Random Happenings

Random notes and pics about events in the life of a not-your-typical Computer Science grad student. (Yes I am a nerd, but I don't live and breathe the SciFi channel, well maybe Stargate SG-1...)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Into the abyss

Our second day of diving in Belize, we signed up to dive the famous "Blue Hole." The Blue Hole is a perfectly round limestone sinkhole that is 1,000 ft across and 400 ft deep! For divers, it is basically a huge bottomless pit. (The deepest a diver like me and Nathan are allowed to go is 130 ft.) We had never been on a dive anywhere near that deep before, but we were told that if you go to Belize, you just have to dive it. So we thought, "why not?"

The alarm woke us up at a leisurely 4:30am in the morning. I'm not sure why, but it wasn't until that moment that we started to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into. We strolled out to the dock from our hotel with our dive gear slung across our shoulders and waited for the dive shop to pick us up and take us to our breakfast feast of bananas, sweet bread, Velveeta cheese (quite a delicacy), and coffee. The early rise was worth it though, the sunrise was absolutely gorgeous!

We finally arrived to the Blue Hole, which I've lovingly nicknamed "the abyss", after a 3 hour boat ride. Nathan and I were one of the lucky ones that didn't have to feed the fish all morning. I think they had a little too much Velveeta.

Our dive master, Carlos, begins our dive briefing with a question, "How deep have you all been?" Of course all the macho guys start shouting "95ft!" "110 ft!" Nathan and I exchange sly glances and subconsciously start slouching down and avoiding eye contact with Carlos. We felt like kids again sitting at the back of the class hoping against all hope that the teacher wouldn't call on us. I thought, "How deep did we dive yesterday? 65ft? That's how deep I've been..."

Despite our inexperience, we were actually some of the calmer ones on the dive boat. There were about 30 of us all together. After the briefing, we all strap ourselves into our gear and to a last minute buddy check (i.e., make sure all your buddy's equipment is working and the tank is turned on). If you have never seen it before, I must say it is quite comical to watch everyone waddle to the back of the rocking boat with heavy equipment on and huge flippers to jump in. That was worth the trip right there.

After everyone is in and we all signal to each other "ok", we slowly begin our descent into the great abyss. I have to admit, it is a little unsettling at first to look down in the water and see nothing but blue down below you --- especially when you know that the visibility is 100ft+. It was fun though and felt like you were just floating down, down, down.


As we descend further, the water gets noticeably colder and darker. We finally reach our maximum dive depth and get to swim through these amazing stalactites. We were at 133ft feet, officially the deepest I've ever been. No worries though, no one had nitrogen narcosis and started talking to the fish.

After just a couple of minutes (you can't stay long at that depth), we started our ascent. It was a bit like playing "follow the leader".
Just when we thought the adventure was almost over, we spot this huge reef shark swimming toward us. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it was big. It looked like the sharks you see in "Jaws." It had to be at least 10-12ft long. I was definitely glad it was content to keep its distance. I certainly was content to keep mine. At our safety stop, we spend most of our time watching the school of reef sharks below us get larger and larger as more sharks appear from the depths. It was amazing to see so many swimming together like that. All in all, it was a great adventure and I'm glad we were brave enough to do it.

1 Comments:

Anonymous sara said...

Wow, Shawna! The pictures are amazing!

7:00 AM  

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