Time is flying for me but in a good way. Yet another week of dive master training down and I'm set to finish in record time! My last exam was a week ago Friday which made partying the whole weekend a requirement. I headed down to Garage, the only real bar/club here in Taganga, with Ken's wife and danced for a bit before a live band came on stage and proceeded to yell their lyrics at an ear splitting level. Time to head home which was a good thing as I needed to be at the dive shop at the completely uncivilized hour of 6am the next day. Thank heaven for cheap fresh juices here. I swear, watermelon juice is a the only thing that puts me right in the morning.
Why did we have to get up so early? Sunday was the Fiesta del Virgin de Carmen which is a great excuse to decorate their boats and drive them around drunk for most of the afternoon. My dive center was sending a boat and I was invited to join in the festivities. After out morning dives I jumped in and out of the shower and ran back down to the boat and we sped off to catch up. I hadn't been sitting more than a few seconds before my first beer was passed to me by Nene and Nelson, two boat captains from our shop. One of our instructors, Lily was also on the boat and she felt inclined to initiate me in the festival rites by dumping a gallon of water on my head. Don't worry, I got her back! Nene drove like a maniac rocking us from side to side. It was all I could do to keep hold of my beer. Taganga is a tiny place so people on each boat are constantly waving to friends and relatives and trying to splash them with as much water as possible.
We sped off ahead of most of the boats and ran smack into four policemen on a boat who were very interested in our beer. We gave them each one and were on our way back to where all the boats were hanging out. When we got closer we could see that someone's boat had turned over in the water. Lots of guys jumped in to try and turn it back around but it was pretty hopeless. Nelson jumped in to help secure the boat and we towed it back to shore. There was a policeman on the beach asking questions but everyone kept their mouths shut. Enough excitement. We headed back towards Taganga and stopped briefly at a tall sand dune that poured into the beach. We all jumped out of the boat and ran up to the top and then rolled down to the bottom. Great fun but I am still finding small bits of sand attached to me.
Back on the boat we were joined by a young guy and 4 young girls all of whom I found out are related to Nelson. Instead of all of us heading back to Taganga directly, Nene dropped us off at the beach on the next bay where we ate and drank more and more beer. Max kept calling to find out when the boat would be back but for some reason we kept having a terrible connection;) After about an hour we sucked it up and headed back. It was so great while it lasted to see everyone from the shop letting their hair down. A dive master from another shop was introduced to me and started following me around like a puppy. Apparently I'd met him briefly before but he had such a a non-descript face that I don't think I could ever pick him out in a crowd. He's a bit of a geek, OK, well a huge geek. We walked around the beach front where parties were just warming up and I put up with him for as long as I could but in the end I feigned tiredness and headed home.
Monday was a rough day for everyone. I've been really lucky because they are getting close to low season but the shop has been crazy busy for the past few weeks with at least one boat going out every morning and afternoon. Nina, Max's wife and an instructor, now calls me SanyuFish because I went on five dives in one day. Not exactly in line with the PADI Recreational Dive planner but it's what dive professionals have to do all the time. While I haven't had to study at night I've been too exhausted to do anything else because we've spent this week not just diving and also completing our practical exams. The 400m swim almost killed me. Between the diving, swimming and carrying air tanks around, my wetsuit is starting to fall off me. Looks like I should have all my requirements done in just under three weeks. Pretty impressive! And then of course there is the final test to pass: Drinking a bottle of rum through a snorkel. Don't worry mom, I'm planning to fail that one.