Day 117: Dive for Dave

Sat. 8th December 2012

Boats in the harbourAfter two busy days we have a lazy start as we need time to collate our thoughts on what we have seen and also rate all the photos we have taken. There is a lot to catch up on and the painfully slow internet connection at the hotel only makes things harder. We both have a set of things we want to accomplish and whilst our phones are useful, there is only so much they can do so there is always a queue for the laptop. [Editor’s note: there is a Travel Technology blog post coming with more details on what works and what doesn’t work for us.]

Hotel TupaBefore we know it, the morning has gone and we meander into town to stretch our legs and find somewhere to eat our lunch (ham and cheese rolls made up from the breakfast buffet). On our walk, we pass the Dive Shops in town. Dave has been deliberating over a dive whilst we are here and so with a bit of prodding goes in to investigate. We discover they do not dive on Sundays so it is 14:30 this afternoon or not at all. As our motto is JFWDI he signs on the dotted line.

Great lunch spotHaving signed up we find a lovely spot to eat our sandwiches enjoying the sunshine and watching the locals using the open air gym equipment on the sea front. I decide against using the exercise equipment and head off souvenir shopping (window shopping only as we cannot carry anything more in our backpacks). The Artisan Market is shut so I detour into the church, which is all decked out presumably for a wedding.

While JanetHanga Roa church goes off shopping I go off for my dive courtesy of the Orca Diving Center (sic). There are only 3 of us plus the dive master so we get some really personalised set up. This will only be my 13th dive, so I am still very much a novice and as a consequence I tend to get through my air more quickly than experienced divers do. As there is a reasonable distance to cover in the dive, I get a 50l air tank (I think the normal ones are 30l?). The dive plan is that we will get to see the coral reef, a (fake) underwater moai, and some (genuine) old ship’s anchors.

Dive shopWhat’s missing from this barebones plan is that the water is the clearest that I have ever swum in, let alone dived in. As soon as we went over the side of the dive boat and looked down to see the seabed some 2om or more below, I knew this was going to be special. Once on the bottom – it takes me a little while to descend as I have trouble equalising the pressure in my ears – then the dive was a joy. The sun was shining down through the water and some Jack Fish decided to come and accompany us as we swam along the coral. The coral formations were large and intricately shaped. It was fun to come across a moai and to be able to touch it (strictly not permitted with the real ones).

Great place for DinnerI had been told that there wouldn’t be many fish and compared to the Maldives that is true, but the fish we did see were colourful and varied. The highlights being the bright yellow, tubular shaped Trumpet Fish and a Puffer Fish. Even with the 50l tank, I was the first to start running low on air and so I had to use Christian’s (the dive master’s) reserve feed for a while as we swam to the anchor of the waiting boat. We were underwater for a little over 45 minutes and the time just flew by. A real joy and after my dive at Ihla Grande it was great to be able to see so far. I think I need to find a spot to do my Advanced Diver qualification!

Yummy PaellaThis evening we decide to try another restaurant recommendation, this time a French one where we sat out on the veranda with views over the harbour. We opt for the paella for two which takes a while to cook, but we thought we had plenty of time before we need to head off to Tahai a popular spot to watch the sunset, and so are happy to chill and enjoy the view drinking enormous fruit juices. The paella is worth waiting for as it arrives on an enormous dish with a whole cooked fish and baby lobster on the top and is very tasty.

Time flies by and the sun begins to set, so we have to rush off to Tahai, to watch the sunset where there are many people already waiting. The light from the sun bounces off the clouds, so the effect is continuously changing. We sit with three girls, British, Brazilian and American who we recognise from diving discussions in our hotel and chat merrily as the sun goes down. We have come across far more females travelling alone than males and later muse why this might be.

First atempt at sunset photoWe all wander back together discussing places to visit and places we have each been. As we pass a restaurant we stop and watch one of the local shows is progress. The Island, like all Polynesia is famed for the local dances and we catch a glimpse through the open frontage of the restaurant to see girls in grass skirts and men wearing even less. One of the girls had been to the show the previous evening with a group of 80 year olds (exaggeration?) who had insisted on paying extra for front row seats!

Sadly no time to rest when we return to the hotel as we are anxious to make progress with our plans for Tahiti as we only have the first night booked and have not yet decided on which Islands to visit. To Bora Bora or not to Bora Bora that is the question.

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