Neutrally Buoyant (Day two)
Before I knew how to talk and before I knew how to walk, my mom took me to the local YMCA and taught me how to swim. I donít know why she did this. She didnít do it for my older or younger sisters. Perhaps she recognized in her tiny daughter a certain restlessness, an alienation between the world and her helpless baby.
Somehow I remember this experience. I donít know how I could remember a situation when I didnít even have the words at the time to describe it. But I remember the hot stuffy air of the indoor pool. I remember everything was so blue and peaceful that I think I stopped crying. But what I remember most, is the first plunge into the water. As soon as my chubby legs touched the water, they started kicking. My arms beat the enchanting liquid and I was free.
As I grew, I spent my summers at the public pool. Always, I headed to the deep end. Always, I swam down, down to the metal drain. My ears ached for I didnít know then about equalizing; the pain was simply accepted. I remained at the bottom enjoying the sweet touch of the water over my body. The stillness and the silence calmed me. Only when it felt like a wrench was squeezing my lungs together, would I slowly rise to the surface.
Water has always been my true home. I can relate to the whale when she crawled back into the sea. With each dive, I ask the ocean to take me back as well. And for thirty to seventy minutes, she does.
Thus today I was very happy to be making my sixteenth dive with Bottom Time dive shop. The dive monster was Eddie and Captain Chocolate was at the helm. By the way, this was the best dive boat Iíve ever been on. Lots of shade and even a little cabin in the bow of the boat. There were three other goofy divers from Nebraska: Joe, Tom and Mike.
Cypress Canyons 1 hour 6 minutes, 67 feet
As I slowly melted into the sea, I immediately noticed a nurse shark. As if they were long lost friends, Eddie gave him some food and a big hug. The shark rolled over like a pussycat and Eddie scratched his white underside. I timidly swan near and petted the shark. This magnificent animal has purple, gray and white bumps that feel like the traction that cover the feet of those adorable pajamas that toddlers wear.
We said good-bye to the shark and swam through a swaying gorgonian forest. Yellow tail snappers curiously looked at me with one eye then quickly scurried away. Then Eddie found a gargantuan Jewfish. Even though this fish was nearly as long as I am tall, he was almost hard to see because he was so well camouflaged! When the group swam into a swim through, I followed their bubbles over the reef. (I love being alone on the reef.) I yelled out to any mermen that might be swimming about, "Here I am. Come and get me." But no one heard.
To end our tour, Eddie showed us an enormous pillar coral. Pillar corals look like melted wax that has been turned upside down. It is also covered with thousands of tiny tentacles. A baby squirrelfish, afraid I might want to eat him but curious at the same time, darted in and out among the coral "drips". A beautiful end to a beautiful dive.
The End of Day Two
I spent the afternoon wondering around San Pedro. I think perhaps there are more "Beware of Dog" signs than there are actual dogs. Sometime before sunset, I was strolling along the beach when I sniffed a whiff of fresh baked cinnamon roll. So I followed my nose to Celiís Deli. As it turned out, Iíd eat many times at Celiís. It was close to Rubyís, cheap and tasty. (They put cabbage instead of lettuce on the burritos. I thought this was a grand idea, because lettuce usually just gets soggy when put on hot foods. And besides, cabbage is so yummy; Iím always looking for new ways to eat it.) Anyway, I purchased a cinnamon roll, roast beef sandwich, coke light and walked to the end of one of the many wooden piers to eat my dinner. In the sea grass below the pier I saw a harvest moon sized stingray, a green eel, a conch, a flamboyantly spotted eagle ray and a baby shark. Just in time, I remembered to turn around to catch the sunset. A lovely dinner.
Back at Rubyís, the rhythms of a dreamy song drifted through my open window. "Welcome to San Pedro. And now you are here. It was just yesterday you were so far away. But now youíre here. Forget your worries and throw away your grief. Iím so glad that you have come. Welcome to San Pedro." (Wil Nunez and Dale Wallace Sr.)
According to the newspaper that Carlo had given me, there was to be a big PUP (People United Party) rally in Central Park tonight so I made my way over there. I watched the dancers, but it was so cold that I went to Fidoís.
Fidoís is right on the beach, has a high thatched roof and really high wooden steps leading to the entrance. Naturally, I stumbled while walking up these steps. Great, another bruise.
Category Seven was playing more American music, but it was all good dance tunes. Like I said before, in San Pedro, before you finish with one drink, thereís another in front of you. Needless to say everyone was having a swell time. Joe, Tom and Mike (from the dive boat) were there. These guys were such big dorks that we got alone swimmingly. We danced, drank and played dice until the place closed down and we were kindly kicked out.
I had never played this game before, but it was great fun:
You need six dice to play. The object is to get the lowest score. Threes count as zero points. After you roll the dice, you can set aside as many threes as youíve rolled. If no threes, take away only one of the lowest dice and roll again. Repeat. In case of a tie, everyone throws in more money and play again for a bigger pot.