Like Riding a Bike – Sept. 2, 2012

After writing Saturday’s blog, I ended up going back to the airport last night at 11:15, the time Joanna understood she would arrive, even though the travel agent said she would arrive at 11:50. Unfortunately, when I got to the airport, no one was there except the security staff. They told me that Flight 800 would not arrive until 1:00 a.m., which was an hour-and-a-half away. I decided to go back home and go to bed. I managed to get about a half hour’s sleep. Then at 20 to 1:00, the alarm went off, and I headed back to the airport once more. Just as I arrived, I heard the scream of the jet engines as the plane landed. About ten minutes later, my wonderful sister walked in, and said, “Wake up, John!” I was very happy to see her, and I finally got her home.

 Photos here

I had her bed made up in my air-conditioned room, but she said she wanted to sleep in the spare bedroom with a lot of fans and the Bonaire night air. Joanna ended up sleeping in my room. There was enough space in the master bedroom for two beds. I turned off the alarms.

So altogether, Joanna had gotten up at 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, drove from Kingston to Toronto, and 24 hours later, finally arrived at my home on Bonaire. What a day for my sister!

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This morning I woke up just before seven, and tiptoed out of the room, as Joanna was still sleeping. We had decided that she wouldn’t come to church, as she was too exhausted. Apparently the previous week in Joanna’s practise was one of the worst she has had to date, with a good friend of hers near death with cancer.

On top of that, having the plane break down, and then being diverted to Aruba without being informed by the airline, made for one exasperating day. Joanna did wake up just before I left, and stayed up for the rest of the day.

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At church, I looked at the back of the bulletin, and there was my picture, and a note saying I was happy my sister was coming. I do remember last week I got up and told everybody that my sister was coming next week. Bob Lassiter, the man who does the bulletin, apparently took a picture.

As usual, the church service was very good, and dealt with the passage when David defeated Goliath, and David said that the battle was the Lord’s. I feel I’m getting to know the people in the congregation, and they seem to be getting to know me. Amado Felix left me his phone number, so I’ll call him on Monday, and we’ll drop by at some point. Amado and his wife Sue want to see Joanna.

After the service, we enjoyed cookies and juice. A little boy, who I didn’t know, asked to play my iPad. Of course, I gave it to him, and he was playing on the flight simulator. I didn’t stay for Sunday School, which is after the service, as I wanted to get back to Joanna.

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When I got home, Joanna was in high gear, and had begun to reorganize my house. The side door was opened for a cross-breeze. She watered the plants, swept the walk and the front porch. I was told that I wasn’t allowed to eat my breakfast in the house! I had to eat it out on the front porch. It’s amazing I survived this long.

She had even put out a bowl with sugar in it for the sugarbirds. They haven’t discovered it yet.

For lunch, we walked across the street and had a very nice meal for a reasonable price at the Chibi Chibi Restaurant. We met Tom, an Antillean man, with his family, who attend the International Bible Church. His wife’s brother was in my HAVO class, and ended up marrying a Dutch girl, and is living in Holland. We were able to practise our Dutch a bit with them. Joanna doesn’t seem to have forgotten much.

Then we walked a few doors down to Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn, and Joanna registered with them. Then we rented equipment, and I showed Joanna the dock. Up until now, Joanna said she was too tired to go diving, but as soon as she saw the water, she said, “We should go now!” Of course, I didn’t argue.

So we went home, grabbed our scuba tanks, returned to the Carib Inn and dove off the end of the dock. Joanna elected not to go for a checkout dive with her dive master as she said I was a good enough teacher.

We started by checking her buoyancy, and soon found that she needed some more weights. Fortunately, we had put some lead weights at the top of the ladder, and she was able to get slightly negative with those. Next, I checked if she could clear her mask, and she did just fine. Before I knew it, she pointed to the deeper water, and wanted to proceed with a regular dive.

When we sat by the pool before lunch, we had discussed her objectives. I agreed that the primary task was to make sure she was comfortable. I had learned during the deep-dive course I had just completed that it was best to work up gradually to the deeper depths in order to maintain your comfort level. In my case, I am finding out that I don’t deal as well as I used to by jumping straight into things, but I do soon adapt, and I wanted Joanna to have the same gradual experience.

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Tonight, Joanna and I are blogging together:

Joanna: John and I are sitting here at Far Beach, listening to the waves, hearing the wind blow through the palm trees, and looking out at the night sky, enjoying the Milky Way as the moon rises behind us. It’s very odd for me, looking at the waves—the biggest problem being that there is no sand at Far Beach! This is actually quite disappointing, as the fine white sand that used to be at Far Beach was always one of my favourite memories, in fact, I think it has always been one of the favourite places in my mind. I’m hopeful that over the years the beach will slowly repair itself. But until then, there’s a little bit of sadness.

That having been said, the night air is warm, and there’s a strong breeze, and there’s the usual, wonderful sound of waves lapping on the shore. The other thing that is unusual, though, is that there are palm trees out here! I remember them from previous trips to Bonaire years ago, and I remember just kind of giggling to myself, thinking that it was such a silly idea, and that they would never last. But here they are, alive and well, and significantly taller, so I presume somebody is watering them.

