Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Side of the Volcano We Haven't Seen Yet

Another day in Paradise, and after the massive day we had the day before, we were in no hurry to do anything. We also had 100 Euros left for 3 days and 50 of that set aside for snorkeling so it was off to the supermarket to plan out 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners with the last of our spare change.

We went back to camp and made lunch, fending off a stray kitten that had come to know us and know that it would get a little bit of milk in the morning if it was good. While the kitten feasted of grated cheese, we discovered that the cheapest bread is not the best option and ate our sandwiches anyway.

We spent the rest of the day lying poolside. For the first time in history it was me that decided to go up to the pool first, leaving Courtney sat at the concrete tables near the kitchen, reading a book in the shade. By the time I talked him into joining me, I’d already gone in the pool twice on my own, with plenty of sunbathing and backgammon on the phone in between. We spent the entire afternoon swimming, sunbathing, playing games and reading, until we could no longer chase the sun with our loungers and went back to the kitchen to make hot dogs for dinner.

A day as eventful as any holiday day should be.

The following day was our last full day on the island and we had one thing in mind – snorkeling the volcano. Courtney loves snorkelling and has his own snorkel and fins at home. I’ve tried it once, in Rarotonga with SoulBuddy and loved it then too, especially since when I get tired I can just float. We had arranged to go out on a diving boat that morning and found our way to a little bay at Akrotiri where the divers were already suiting up.

Three other snorkelers were with us, a Thai girl that lived in London and two French guys who were escaping their families for the day. The boat took us out to a bay near the volcano where us snorkelers were told to basically get off and make room for the divers. A lot of the trip felt like we were just extra money on the side, getting in the way of the divers. We were left to snorkel around on our own while the divers were guided around the bay by the tour guides. If it weren’t for us inviting the Thai girl to swim with us, she would have been on her own in the middle of the ocean with no one watching out for her.

The snorkeling itself was good fun. We were told to stay away from the rocks at the edge of the bay because high speed ferries passing through the channel created unpredictable waves, so we swam out where it was more open. The lava formations on the sea floor weren’t as cool as I thought they would be and the fish weren’t as colourful as the ones any of us snorkelers had seen before, in Rarotonga, Goat Island, and Thailand. But being able to interact with massive schools of small silver fish was awesome, as was being able to feel the same confidence in the water that I felt in Rarotonga.

I got out of the water not long after our friend did, sitting in the sun and chatting with her while we waited for the divers and Courtney dove off the boat over and over again. We had been told the trip would include two dives, one at the volcano and one at the marine reserve in front of the dive base. The boat took us back to the base and then we were once again on our own. The tour guides gave all their attention to the divers who had to refill their air and about 10 minutes later we asked someone who told us where to swim to if we wanted to see the marine reserve.

Courts had already given up and gone snorkeling in the shallows by then so I joined him and together we swam out to a flag on a buoy. The water was a lot choppier with the small boat traffic around the wharf and I found it a lot harder to get my confidence up. For some reason my natural instinct when I hear water sloshing over the top of my snorkel is to take a deep breath in. Not so smart, but unfortunately not easy to teach myself otherwise.

I made it to the buoy however, passing a sunken wooden dinghy and eventually coming across a huge section of rock. Some of it you could stand on but it was hard to keep balance in the choppy water so I did my best to float around. There were way more fish here, including a few rainbow coloured ones. Nothing big, but very cool. In the choppy water I got tired quite quickly so I swam back and dried out in the sun while Courts watched crabs and small fish in the seaweed closer to shore.

We chose this dive shop because it was 25 Euro each for 2 dives and the other dive shop we found was 35 Euro each for 3 dives so we saved ourselves money. The snorkeling was awesome fun but I don’t know if Santorini Dive Centre gave us value for money in the end. Either way we were hungry and with our groceries sitting at home we made our way back to camp for lunch.

The rest of the day was pool side again. We could get used to this.