Monday, May 25, 2015

Senior Trippin' Part 2

Day Three Includes: Harry (The human kind + the dog kind) and a Floppy Hat

My father and I got certified last year, here in Utah, to scuba dive. The scuba diving business in Utah is hurting because.. for those that don't know, Utah is a dry flippin' desert.
 I was certified in a crater (I like to tell people I have scuba dived in a volcano) which is cool, but whenever I am close to the ocean for the rest of my life, I will take advantage of the scuba diving. No offense to my lovely state, but the scuba diving atmosphere is not your best feature.
My father and I have wanted to scuba at Grand Turk for quite a while for one reason: The Wall.
The Wall is similar to The Drop Off in Finding Nemo..
"The drop off?? The drop off! What are we insane?!!! Why don't we just fry them up now and serve them with chips!"
Comforting. Thank you Finding Nemo.

(Borrowed This Pic From A Hotel's Blog. #blogtheft)
The Wall area starts as shallow as 35 feet then dramatically drops to 7,000 feet where only 150 feet are visible below before thick.. blackness.
Bring It.
I figured I could do anything after last years run in with the shark in Cozumel.
True story.
So we parted ways with our besties, and took a taxi to the dive place that we went through to begin our scuba excursion. This is the part of the show where we met Harry.  Ladies... Let me tell ya a lil somethin' bout Harry. Okay more than one lil somethin's 'bout Harry:
1. He is from England
2. Yes, he has an accent
3. Beach. Blonde. Babe.
4. Just the right amount of facial hair
5. Expert scuba diver
6. Extremely Handsome
7. Too old for me
As our instructor, he would be in charge of taking us to see the most popular sights (as if he isn't one of them) and over all, make our dives enjoyable. Mission Accomplished.
The three of us suited up, and walked across the street to the boat where he drove us to the first dive.
Suns out Buns out

When I was taking the hours upon hours of classes to become certified, we learned about a few different ways to get into the water from the boat with all of our gear on. Buffy (the certifier) briefly went over the falling backwards technique that is most often seen in movies.. She then laughed and told us we would never do that in the real world, it was just part of the lesson she had to teach.
For most of the dives I have been on "In The Real World" I have been asked to fall backwards off of the boat. Good one Buffy, good one. I won't hold those incorrect statistics against her however, because she's awesome and also because falling backwards is more fun anyway.
I fell in backwards and it all went down hill from there. Literally and in the best way possible. We SLOWLY sunk to that 35 to 45 feet depth before the drop off I was talking about earlier, and the whole way down I kept thinking what I always think on dives. THIS IS TOTALLY WICKED. 
Being underwater with that much space above is unlike anything imaginable. A lot of people think that being surrounded by water, wearing a tank, wetsuit, having something shoved in my face, goggles, and a weight belt means claustrophobia or a tight cramped feeling of closeness and inability to move. For me anyway, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Water when clear, is just like being in air. The only difference is there is a sort of weightless weight underwater. While its true that the weight and pressure of water is more than air, gravity does not work the same underwater. Astronauts use scuba type diving to practice for the weightlessness of zero g.
Looking above and around, there is nothing for miles. It feels free, and is very relaxing. Breathing is just like normal breathing, the only difference is the apparatus in your mouth.
There is nothing quite like the sensation of relaxed space I get when I scuba dive.
As we descended to the bottom there was plenty to see. Coral reefs, fish, fish, more fish, exotic fish, small fish, schools of fish, single fish, (single fish.. I feel ya) starfish, crabs, sea snails, and a family of nine barracuda.
More help from Finding Nemo, a Barracuda is the big fish at the beginning of the movie with the sharp teeth, the fish that eats Marlins entire family besides Nemo.
Again.. the sweet comfort Disney brings to my soul.
But I had experienced Barracudas before, and even though they are super eerie to be around because they have the ability to be completely still under water and just stare blankly at you, they are not super dangerous to be around. Unless you are a clown fish apparently.
This is an actual picture my dad took of the Barracuda at a distance. Only seven are pictured out of nine. Can you find them?

