right now it's raining to beat the band - visiblity is about 1/2 mile out the porch instead of the usual several miles across the ocean viewed from the porch.
hope you and Target and the girls are all ok.
I'm thru diving - eustachion tubes are shut tighter than a vault. can't hear well and ears hurt. probably go to island clinic tomorrow to make sure it isn't an infection and to get myself meds to be able to get on an airplane if I need to. antihisimines don't seem to do anything.
maybe I'll get lucky and clear up enough to do a night dive on Thursday - have my fingers crossed. taking test tomorrow for nitrox diving - enriched oxygen gas. doesn't stop narcosis or allow deeper diving as I thought - just increased bottom time above about 60'. has its own list of dangers and hazards - spent all day reading on it. it has rained like a monsoon all day long today. very nice to be alone in house.
whilst they were all gone today - I did the laundry with their explicit permission and great detail on how to wash and dry all various items of dirty laundry. however, it was all interrupted by the fact that the washer/dryer combo machine instantly malfunctioned and became an electrical hazard with water and electrical cables contacting one another on the floor by a hole where all the overflow water incorrectly drained down to the fuse box in the locked up basement now all their laundry is outside hanging on the line in the monsoon and they don't have dry or clean towels or clothes. fortunately there are five bottles of rum in the house and lots of ice.
BUT! onto something you can actually publish in your wonderful and Lonely Planet sanctioned blog - I'm so proud of you.
This is absolutely a world class dive area. For those who dive in the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Florida, there is one publication many divers have which is titled: " Guide to Corals and Fishes of Florida, The Bahamas and the Caribbean" by Idaz and Jerry Greenberg. Of note in this particular dive area is that on the three days that I was able to dive - twice each day by the way - I saw virtually every flora or fauna in that publication and more. Much more. It is a veritble garden of coral down there and it is sparkling with every kind of fish, eel, and turtle species you could ever want to see.
Unfortunately, I missed two absolutely lovely dives here today. The first was a deep dive down to 100' on something called "the Cliffs". Four of the seven divers in my group took their cameras today and snapped still shots and videos complete with sound (mostly sounds like Darth Vador breathing through the regulator though). Here are some of the descriptions they provided of that dive:
In addition to sea turtles, they saw squirell fish (the favorite food of the barracudas), jaw fish, soldier fish, jelly fish (that personally would not be my favorite species to see), garden eels (I didn't know there was a garden variety of eels but the video was anything but boring).
On the second dive to a spot called "Double Rack", among the usual fantastic coral and fish bonanza they also saw an eagle ray with a 45" wide span - I doubt they carefully measured it but I'll take their word for it. Beautiful photos were provided of that creature.
On my last dive yesterday, I saw two 4 foot barracudas chasing each other around the wreck of the Charlie Brown and having a little sport at the expense of a couple of divers who thought they were going to be dive bombed by the frightening looking creatures.
Wrecks and reefs are plentiful here. Many of them were found by Renda and Rudy, the owners of Dive Statia. These two have spent their career diving here and running this shop. Rudy noted that they have found many of the dive spots here and named them. Rudy purchased the Charlie Brown ship from a cable laying firm for the price of one single American dollar, which included transportation to the site and sinking of it. It has been in place as an artifical reef since 2003. This is where the capricious barracuda reside, along with hog fish, black coral and hundreds of fish of various kinds swirling in schools around and above the wreck.
The two very cute Labradoodle dogs in the photos I have on Picassa are Rudy and Renda's dogs. The male is the blond and the female is the gray dog. The male's name is Reef - but I can't remember the female's name. They require a lot of attention and want tennis balls thrown into the surf for them to retrieve. They're also very good at digging in the sand, rolling in the surf and jumping all over the divers with their wet sandy fur in close contact. Very sweet and large dogs.
The photos of the bar are in a very beautiful Hemingway style restored brick hotel called The Gin House - which has rooms for about $250/night. Generally not where the average tourist stays, but it is nice for a honeymoon couple.
In fact, two of this dive group did celebrate their honeymoon there eight years ago. In a moment of madness, a local free range bovine creature - one would assume bull rather than cow - chased the bride around the hotel up two flights of steps, across the breezeway and down another flight of steps before she could escape into the lobby where her husband and the concierge were laughing. I'm sure a door was closed at that point.
All the residences around here have the cattle guards on the ground at the entrance to their property - either that or locked gates. Any residence that is not fenced has free range animals of every farm species imaginable roaming on their property at any given time. I took photos and videos of donkeys and a herd of not so gentle cows last night. If I can get them to upload to Picasa, I will do so in a little while here.
One quickly figures out that the chicken on the dinner plates in the restaurants here are always free range chickens. Anything else would have to be imported. Eggs maybe not. but the yolks are very deeply colored.
The local house of ill repute - yes they have one on this island of 3000 residents - is called "The Nest". I have requested to be taken there (just within a few hundred feet ) for a photo shoot - everyone was happy to oblige - being curious themselves but not brazen enough to make the request themselves - I have no shame. possibly you won't be able to publish such a torrid vendor in your blog - perhaps it's not prime time ready for Lonely Planet.
Well - it's easy to mellow out here - not one single traffic light on the island and the stop signs are treated as guidelines rather rules - or rather a guidepost in a game of chicken dodge. zoning precludes houses being built on the tops of hills. and so far, very few streets actually could pass for 2 lanes in the USA although everyone squeezes by on them.
The utility company came out about 500 PM yesterday and fixed their equipment - so we have full electrical power now, but noone in the house really trusts that the washer/dryer combo is safe, that the dishwasher can actually be run without blowing fuses, and we turn off lights whenever all the a/c units are on.
The ground is covered with acacia thorns that have fallen down and aren't visible. But they penetrate the Croc shoes - of course - and probably would penetrate tennis shoes. One of our party got a nasty one through his Crocs into the pad of his foot a couple of days ago - hurt like the devil.
Well - the rest of the group is beach combing looking for blue beads (the rain must be pouring down on them) - the form of currency the Dutch used in the 15th century on this island - maybe for longer - I don't know. same currency they used to buy the island of Manhattan from the American Indians. Our group found a few of them on a dive they call the "blue bead hole" - they are beautiful items. the locals find them on the beach and make necklaces out of them. also dutch pottery shards can be found in the beach sand and on dives.
Well - maybe that's enough for now. I need to study my dive book so I can pass my Nitrox exam tomorrow and start diving with enhanced oxygen air - if I"m ever able to dive again.
send my love to Target - scratch his ears for me.
I love you and wish you were here. You'd like it I'm sure.