and relaxed, we went back to our hotel early enough to find the bar still serving lunch. We ate lunch and I snorkeled a bit before we retired for the evening.
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