NINE AT ONCE!!?!? That was pretty cool. After gliding along the reef for a while we made our way to The Wall which is essentially a continuation of the reef, it just drops abruptly off to that 7,000 ft. I was talking about. It wasn't as creepy as I thought it would be, Nessie didn't pay us a visit, but we did see some awesome coral and sea-life along the way. As we scaled The Wall, taking everything in, we never descended deeper than about 65 ft.
At one point, Harry wanted to show me an apparently rare sea snail, he pulled me by my hand down to where I could see it by him..
After about forty minutes down there (my father accurately calls himself an air hog) we surfaced and headed to the second dive. I probably could have gone another forty minutes to give you an idea about how much air my father uses. A few days later I would learn from a different instructor that the reason females always have more air, is because they aren't talking underwater.
He was just upset that he isn't Harry.
We prepared for the next dive, changed tanks, and descended into the Big Blue. This dive was just as if not more amazing than the last. Even more sea-life, and lots to see. On the way up, we always take a safety stop to prevent our lungs from blowing up due to pressure differences. Harry taught us a cool new trick that I have only been able to pull off twice.. it includes bringing bubbles down from where you are blowing them out, putting two fists together and thrusting them forward really hard to somehow create a ring of air that lasts a surprisingly long time. Safety And Skill Time With Harry.  
He drove us back to the beach, we dropped off our gear, and while my father was getting situated I walked a short distance down a hallway to pet the sleeping dog.
 I was alarmed to see that the sleeping dog's face was half missing. The right side of her face was toothy and it was a little scary.. the skin around her mouth was gone. Turns out she had just had surgery to remove some cancer and was a super friendly cute dog.. Then I petted her. Then I regretted petting her. This big dog was shedding apparently.. a lot and my hand was covered. Almost completely. The restroom was locked so I had to wait and do my best not to touch anything on the taxi ride to the beach, where I could wash it off.
Thank goodness for salty oceans... that are supposedly cleansing.
 I don't do hairy situations very well..
Lesson of the day: Harry situations>>>>>>>>Hairy situations
I met back up with my girls and we played on the beach until it was time to head back to the boat. I learned that they had had a very different day involving random tours, inappropriate pirates, and obnoxious wasted people. I felt bad for them because it had not been fun.. but my day was fantastic. ;)

  On the way back to the boat I accomplished my goal of "Obtain Floppy Hat" and that was that.

In our cabin on the ship ft. my Floppy Hat

"but first.. let me take a selfie"

Day Four: Some American History, A Holy Place, What Hills Are Actually For, and The Reason Why I Can't Wear My Red Pearl Earrings During Christmas.

One Word: Puerto Rico
Okay maybe it's two, but sometimes I do that because "two words" doesn't sound as dramatic.
Like when asked why Maleficent is such a great movie my response is:
"One word: Angelina Jolie."
But I digress..
We decided that we didn't need to leave the boat as soon as we could, to get to Puerto Rico, because we had "clear until nine p.m. to be back on the ship" and that much time in Puerto Rico was for some reason not necessary.
BIG mistake.
We finally got off of the ship and onto a van with a Puerto Rican who knew his stuff. He gave us a tour of San Juan that was hands down the most life changing tour I have been on in my short life of eighteen years. Since Puerto Rico is technically part of the USA, their history is our history, so here is some tidbits from our tour guide, and even more googled facts I didn't remember.
Clear back in 1000 AD some Arawak Indians settled on the island.  Almost 500 years later, Christopher Columbus claimed it for Spain.
This is boring.. I will be fast.. basically after Chris claimed the land, some guy named Ponce De Leon ran into Puerto Rico while searching for the Fountain of Youth. The fountain of youths' tales started long before Ponce's time, so when he was older the myth of the
 "paradisiacal healing waters that reverse age"
sounded pretty great, and by darn it.. he wanted to find that stuff.
He ended up creating the oldest settlement on Puerto Rico in his travels and taking over the natives, using them as slaves and making himself the first governor. Not cool.
He calls the settlement San Juan bc his first name is Juan therefore naming it after himself..
Classy Juan.
About 400 years later slavery is abolished in Puerto Rico, and the country is officially recognized as part of Spain. in 1898 during the U.S. Spanish war, the U.S.A invaded and took Puerto Rico. They did let Puerto Rico establish their own government however, and the people were treated generally better as newfound American Territory. A few years later the people were admitted as U.S. citizens.
For many years after that the U.S. trained military soldiers on these islands, but there was protesting and the training stopped.
That's everything in a nutshell..
Important for later: Back in Ponce's time, they built some sick looking castle-like forts.
They didn't disappoint.
As we drove through San Juan we learned a lot, we drove past statues of all of the presidents that have visited Puerto Rico, hence my picture with Barack Obama.
Holding hands with the pres..

I also had to get a picture on the steps of the capital building that was super cool architecturally and historically.
It even had an Abraham Lincoln quote on it, USA USA USA!!!
(That wasn't the quote, just me being patriotic;)

There was a million + one other really cool statues, monuments to the Holocaust, and so much more! Being the history lover I am, I experienced it all.

Being the handsome man lover that I also am, I had to experience
*photo with Puerto Rican Copper*
You're welcome.

As we drove around San Juan, we ended up at a beautiful beach that unfortunately we did not have time to play at, but we still had fun taking pictures and enjoying the view.
Tripple Trouble

After the beach we circled around and made our way to the back of the Capitol Building. We decided very wisely to go inside. The ceiling was.. One word: Super Awesome. So were the walls. They were giant murals telling the history of their country, including some different Gods/Goddesses on the ceiling representing the values they most believe in.

