Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 47 - Singin' In The Rain

I woke up at 7 am to go scuba diving. On the way to the dive shop I grabbed a good beach breakfast of juice and a dedito but was delighted to be served fresh coffee at Poseidon’s. The dive instructor I was going out with, Carmen, was basically just passing through on a South American tour. She hadn’t been in Taganga very long and was almost ready to move on. My dive buddy was a Dive Master from the States who was traveling around as well, but had already been on 10 dives with Poseidon. Good people to dive with, for sure. There were a few other fun divers in a different group and one guy doing his very first dive out of the pool. The first dive was nice with loads of colourful fish and gorgeous coral. Nothing big or exciting, just pretty stuff and that awesome peacefulness of submersion that I crave. The second dive was along a spectacular island reef, with a pretty strong current taking us exactly where we wanted to go. This meant we were able to stay below for almost 75 minutes. We saw tons of eels, an octopus, puffer fish, 3 scorpionfish and more large coloured beauties. There were so many Cow Fish and Lion Fish.

After hearing the scoop about everyone hunting Lion Fish in Panama I inquired about the Lion Fish hunt in Colombia to find out that a similar story exists here. Actually, everywhere in the Caribbean people are hunting Lion Fish like mad, trying desperately to keep their numbers under control. Turns out that the 'story' in these parts is that entire thing was started by an unfortunate accident somewhere in Florida where a commercial aquarium lost a ‘shipment’ of Lion Fish into the Caribbean ocean. Just this one tank of critters has propagated itself into blooming population, because of their lack of natural predators and love for the wonderful, warm waters of the area.  Trouble is they eat many hatchling fish and are becoming a potential threat to other species livelihood. So all around the Caribbean people are culling back the populations whenever possible, hopefully there’s some good eating from those flashy little spiny guys!

So I did some digging and found out a bit more,

"It was once thought that Lion Fish were brought to the Caribbean in the ballast of cargo ships, but studies have shown this to be erroneous. Genetic evidence of a strong founder effect indicates that most lionfish in Caribbean waters came from just eight fish (one male and seven females) that were accidentally released in Biscayne Bay, Florida when an private aquarium broke during Hurricane Andrew in 1992." Link

" It has been speculated that this introduction may well have been caused when Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in southern Florida. However, a more recent report states NOAA ecologist James Morris Jr. has discovered that a lionfish was caught off Dania, FL prior to Hurricane Andrew, as long ago as 1985." Link

After a huge lunch at Casa De Holanda, we walked around and checked in with a another Cuidad Perdida Tour agency. This time we discovered Sierra Tours and they seemed like a good choice. We’d think about it. On an interesting note: we'd emailed these guys and gotten a high quote and request for a deposit into a German bank account, which turned us off of them completely. Showing up in person and discussing options with them landed us a price that was much cheaper!

Later in the day, after an afternoon nap, we were ready to venture out for dinner and book our trekking trip but became slightly deterred by a serious downpour. Then Ulrich suggested we get out and soak it up. What a perfect way to cool down and lighten up a little. All the decision making in tandem was not easy for us all the time, creating stress and disagreement. Funny, when when all we really wanted was for each other to be perfectly happy; how easily the outcome of each other’s actions produces the exact opposite of its desired effect! And really, we’d been taking ourselves just a bit too seriously, so we headed out into the driving rain which had already accumulated into red muddy rivers along the narrow roads of Taganga.

This made me think of not a song that I love, but a video clip I love where David Elsewhere re-enacts Gene Kelly's famous Singing' In The Rain scene with a modern twist.

At Sierra Tours we met the group who was coming down from the Trek as we signed up for the next day’s departure. We signed up for a 5-day trip, 3 days up and 2 days down, with a total of 6 people. The trekkers coming down were young University students from London and they’d had a slightly dramatic experience of leaving one of their group members at the top with an ankle problem. She had stayed at the Lost City with their other traveling companion, a Colombian/British girl and couldn’t make it down on foot. She wanted a helicopter retrieval and the boys had left on schedule to bring this news to the tour company. Ulrich helped to translate through the young man’s anxiety-strained communications with the tour operators. It was made obvious that the injured girl was overweight (in Spanish she was described by the tour receptionist as muy gorda = very fat) and it was clear that the tour company did not like any connections or feelings of responsibility being put on them by the young men. This was slightly tense, mixed with the ignorance of the young men (in terms of understanding the military dynamics of the area and the logistics of getting a helicopter into the site) who were, of course, very concerned for the wellbeing and evacuation of their friends.

Later that evening we ate pizza at a local pizza delivery shop which had plastic chairs on the roadside, almost in the gutter, under drizzling skies and amidst a busy street corner. Ulrich bought a cheap box of wine and the pizzeria gave us small plastic glasses. Our two British buddies passed by and we invited them to join us and fill is in on the situation with their friend, the rescue mission and the tour agency. I was also delighted to hear more perspectives on the trek itself and these boys painted it as an experience of a life time. I had my fingers crossed, against my nagging worry, that somehow it would be fulfilling for Ulrich. Things were looking better the more I heard.

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