Monday, March 25, 2013

Little Corn Island 3 - SCUBA

The island won us over immediately but we came here with a goal beyond relaxation and exploration, SCUBA diving. For the past 2ish years we talked about getting SCUBA certified. We considered starting the course in a pool, I talked to a friend who started in a pool and never finished, it discouraged me. We considered doing it while on vacation a few times but it always seemed like it would take over the vacation. So this time, we made it the point of our vacation. We signed up at Dive Little Corn when we booked our lodge and even got a small discount for extra motivation. Our plan was arrive and start the course the following day. This is what really happened.

A week before the trip, I got a sinus infection and cough. The cough lingered, I postponed our diving to the second half of our trip. Checked in at the dive shop and picked up our books so we could get some of the classroom work out of the way and avoid sitting in a classroom. We packed our books and grabbed a new friend and hiked across the island for a day of reading on the north beach.

I am sure my dissertation would have been way less stressful if I worked on it here.

Taking a study break to enjoy the view. 

We swam, read, did most of our chapters and then got on with our day. 

We were having fun waiting for our course and calculating how many dives we could fit in before flying home. It was nice to start our vacation without a schedule. We showed up for our first day in the dive shop to watch videos. Sadly, there was no way to do it outside so we plopped down in some plastic charis by the fan and watched the material. We learned that the PADI organization  has an odd, extremely cheesy sense of humor. We also learned that divers have more fun than regular people. After days of videos and exams it was time to get in the water for confined dives. Now this is the part that you do in a pool or still water. Unfortunately the water was not being still, even close to shore where they typically have pool like conditions. Soon, we were out of the water without having checked off any of our confines. We left for the day.

It was hard to get turned away but we could see the wind was not dying down. We hoped for better conditions the following day.

The wind kept up, dives were canceled for 2 days. Not just ours, both dive shops on the island were stuck on land. We kept ourselves occupied. 

We found the harse.

We enjoyed the waves even though they were the enemy.

Then Sunday came and we realized our return flight was looming. We looked at the situation logically and discussed options. There was a real chance we would not make it to certification if we couldn't get back in the water soon. We took the theoretical exam then sat outside the dive shop and watched the Cargo ship unload while waiting for the results. We both passed. Then it became time to face the fact that we may need to finish our dives elsewhere. I did not like that plan at all. I wanted ocean dives, spent time preparing myself for ocean dives and did not want to return to my land locked home without seeing a clawless Caribbean lobster in its natural habitat. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

History and Life

In preparing for a visit to the beaches of Normandy, I headed to NY Times Travel for recommendations. I found an article from 2000, "A Place of Death, A Place of Play." I read each sentence closely with the mind of a person about to engulf upon a similar trip. I thought about my grandmother and her sisters and her brothers that fought in WWII. I thought about what I wanted to get out of this trip, I thought about my first visit to an American military cemetary in Europe. I drifted off into my thoughts and got slightly annoyed at the author's continuous mention of telling her children to be respectful. Then I reached the end. I read the last line,

"But if he could see my sons, free, and unburdened, and ignorant of war, I hope he would say that their very innocence was what the fight was for."

As I finished the article my thoughts shifted from past wars to present day. In November of 2000, I too was a child of sorts having turned 18 a few months prior. With the exception of Desert Storm, I did did not know war at that time. Now, I feel like so much has changed. I know I have grown and experienced the world but I mean the innocence. For practically all of my adult life there has been a war. America has been at war. I know people who are my age who have fought in wars. It's not just something to learn about in books, museums and movies. War is real right now. Does this mean there is no innocence for children? At first it seemed like no war could be as all encompassing as WWII, and maybe that is true but there is a impact on the homefront from any war. The propaganda may have changed but it's there. Most visable in the budget, in injured young men and women trying to live a civilian life after fighting in a foreign land, young widows and widowers, and children with the word deployment in their vocabulary. I never wanted to be able to say I lived during wartime but don't see an end in sight. Oddly, this article has made me very understanding of the Swiss stance on foreign wars.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Little Corn Island 2

Once we realized how awesome the view and breeze were from our casita, the lodge and the adjoining beach, we made a mutual, subconscious decision not to venture to the other side of the island for 3 days. It was a great idea and made us ever so grateful to have 2 full weeks in paradise to relax and explore at our leisure.  This is a photo heavy series so I won't try and post them any bigger for fear my posts will never load. Feel free to click on any photo to enlarge it (Auntie Shirley, that means left click).

I swam in the Caribbean Sea,

drank water from a freshly cut coconut,

read in my hammock,

experimented with macro photos,

went exploring,

followed signs to hidden beaches,

and enjoyed my new found beach all to myself....

I collected sea shells, a rare find on this island.

We met new people at the family style dinner served in the lodge and finally were lured out of our hammocks to cross over to the other side on the promise of an evening pub quiz.

We came in second place and won that bottle of rum.

The next day, we were back to our local beaches. I could not tire of the colors in the sky and in the sea. The rocks in the sand and even the driftwood. 

If there was a way this could have come home with me, I would have a great coffee table.

Even dead brain coral is pretty.

Finally, we decided to venture across the island again to catch a sunset.

The sunset was somehow nonexistent.

We enjoyed a rum punch at happy hour and then headed to what quickly became our favorite restaurant on the island, Little Habana. Where I had my first Caribbean lobster (they don't have claws).

 Despite high expectations, LCI did not leave me wanting for beaches, sunshine or delicious food.