After that, we went to what I like to call My First Time In a Cathedral. It was really old, and really awesome. So much work went in to those churches so long ago, the labor, the sacrifices, can almost be felt within the walls. The spirit of devotion to God was felt. There was beautiful monastery music playing in speakers that resonated to sound like the choir was right there with us.

As a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, it was different than my church obviously, not just because it is old. We believe in celebrating Christ's Resurrection, rather than focussing on the cross as those who worshiped in this cathedral did long ago, and the many that do today. There was also some graphic images/statues of Jesus that I am not used to seeing in my own Mormon churches. The feeling was notably different as I saw these. 
I believe that the tour guide said it best as we walked through.. He bore his testimony:
 "Christ already suffered, we don't need to keep him up there on that cross anymore. He is risen."
 The tour guide, who is not of our faith, had the spirit of truth as he spoke and I was very grateful to him for sharing his thoughts and feelings, they were my own as well. He is risen.
Interesting side story: The cathedral is mostly a museum now, rather than an active church, because it is so historical and old and whatnot. Not too long ago there was even a gift shop in it.. Recognize that story from the Bible? The people of Puerto Rico removed the gift shop just as Jesus did in His time, from His temple, and it continues to be a reverent place, free of the distractions of the world today.
I learned something in that building of worship, whatever faith you belong to, The Holy Spirit can be felt when we leave behind the world to worship the same God and to remember His son who paid the price that we might see both of them again, but there are certainly differences to be noticed and truths to be found for ourselves through and only by the Holy Spirit. Revelation of what is true exists, if we ask and listen. "Knock, and it shall be opened."
I am so excited about this part.. The fort/castle/future home. Okay calm down, I realize the odds are not in my favor for that last one, but I can dream.
I took about 75 panoramic pictures before we even got to the fort. The area was beautiful, the buildings all stop to reveal a huge space of grassland rolling hills, and the rocky coast where the fort was built. Or rather, excavated out of the rock. We went right before sunset, and by the time we walked through the grassland part on a paved path,
 It. Was. Closed. Yep. Closed. We. Couldn't. Even. Go. Inside. My. Future. Home.
No worries, we pretended we were sneaky by climbing over a wall, and got to see pictures of the inside on the free maps at our disposal. LOL @ the consequence of our "Big Mistake" earlier..

(:To my awesome grandparents who are part of the four-to-six people that will read this, "lol" means "laugh out loud" in my case, not lots of love..

but lots of love to you anyway;) xoxo

..only not LOL.. More like COL (cry out loud)
The outside was still gorgeous and had all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore, especially along the wall. We took a path (and by took a path I mean, made our own by rolling down the hills in every way you can imagine) to a really old cemetery that was beautiful, and made our way to an incredible lookout point to watch the sun go down over Puerto Rico, whilst sitting on a cliff over the ocean next to a castle. Not a bad way to end the day. 


Cemetery featuring: Wind Blown Hair.  
When the bae forgets to meet you at sunset...

but you got your girls.. so it's all good. ;)

"Life is like a camera. Focus on what's important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives. If things don't work out, just take another shot." 

I did take another shot, but I found I liked this one better. Sometimes, the times that don't work out in our lives, end up being the greatest adventures. The moments that we look back on and smile.


But it wasn't even over yet! We all wanted to try some authentic Puerto Rican food so we found this cute little restaurant called Cafe Puerto Rico.

SPOILER: The creativity that went into the naming of this restaurant does not reflect the tastiness of the food in any way.

When the BAE is apparently MIA ;) 

We also found our friends Taniya and Ty from the bike tour. We decided to eat with them which was a party. We ate some weird delicious fried banana stuff that I don't remember the name of, and really tasty food that I also don't have any idea how to explain. It's Puerto Rican.
The host guy that was seating people looked to be only a couple years older than me, and kept looking over. My mom said he was interested in me or something, but I wasn't completely sure that he was.. interested in girls. ;) Near the end of our meal he walked right over to me, and he told me that he loved my red pearl earrings. I laughed and told him thank you thinking, hey maybe he does like girls! Then he said:
"But you can't wear them during Christmas or people will make fun of you."



He laughed and walked away. I was left to ponder the original question of whether or not he was straight, and also to wonder why exactly I would be made fun of for wearing red pearl earrings during Christmas. I was dying of laughter. And questions. Is it because they look like ornaments? Is it because they look like Rudolph's shiny red nose? Another tradition involving Christmas that only Puerto Ricans follow? The possibilities are endless.. Please let me know if you have any insight on the situation, input would be greatly accepted and appreciated. Until further notice, I will refrain from wearing my red pearl earrings during Christmas, else I run the risk of being made fun of.