One of our goals on this trip was to take our scuba certification and, until now, Alexandra had been too young. Since Providencia we have been traveling with Kyle and Shelley on “Blowin’ Bubbles” who are both certified instructors from Canada, so the proverbial stars aligned and we decided to do the course as a family.
We left the relative comfort of Red Frog Marina (Alex has become AC dependant…) and motored through some narrow and poorly marked mangrove channels to arrive on the other side of Bastimentos Island where we met up with the usual cast of thieves. Bob and Ann on Baloo arrived a day after us, making our little fleet a foursome, which led to much revelry and potluck dinners on 4 Coconuts.
You had reviewed the training videos (who uses textbooks anymore?) the previous week and so the first morning we were here, Kyle started the course review and later in the day we all suited up and entered the ocean for skills training. The course consisted of five dives and several class lessons followed by a full open water dive and written exam.
It was truly remarkable how easily you adapted to this new environment. As your mother and I sputtered around, it seemed as if you were born with a regulator in your mouths and fins on your feet. The underwater lessons would often digress into spontaneous patty-cakes or happy dances followed by the inevitable underwater summersault. During our dives, we saw all manner of ocean life to include a green moray eel, a southern stingray, toadfish, lionfish, angelfish, and some really funky looking coral.
As every parent knows, there are some special times during the raising of your kids that make you sit back and smile with pride. The last time we were in Fernie and we all went down Boomerang, as I skied out of the bumps I turned to see where you two were and was surprised to see both of you flanking me effortlessly, was one of those times. When we were in Grenada playing volleyball and I was getting ready to receive the serve and I noticed both of you crouching down on either side of me intently focused on the server, was another. Yesterday as Mommy and I hovered above you two as you swam along the reef, totally immersed in this new environment like something out of a James Bond movie, was another one of those moments.
On the shore of the island, we met a young and very entrepreneurial American couple who have developed a totally off-grid, eco-resort “Azul Paradise” catering to the yogi and to the adventurous. They kindly invited us all in for drinks and we were entertained by their pet monkey “Rafiki”. Down the beach is the original accommodation for the crews from “Survivor Panama”, a reality show. There are much fewer tourists here than at Bocas and each day we were treated to native Panamanians arriving in their cayukas selling lobsters and fish for a very reasonable price. The way they navigate the waters in their hand-made cayukas is really something to see and they travel great distances with nothing more than a crude paddle and a good bailer.
We returned to Red Frog to provision, do some laundry, and pick up parts before heading to the San Blas at the end of the week. Our friends at Bocas Marina were celebrating their anniversary with all sorts of fun cruiser activities — egg tossing, live music, and face painting:
We were fortunate enough to have a clear night for a spectacular viewing of the lunar eclipse and feasted our eyes on the accompanying blood Moon: