Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pirating the Caribbean II: St. Croix

St. Croix, USVI
May 2011
Royal Caribbean Cruise island stop #2 of 6
All photos unfiltered

This bad boy was much needed after my first scuba experience.

Like serious, man. #Respect

Hard to keep track of time on islands.
About to get my scuba dive on at Cane Bay Dive Shop. Never been diving before. Thought I was going to be awesome. #IWasWrong
This little chow is watching over the scuba gear.

So like much of the Caribbean, St. Croix is known for its scuba, but Cane Bay is considered one of the best places to dive in all the Caribbean because of a spot called the Wall. According to the Cane Bay Dive Shop website, the Wall drops from 40 to 3,200 feet, and includes essentially an underwater wall. But you can only dive that site if you're certified. I'm not. Never gone diving before. Thought I'd be a quick learner and asked if I could still do the Wall. Guide scoffed. They put on some 10-minute training video for me to watch, but there was an army of ants in the room and I spent all my time trying to avoid attacks, as opposed to learning how to operate that respirator-thing.

In a beginner's course of 3 people, I'm the only person who's never dived before. The other guys were working on their last dive before getting certified. When it comes to a scuba trip, you only get to stay out as long as the crappiest person. So if they run out of oxygen, everyone's heading back. This would not bode well for the others. After "viewing" my pointless instructional video, we waded out to the shallow end of Cane Bay. My first underwater breathing test resulted in the guide telling me "to calm your shit." I got water into my respirator, didn't know how to release it, began breathing through my nose, started suffocating, it was a shit show like Bravo's primetime lineup. Dipped my head under the water a second time, and the guide was like "good enough. Let's go." Always reassuring. As we backstroked to our dive site about 20 yards or so away, I thought for one of the very infrequent times in my life - that I might actually seriously injure myself. I didn't know what the hell I was doing, and if I panicked deep under water, I couldn't just rocket myself back to the surface without suffering from decompression sickness, the bends, which could cause permanent damage to the brain. The cheap ass part of me was also thinking - man, I might have to just eat the costs of this and swim back to shore, because I clearly don't know what the hell I'm doing!

This photo courtesy:
So this is some of what's to be seen at The Wall. This is not my photo as the camera I was using at that time couldn't go down to the depths we went. This is also not where I went; the company wouldn't allow me to go to the depths of the Wall for liability purpose. I don't remember how deep we went, I'd guess around 20-feet. Everything you see is incredible. It's as the scuba junkies say, it's the closest thing to space we can imagine. You're just floating around observing sea life do its thing. That said, I couldn't even really focus on enjoying the moment because I was so freaked out about breathing correctly and not giving myself brain damage. I was sucking up my oxygen tank with these huge yoga-esque breaths to calm myself. The guide told me to tap him when anyone hit the 50% mark of their oxygen tank. Knowing how quickly I was sucking up my tank, I tapped our guide at the 55-60% mark. He gave me the OK sign and we continued on. At the 40% mark, I tapped him again. A-OK he responds. 25% mark. A-OK. At this point, I'm starting to get nervous because I have no idea how far out we are, and he's probably underestimating my nerves of plastic. I'm down to about 5-10% of my tank, and tap him again… then realize that we're in a very shallow part of the ocean and if I stood up, I'd be above water. Freaked out for no reason. #WorstScubaDiverEver #DefinitelyShortenedTheOtherDiversTrips #oops
This guy knows how I was feeling post-dive.

Got a mahi maui burger and some tasty cocktail at this spot called Eat. All good. Though this 90-gallon dollop of aioli mayonnaise seems a bit much in retrospect.

Met some local at the bar. The locals there are stoked to meet tourists, forgot the name of the dude, but he was willing to drive me around to some other touristy spots - like the St. Pellier Hut Domino Club, which features a famous beer drinking hog!

Tada!!! This hog has been sucking down so much beer that animal rights activists started taking notice, so the bar and patrons started feeding him alcohol-free beer. If this were the Qwik-E-Mart in "The Simpsons", Apu would be in trouble.

Just being a friendly bartender.

The pig sucks it all down. Makes sure there's not even a drop left.

Then spits out the aluminum can. 

You know this dude has a problem, because no one likes O'Douls. 

These little guys are hopefully not going to be following in the same non-alcoholic footsteps.  Good lord,  is this what the other guy looked like before O'Douls took over his life??? #CautionaryTale

Didn't see any domino playing. Just beer-drinking pigs. But that doesn't sound as good on the marquee. #OrDoesIt?

Some random dam my new buddy/tour guide took me to. I asked him straight up - only half joking - "Uhh, you're not going to kidnap me are you? Cuz the ransom won't go for much."
The port. Christiansted.

That's my boat.


Next: Sailing in Antigua

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