After frantically hunting down our PADI certification numbers (this is no easy feat on the website), we met up with Chip and a few other divers to explore the waters surrounding Ambergris. I forget the names of the sites, but both were around the North end of the island. I was feeling a little nervous, as it was my first ocean dive, but thought I’d be okay. However, on the first dive, I couldn’t get my left ear to equalize (this ear gives me trouble in an 8ft swimming pool) and I just got a little overwhelmed with the newness of everything and self-conscious about making everyone else wait, so I decided to sit that one out. The guys on the boat were pretty nice about it and let me fish with them instead. I’d never been fishing before and was surprised by how much fun it was. I caught a yellow snapper and a trigger fish right away, and then spent the rest of the time learning that fishing is quite intricate and technical. I suspect that I might have the patience for it, though, and made a mental note to try fishing in Montana.
We had some coconut and pineapple during the surface interval and then went back out again. This time I made it down (although, still got to the bottom way after everyone else). We spent about 45 minutes exploring the reef at an average depth of 45 ft and saw an eagle ray, various coral species and other reef fish that I couldn’t identify (except for the snapper and trigger fish, which I’d gotten a pretty good look at on the boat). My certification instructor said that he liked to swim around and explore, but that his wife liked to hang out in one place and hover. Even though I was pretty cold by the end of the dive, I understood why someone would want to stay in one spot and watch. There’s so much going on underwater and so much to see that it was difficult to appreciate and process all while concentrating on the technical aspects of diving. I know that it will become easier as I become a better diver, but I can still imagine that, with my personality and disposition, I might enjoy picking a spot and enjoying the view.
We surfaced and then headed back to the island. After getting cleaned up and grabbing lunch, we took a nap before heading out again. We had dinner at a restuarant in town called simply, “The Reef,” and we both decided that it was hands-down the best meal for the best price we’d had all trip.