On December 15th, I dropped 60 feet into the depths of “The Crater” in Midway, Utah, enjoying the hot tub-esque water despite the snow storm outside.
When I came up, I was officially open water scuba dive certified and ready to fly to Puerto Rico in 32 hours and go on a real dive.
(The fellows at The Dive Shop in Bountiful made it possible – Thank you Bob, Mac, and Floyd for working with my tight schedule!)
After settling in to my quaint B&B in Luquillo on the east coast on Thursday, I took a meandering drive across the north coast on Friday, stopping for a long exploration of Old San Juan and some local lunch (Mofongo!), pulling into Rincon on the west coast by 4 PM.
I checked in with my airbnb host, took note of all the chickens, read a book on the beach, enjoyed conch fritters for dinner, and then tried to get some sleep despite the roosters.
I pulled into the parking lot in front of the Taino Divers shop by 7 AM with Frappaccino in hand (sleep was elusive) and got outfitted with my gear. The sunrise on the beach while we waited for the boat was a good omen for the day ahead.
It took 45 minutes to cross over to Desecheo Island – an island off limits to humans after being used as a bombing target by the US Military, a monkey experiment by some crazy researchers, and a rat habitat after the entire ecosystem went to pot. Romantic.
The first dive solidified scuba as a new hobby, albeit an expensive one.
45 minutes flew by (as did my tank of air) while I swam with a totally chill sea turtle, watched it interact with a huge stingray, and observed the super creepy giant lobsters tucked away in the “crab shack”.
I was a little out of sorts after no sleep, the choppy ride over to the island, and then the disorienting feeling of being underwater for that long, so I took it easy on the second dive. The sheer variety of fish was overwhelming and I swear they were glowing.
Our dive master speared a lion fish like a badass (not native and taking over the habitat) and then I came up a few minutes early to puke that Frappaccino up off the back of the boat (huzzah!). I blame the roosters.
Felt much better after that and was elated to have the entire sense of sea sickness disappear the second I was back on dry land, so I celebrated with a huge french dip sammy sitting front and center at the bar at The Shipwreck. Solo travel is kind of incredible.