Saturday, 15 October 2011

Marley and Me

This has been one of the BEST days of my life ... so far! Today, Ally and I started our Open Water PADI diving course, now to anyone who hasn’t been certified, do it! It is incredible, one of the best things I have ever done, and I can never see myself getting bored with it! 
We had a walk up to Marble Hill Farms, only about 40 minutes, in the morning after I had a (very) small class of 4 students, who decided to take up the opportunity to come to the saturday class, anyway, when we arrived, we were greeted by 3 pretty big dogs, all barking at us as we came up to road ... oh shit!! They were quite scary, until I remembered that I have dogs, and (hopefully) know how to behave around them, calm and collected .... well this sort of worked, we managed to arrive at the dive centre with only about 4 fingers missing off each hand ...... ok only one finger .... ok none, the dogs were really friendly and happy (brought back so many memories of my dogs, Dino and Olli) but I thought I would try and impress you peeps with a fight section in my soon to be novel (now just this silly old blog, to be honest I doubt anyone actually reads, so I think I am just talking to my computer screen!) Anyway, we were met at the door by a spanish man called, Pol, (I know weird name, does he like taking part in polls or what?) who had long sun bleached hair and a big moustache and beard, and about 32 years old. We said we were teachers in Punta Gorda and that we were looking to start our PADI course, we had emailed him before, so he knew what we were on about e.t.c. So we were only expecting to sign up today and do a little bit of theory, and paper work and start up a schedule that we could work to on when we could come back and dive and all the other cool stuff, so after we went into his office, he turned to us and said ‘So do you guys want to dive today?’ ... Urrr ... YEAH! Me and Ally just looked at each other with the best excited expression anyone could muster in the world, (we think we will partake in the Olympics with our faces) so he got out the PADI dive packs, which have the manuals and other bits of paperwork that we needed to fill out so that he could register us online.
So before actually diving, we had to watch a video which explained our first confined dive and the equipment that we would use, obviously with our heads being full of excitement, none of this went in, but we walked down to the dock and checked out all of the other equipment for real and got ‘suited up’ as he explained the exercises we would be doing and the skills me needed to master before going on any further, these included clearing your mask of water whilst underwater, taking out your regulator (breathing mouthpiece thingy) and then putting it back in underwater, sharing someone’s secondary regulator incase you run out of air and all of the various signals that go with these activities. This in itself was insane, and mind blowingly cool, so we were literally vibrating with excitement ....  urrr .... or was it the coldness of underwater ... I dunno. Pol (and his girlfriend, Ingrid, who had come diving with us) then told us that we would go and explore the bay a bit underwater, we were already darting off before he finished his sentence! This next 35 minutes of getting used to the equipment and seeing wild Lion Fish, Arrow Crabs, Jellyfish, Huge Starfish and countless other species of underwater life was the best thing I and Ally have done to date, and knowing that there are even better places to go and dive just off our shores made our eagerness just grow and grow. We then got out of the water after completing our first confined dive (which they do in the bay and not a pool as it is near enough exactly the same conditions and so much more fun) and went back inside to talk about the rest of the course and have some lunch that they had cooked (Ceviche of lion fish, which is basically when it is cut up very thinly and cooked in lemon juice, then added to peppers, onions, garlic and tomato and a whole host of other spices, then served on toast. This was also great, and tasted phenomenal!) and also organise when we would next be back. Pol, then gave us the DVD that we had to watch so we could do it at home and hopefully get completed much quicker, we said our goodbyes and headed back up the road. 
At the top of the road, there was a restaurant, which was closed when we arrived, but now open and glowing in the sunshine at the top of a great big hill, with the best view ever, and the dogs (one of which was called Marley) were happily playing here with the people that run it, so we decided to get a drink and a plate of Nachos to share and sit here enjoying the sun, breeze and view after one of the greatest days ever, accompanied by the very playful dogs, which we were stroking and playing with as (well I certainly) missed our own pets and wanted some of that canine company. 
This day was just perfect and ever since we have just been thinking about doing our ‘homework’ and finishing/diving as much as we can so we can explore so much more of the island. I really do urge anyone to get there certification, even if it just on holiday, you have so much fun and only a little bit of theory is required (normally the whole course lasts about 3 - 4 days, depending on how quickly you work) and you have the best time, plus the PADI certificate is recognized all over the world.
I hope you enjoy the pictures below and till next time,
Flowers surrounding Marble Hill Farms

Ally and the hounds


The Mother of Marley!

The amazing view from the restaurant.

Truly relaxed!

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