This morning we dive at a site known as “Pipin” after the famous Cuban free diver. I am snorkeling and the day begins disappointingly since the buoy is in 15 m of water and overcast skies and somewhat murky water mean I can barely make out the bottom. But a few sharks appear as we get into the water, and sometime later I fall in with a big cannonball jellyfish pulsing through the blue surface water with its entourage of tiny fishes skittering around it and diving into the bell as I approach.
Meanwhile . . . a couple of big black groupers appear and swim lazily up through the water column and around me. The real show begins as the divers finish their transects and begin converging again on the Itajara, our vessel, which takes the goliath grouper’s scientific name. Approaching the boat, waiting out their safety stops, big predators came out of the woodwork: Caribbean reef sharks and silky sharks, as well as the groupers. Fantastically exhilarating—at one time there are at least six sharks milling around the fantail, coming within two meters of us. This and the similar dive at Cueva del Pulpo yesterday were among the highlights of my diving career.
After a long day in the water and sun, the tray of drinks waiting as we approach the dock is like a mirage of paradise.
Following dinner the big cayman known locally as “Franco” comes alongside the Tortuga, the main barge that houses the kitchen and dining room and bar, as he does most nights, looking for table scraps. This evening he’s right under the edge in all his ten feet of glory. A sobering thought after having swum through the dim caves and overhangs of these mangrove creeks a few days ago.