Sawyer's SCUBA blog/Chilling in Placencia

Trip Start Feb 07, 2012
Trip End Apr 24, 2012

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Flag of Belize  , Stann Creek,
Friday, April 20, 2012

    Hi. This is Sawyer blogging about Placencia. We got here the day we left our boat, and we liked it so much we decided to stay until the end of our trip. We're staying in this apartment off the beach with its own kitchen, mini living room, dining table and two seperate bedrooms. It's nice staying here, because we've sometimes been staying in tiny hotel rooms with shared bathrooms, like our place in Zarcero. You could probably fit six of those rooms in our apartment. We're also really close to the beach, so we can go swimming whenever we want. There's also a lot of good restaurants and nice people in Placencia too, so it's a nice place to stay if you're looking for a good beach town.

    Anyway, we were staying near this random dive shop, and we went in and found out that I was old enough to certified for SCUBA! So I decided to take a three-day course. It would be my birthday present, because it costs a lot of money to take the class. And believe me, it was a good present. It took some work, because you got this textbook full of quizzes you had to do. The first day of my class, I did nothing but watch videos in the dive shop for 6 hours! Since there were so many videos, it sounded really complicated.  But my dad said that I didn't have to worry about ALL of that on every single dive, so then I felt better. The only thing I was worried about was that I would just go right to the reef in two days to do a dive. In the videos, it showed the students having their practice session in a pool, and I didn't think I'd be anywhere near a pool in two days.

    When we did get to the island, I saw that it was about the size of my school library. There was just an outhouse, a couple of picnic tables, and about three palm trees. It was a beautiful island, but very small. My instructor, Devin, told me we'd do some skills in the shallow water while evereyone else did a dive. That made me feel better. We practiced neutral bouyancy, a controlled emergency swimming ascent, flooding and clearing the mask, and a bunch of other things. Most of them weren't too hard, and the ones that I did have difficulty with I was just doing wrong. Once I did them the right way, they weren't as hard. After I was done with the skills, Devin took me for a short dive before lunch! We only went to about twenty feet, but it was still awesome. It definitely felt different than snorkeling. When you're snorkeling, you can only go north, south, east and west. When you're diving you can also go up and down, so it feels more three-dimensional. You also have that huge tank on your back, so you have to be careful not to kick it while you're swimming. Some parts are different, some are exactly the same.

    After lunch we got in the boat to do a dive with my dad. I was a bit nervous getting in, because the boat was too small to do a giant stride entry. So I had to sit on the side of the boat with my gear and do a backflip into the sea. It was a  little intimidating, but easy once you actually did it. The water was about forty feet deep. We had to do some skills at forty feet, too, like the mask remove and replace, an alternate air source ascent, and equalizing your ears as you're going down. After that, I had my first real open water dive. Another thing that's different with diving vs. snorkeling is that when you're diving, there's lots of open water between the reef and the surface, so you can see a bunch of open water fish, like bar jacks, triggerfish and spotted eagle rays. Some of the highlight fish of our dives were a spotted drum, lionfish, nurse sharks and a hogfish eating a sea urchin.

    After my second dive day, I had to take a written test. If I got a 70% or better, I would get my cerification. And I scored an 86! I got a temporary certification, and Devin said I'd get my real one with my picture on it in the mail soon. I think this was a great part of my trip and I'm really happy I can dive whenever I want now.

Parent note:  We are super proud of Sawyer.  We also loved Placencia - as Sawyer said we ended up extending our stay here till the end of our trip.  It is a beautiful village with a great mix of Garifuna (think rasta), Mayan and x-pat people. Very warm and welcoming locals.  Our kids swam and played with locals. Was wonderful.

One last blog entry coming up in a few days as a final re-cap.  Thanks for sharing with us!
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