Turtles and Lobsters

September 21, 2002

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I started off the morning with another surprise for Essan - scuba diving. Neither of us is a licensed diver, but we've been planning to do it for a while. Today we would go diving with an instructor to get a taste for it. We first checked out the gear at the dive shop, and met with our instructors. Cathy the instructor: "You are Stan? You don't look like a Stan."  -"What do I look like?"  -"Well, um... you look like a Dave." There you have it.

After yesterday's snorkeling experience I had my doubts about how Essan would like scuba -- heck, she was cold in this water and seemed to have technical difficulties in general. Once under water I was happy like a little kid, and Essan was as confused as one. But the fish were beautiful, and the cushion starfish was interesting to touch.

After the 1st dive, Essan decided not to go on the 2nd dive, as she was shivering cold for quite a while after the dive. On the 2nd dive I had way less time to take pictures as we were diving deeper and further away from the boat, and let's face it, I was busy adjusting my buoyancy and trying to avoid hitting too many corrals. The sea turtle was definitely the highlight of the dive. Some day when Essan feels more comfortable in and around water in general I hope that we can go diving together again.

After lunch we headed further south to the volcano. We missed the sunset by a few minutes but were able to see the moonrise (which pretty much coincided since it was a full moon equinox). Equipped with hiking boots we joined many hundreds of people at a vista point and watched the glow of lava flowing into the ocean. It was an amazing experience, even though we were quite at a distance from the actual lava. As a matter of fact we could see some few lights in the distance, people with flashlights out in the lava fields in the darkness of the night. In this terrain it seems quite hazardous to go on a hike in complete darkness...

Based on our experience so far, we decided to drive back to Hilo for dinner and from there to the hotel, as it seemed to be the faster route by far. Hilo was a party town that evening: loud music could be heard everywhere, as all election camp headquarters were celebrating their victories, even if just moral ones.

For us it was a time to count casualties. While I am not a big fan of sunscreen, I am even less of a fan of sunburn. However, somehow I must have forgotten that the diving mask would strip sunscreen off my face, and even worse, that I applied sunscreen with my shoes on; on the boat they were exposed to the sun. The sunburn on my nose and especially on my feet was out of this world. The lobster coloring was the least of my problems...

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