Monday, June 12, 2006

Sea dogs and puppies

Bet you were wondering what I've been up to. No, I haven't been carried away by bats. My attention has turned to the sea. I earned my scuba diving certificate last week. Robert, Beau, and I took the course which included four open water dives. That I was able to complete the course is remarkable to me since I don't like water all that much and especially not the creepy way people look underwater. But the combination of a gentle instructor and a little family rivalry kept me in the game. That, and the opportunity I'd miss if I bailed. I'm living on the Sea of Cortez, an ocean teeming with marine life, a body of water made famous by John Steinbeck, Jacques Cousteau. How could I miss taking a closer look?

On our way to our first dive at sea we encountered a school of dolphins that began to chase us. Dozens of them surrounded the panga boat, speedily darting through the water like missiles. A few would take the lead swimming directly in front of the boat. They were magnificent. And so immediately likeable. They reminded me of big, playful dogs. Sea dogs. Fetch!

Immediately after they departed we came across a pod of pilot whales and rode with them for awhile. Though not playful like the dolphins, the pilot whales were curious, some coming right up to the boat for a look. We were all so astonished and overcome with marvel. Every one of us shrieked with glee every time a whale emerged to blow. You could hear them breathe!

That was just the first day, Before even getting in the water! I might have been content to stay on top of the water--there was certainly enough wonder there, but we were headed to a protected cove near Puerto Escondido to do what we set out to do: dive. If I quit then I would have missed the experience of seeing what amounts to a parallel universe. There is a whole other world in the sea.

I'll spare you all the enthusiastic enumerations of my first adventure as a neophyte diver, but this one: I held a puffer fish in my hands. He was as cute as a prickly puppy. His forward-placed eyes focused on me in intense concentration as he frantically gulped up water to get bigger and badder. He only got cuter and puffier. I had an overwhelming desire to possess him, to take him home in my BCD pocket as my pet. When I finally let him go his little ballooned body hastened off with inadequate propulsion from two little fins and a tailfin wagging like a docked puppy tail.

Puppies of the sea. I'm hooked.

No comments: