Mexico 2009 Day 8 – Scuba Diving Zihuatanejo and The Tides Resort

IMG_0415 It’s Thursday!  Our last full day in this great town.  Maybe it’s more like a city as we were informed about 100,000 people live here.  It sure doesn’t seem that big.

I woke up extra, super early (8:15am) to go scuba diving.  I’m new to scuba, having just completed my training dives back in January.  This was my first chance to dive when there was no snow on the ground.  After taking a sleepy Sabrina over to The Cronin’s place, I caught a cab to the main pier in town.  The ONLY pier in town.

Showing up early, I had the chance to wander a bit as the city awoke.  The sun had been up for maybe an hour by this time but it seems nothing gets started too early.  There were shop owners setting up tables of pastries and families sitting down to eat.  With a large breakfast spread and soldiers decked out in dress whites, the small Navy station next door to the harbor master’s office was a hub activity.  Further down the pier locals lazed about, sometimes helping fishing boats onto the shore or others as they prepared to go sport fishing out on the open sea.  I was the only gringo in sight and felt perfectly unobtrusive to the normal commotion of beach life at this time of day, long before the tourists start meandering the waterfront.  It’s a slice of life I’d love to come back and document because it was so authentic and simple.  Honest.

IMG_0382 Thierry from Carlo Scuba showed a bit before nine and I hopped into his dive boat.  The grandson of the Carlo in Carlo Scuba, the gentleman who started the dive operation in the 1960s, Thierry had an easy confidence and timeless tan, weathered skin from spending his life on the waves.  He took time to explain to me where we were going that day and that his biggest interest was my enjoyment of the dives, with the second dive being optional if either of us didn’t feel comfortable with things.  I was his only fare for the day and I gotta admit it was nice having the personal attention.  Back at his shop at Las Gatas beach I filled out paperwork while he suited me up with all the gear I’d need.  My friend Paul had mentioned, when I asked him for advice on travel diving, to check over the gear and to not go with any shop that has sub-par equipment.   IMG_0311 I was relieved to see everything, except the mask, was in great condition and fairly new.  And my training with Dave from Dive Canuck gave me the knowledge I needed to inspect the gear myself to make sure I would be safe.  Thanks to you both!!

The first dive site was Solitary Rock, a small rock jutting 30 feet out of the sea about a mile offshore on top of which sits an automated light and horn.  I couldn’t help but look up and think it’d be a cool rock to climb, while Thierry explain how we’d dive around 50′ IMG_0387 under water and circle the rock.  I have this odd juxtaposition with diving, in that I tend to get seasick easily when on small boats on big waves, such as now.  Once in and under the water, all is fine.  It’s just the boats.  But it wasn’t bugging me too bad as I kept my eyes on the horizon most of the time.

The water was awesome!  So warm and visibility to about 50′.  And so unlike the Puget Sound where I trained. Don’t get me wrong, the Puget Sound in Washington has an amazing amount of sea life wherever you look.  But there is something to be said for good visibility and brightly colored fish.  IMG_0352 Thierry had mentioned the wave surge and to just go with it as it at times pushed me towards the rocks and then away.  Underwater those surges aren’t as violent as the wave crashing on the surface but it can be disconcerting as I kick for all my might to go forward and only make a few inches.  After a while I remembered Thierry’s words and those of a story I once heard that goes something like:

“Two monks are sitting by a lake with a giant waterfall at one end.  They notice an old man jump from the top of the waterfall and then stay submerged for some time.  Fearing he was drowned the monks IMG_0314 were quite concerned and were just about to enter the water to look for him when he bobbed up and swam to shore.  Amazed, one of the monks asked the old man how he avoided drowning against such a pounding of water, to which the old man answered ‘When the water goes down, I go down.  When the water goes up, I go up.'”

I’ve always liked that story, even if I just butchered it from the original.  It’s a good reminder to not always fight against the way things are.  Like when you’re underwater and the forces at work are so much larger than you could hope to struggle against.  Once I took this stand point, it was a lot more enjoyable.

Thierry pointed out a lot of eels and fish hiding in cracks and other places my novice eyes failed to notice.   I knew he had done this hundreds of times but he was a good sport showing a newbie around his neighborhood.  He also took the time to grab any garbage we came across, leaving the sea a bit cleaner for the privilege to pay a visit for a little while.  IMG_0342 After Solitary Rock we went towards shore to a cove called, uhhh….The Cove.  This area got pretty hammered by Tropical Storm Andres and a lot of the coral had been broken off.  While not spectacular, I still enjoyed it a lot and got to see a variety of fish not spotted further out at the rock.  All in all, a wonderful diving experience.  And the beer back on the beach in front of Thierry’s shop while he put away gear was the icing on the cake.

Back on land I met up with The Cronin’s and Sabrina who were just heading to The Tides, a nicer beach resort Dan and Amy stayed at during their honeymoon three years ago.  IMG_0408 For a fee we could use the resort for the day, including people bringing us food and drinks to lounge seats on the beach.  It also had six pools, one of which Sabrina could stand up in bringing a huge smile to her face.  Her swimming abilities are improving but she’s not quite there, and this pool was a lot of fun for her.  I also took the chance to get a massage which did me quite well.

After a great sunset for our last night in town, Lucia offered to watch the other kids so Dan, Amy and I could head out for an adult’s night out.  IMG_0423 We were the only table seated in the restaurant and the bar.  This town is fairly empty from a tourist’s standpoint but that offers some chances to move about without huge crowds, which is nice.

Again, the night ended at some point.

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