Catching Up: Under the Panamanian Sea

Right.  Going to get caught up on these travel logs ‘ere I return to the Great White North.

After UPaz Media’s murkily monotonous methodology course, made more than a modicum for Master of Arts ameliorated after accommodations of Amer Abdalla and Alvaro (alliteration ending now…) I joined a large host of UPeacers for some diving fun in Panama to shed my surface-woes.

The voyage between Costa Rica and Panama is kind of rough, I’m not sure what kind of immigration problems the two countries have been having but the measures they’ve both taken are obscene.  Three passport checks on the way there, five on the way back, and over an hour wait at the border for processing on each side (on the way there, my bus left without me, but fortunately a kindly taxi-driver chased it down to its destination with all the fervour of, well, Taxi Driver).  Once arrived in Bocas del Toro after a refreshing boat ride things calmed down, mellowed out and kicked back.

There’s not a whole lot of description to describe really, I got my Advanced Open Water certification (which a nasal congestion had prevented me from attaining in time to catch my plane a couple of years back in Honduras), involving a wreck dive which was delightfully more spooky the second time, at night.  In addition to a wreck dive and a night dive, we also had to do an annoying navigation dive and a “deep dive” which required a fellow Canadian UPeacer, an old German broad, a douchey Dutch dude and myself to go down to 100 metres to experience nitrogen narcosis, the effects of which are similar to those felt if you inhale a goodish amount of laughing gas.  It was pretty fun.

The best dive was our elective, “underwater naturalist”, which very leniently required us to spot a number of vertebrates, invertebrates, coral and plant life.  Now, the other options were Peak Performance Buoyancy which teaches precise control over one’s lungs and therefore movement, and a Drift Dive which puts us out into a fast moving current.

The reason the Underwater Naturalist dive was so much fun, is that we had to do it while necessarily incorporating these other skills, as we were plunked into the ocean in a very strong current at a very shallow depth.  This meant spotting aquatic life very, very quickly while zipping along through the water and controlling our movement perfectly so we didn’t get our heads bashed in by spikey (and firey) coral and such things.  The instructor got his leg torn up pretty good.

Apart from diving, there was drinking.  Now, this may sound simple, but as we arrived just before the national Panamanian day of independence which inexplicably bans the sale of alcohol, it became somewhat complicated.  Being the proactive alcoholic that I am, I secured some rum in the hostel freezer – which was more than sampled by the family of the owners (bastards!) so I jacked their blender, procured some pineapples and coconut milk, and with the aid of the life-saving, rum-hoarding Katelyn we still made a merry time of it.

That’s all there is to say about the trip really; swimming like a fish and drinking like a fish.

Pura vida.

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Published in: on 9 December 2009 at 5:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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