Slow Dive – Aug. 31, 2012

Tonight I am back at the former fish market, now the fruit market, on the waterfront. There is some kind of cultural festival taking place, with the stage and band set up, and loudspeakers that you can hear from a kilometre away. It is in the square right beside the Governor’s House. I am just far enough away that I can dictate my blog and still be understood.

(Photos here)

Having just wandered through the various booths, it is remarkable how easygoing and happy everyone seems to be. Like everywhere on Bonaire, liquor is sold openly, with no apparent restrictions. Nonetheless, no one seems to be drunk or creating a disturbance. Children run around on their own, without any fear. It’s just another example of the easygoing, friendly attitude the Bonairian people have.

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Friday was my last full day at work for the next two weeks. As I explained earlier, my Internet project has gone as far as it can until some changes are made by the IT Department in Cary. I got a firm quote today from The A Group to effect two changes to the software which I would most like to see. In particular, these requested changes would allow unique titles for each page to be created, and also introduce a dropdown menu so you can gain an overview of the entire site with a quick mouse-over, instead of clicking on each link.  We are awaiting approval from the IT Department to see whether or not these changes will be made.

(While I have been sitting here, several high-powered street bikes drove by, revving their engines to the max, creating so much noise that I had to stop dictating for a few minutes. I often hear the sound of revving motorcycles throughout the night. I much prefer hearing a donkey braying instead.)

Back to the office.

I was also able to meet with Brad Swanson, and had one of the most productive meetings to date. While I have not been able to work with Brad extensively, this past week, that changed. On Wednesday, he helped me identify the names of the people in the photos. Today I was able to teach him how to create a photo gallery for the new website. Brad is the photography guy on Bonaire, which is why you don’t often see him in photos, as he is the one behind the lens.

I had previously taken the photos of the 2007 Bonaire Alumni Reunion and organized them into folders. I walked Brad through the process as he uploaded the files and labelled each picture.

Next I had Brad help me rewrite the proposal document for live streaming audio. This has been my pet project since I arrived. Once we had it worded properly, we exported it from Google Docs into Word. Brad wisely suggested that it would not be productive to present this to decision-makers right now, as it would simply get lost in hundreds of other emails. A better timing would be to wait until right before the ministry team meetings where this item will be discussed.  So, that’s the plan!

I was also able to finalize the instructions for photo sorting. While this project remains incomplete, I got the hardest part of the work done by sorting a few thousand files from 2000 to 2007.

They are not pressed for time on the remaining projects related to Bonaire’s 2014 50th anniversary, as that event is still two years away. This was one of the reasons that Brandon made the decision to allow me to take the next two weeks off to be with my sister.

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Eden Beach Dive:

Immediately at five o’clock, I grabbed my scuba gear and went to Eden Beach to service the Sea Monitoring sensors. Once again, I did a solo dive, but it was vastly different from the previous week. I was able to go straight to the wreck, and started at the flotation bottles at five metres. As I was vigorously scrubbing the algae and the beginnings of fire coral, I thought to myself, If I have to be doing cleaning, this is the best environment to do it in!

At five metres, the wreck is still far below, the shore is almost invisible, and it is just you and the work right in front of you, and deep blue water all around. I was completely relaxed, and really enjoyed the experience.

I then went down to the 12-metre level and serviced the three sensors there, and then down to the 20-metre level.

As I was cleaning the second-from-the-last sensor, my dive knife came loose from its housing and went twirling down to the wreck. I chased it down and retrieved it, which forced me to go to 26 metres. Not a big deal, but rather annoying.

I finished up the sensors, and headed to shore, and turned left to go north along the slope. I did this dive at about 15 metres, and was able to take my time. I took a good three-minute video of some very unafraid French angel fish, as well as a couple of cleaner shrimp. I’m not sure if the presence of only a single diver disturbs the marine life less, or if it was my slow pace, but I found all the marine life busily going about their own chores rather than swimming away from me. I find this type of diving where you are not so much just spotting the various forms of life, but rather observing their behaviour, a very pleasant change of pace.

I watched a trumpet fish shadowing a parrot fish in order to sneak up on its prey. It’s interesting to watch how they flank the parrot fish within less than an inch so that the other small fish can’t see them coming. Altogether, I was under water for almost an hour. I found this to be one of the most enjoyable dives I’ve been on.

I also came across a blue cow fish. It had exactly the same colouring as I noticed on a cow fish a couple of weeks before. I knew there had to be another male in the vicinity, but I wasn’t immediately able to spot it. But a couple minutes later, about 15 metres away, there it was, a rival male also coloured blue.

I’m fascinated by the great number of fish that can change their colour to blend in: The trumpet fish, the file fish, the sergeant fish, the jacks, and the octopi. They can all change their colour to suit their environment or activity. It seems to be a much more common ability under water than on land.

When I exited the water, I quickly stowed my gear went home for a quick shower, and headed over to the Pedersens’. Once again, they made me feel extremely welcome. Tonight was Episode IV, which was actually the first Star Wars released. I recall watching a DVD of this as a teen when I lived on Bonaire. I still think it is an all-time classic, although the acting wasn’t as good as on the other episodes. Nonetheless, this is what launched one of the most popular movie series of all time.

Dave also asked me to accompany him Saturday afternoon to a yacht that he is considering purchasing, so that I can dive underneath and take pictures for him of the condition of the hull.

I headed home and went straight to bed, as I hope to have an early dive Saturday morning. I’m looking forward to meeting my sister!

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