Dive at the Carib Inn:

So today was my first dive! As John commented, it was a little bit like getting back on a bicycle, hence the title. It really felt quite wonderful! I said to John, “For me, I really think of it more like walking.” It’s one of those activities that may seem awkward and difficult at first, but once you get it, it’s so natural that you forget that there is any skill involved at all, and you just move about and enjoy your environment.

There are a few changes that I’m adjusting to–one is my new fins–which are ridiculously long, and I kept tapping either John or the coral with them. But other than that, it was a fairly natural experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting right up close and personal with the reef again!

I was surprised at how many things we encountered that I would have considered fairly rare and unique, the kind of thing that you see one of in a dive, but there seemed to be a number of them. Maybe that just indicates how long I’ve been away from the reef, and it’s changed. Well, I think the last time I was here was 13 years ago in 1999. Some of those ‘things’ include lion fish, which I don’t think existed on Bonaire when I was here. John had blogged about the lion fish, but I don’t think I realized what they look like, so when I came across them, they were just quite miraculous. They look like fish with feathers sticking out at all angles, feathers that are black and white! Really quite an unbelievable sight, and I took quite a few photos with John’s camera.

(John read me the riot act today because I didn’t have my essential electronic gear on me, meaning I didn’t have my phone, camera/mini computer in my pocket. I pointed out to John, Why would I bother when I have him? He then proceeded to pull out two varieties of phones, and I’m not sure what else.)

Other things I encountered on the dive were these wonderful little sort of soft worms. The back of them looks like the front of a tuxedo, with all these little frilly, almost lace-like ribbons on them that are pale blue and iridescent. Again I think you will see them among John’s photos. They are called a lettuce sea slug. We also came across a sea cucumber, but it was different than how I remember sea cucumbers. This one, instead of being just solid grey, was tan coloured with black dots on it, and not a variety I had seen before. John picked it up and put it on my hand, and it proceeded to attach quite firmly with hundreds of little ‘suction-cup’ feet. Some of them remained adhered to my hand when I pulled it off, so I don’t think I’ll do that again, for its sake.

There were many, many shrimps—the beautiful little blue and white, tiny, delicate shrimps that are called cleaner shrimps. John was trying to teach me how to hold my hand in the right posture that they would recognize as a submissive cleaning posture. I didn’t quite understand what he was pointing out at the time, but, nevertheless, I did get my fingertips cleaned by these things. Besides being a fascination in itself, because they generally hang out amongst the anemones (the tips of the anemones are sticky like Scotch Tape), but besides just the experience of putting my hand in there, there was also the challenge of trying to maintain a stationary position while being pushed by the current, and just adjusting to that. At the same time, you are being pushed up and down by inhalations and exhalations, which cause you to become more or less buoyant. So that was a really fascinating experience!

The other thing that I had never seen but had heard of was a grouper having the inside of its mouth cleaned by a larger banded cleaner shrimp. The grouper was sitting there with its tail down, its mouth wide open, and this shrimp was reaching right inside its mouth! I happened to have John’s camera at the time and took a picture, so that should be visible as well. But I think the flash kind of ended the cleaning experience, because the shrimp pulled out and the grouper closed its mouth. Something to remember!

Anyways, all in all, it was a really wonderful dive, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

John: After our dive, we relaxed in Bruce’s swimming pool for a little while, and Joanna also bought a log book to start to record her dives. It also helps avoid hassles when registering at dive shops, as you prove your experience. She realizes now that the new science of diving involves logging everything, and so now she does.

We reviewed the photos on my iPad, and Joanna was quite pleased with how most of them turned out.

We went home and changed into normal clothes, and hung up our wet suits, and then headed down to Wannadive to pick up a new set of tanks.

Then we decided to go for a drive up to your home near the water plant, and had a look around that neighbourhood. We noticed that the whole subdivision has expanded for several blocks. They all seem like very nice homes.

We tried to head up the mountain to the neighbourhood near the water tanks, but that road seems to be closed.

Instead, we drove by our old home in Antriol. Joanna noticed that the oleander bushes that mom planted in the front are still there, but everything else seems to have disappeared. Our neighbour’s guava tree seems to be alive and well, and quite tall. We drove through a bit of Antriol, and then back to the seashore for a very nice fish supper. Joanna had wahoo, and I had some Dorado.
Joanna: We were thinking of Dad, and thinking of how much he would love to join us for that meal! I’m surprised how much John likes fish.

John: Obviously we haven’t seen enough of each other, because I’ve liked fish for some time. In fact, I like anything that I haven’t tried before.

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Then I asked Joanna if she would mind tagging along while I did my blog out in some secluded spot, and so far she seems quite happy. She suggested Far Beach, and so that’s how we ended up here.

Joanna: The moon is rising behind us–it’s about a three-quarter moon.

John lit our way down the beach with the flashlight app on his phone, but we certainly won’t need that on the way back. I’m waiting for him to pull a barbecue or something out of this phone! He certainly seems to have every other gadget on it.

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John: I must say that Joanna and I seemed to reconnect almost immediately. In fact, even our hand signals under water seemed to be understood instantly, which is a lot different than trying to communicate with other divers. Joanna has lots of plans for touring the island and camping out, and I am very much looking forward to these next two weeks together.

It is time to head home, as we are both a bit sleep deprived.

So begins my last two weeks with my most favourite person in the whole wide world–Joanna!

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