Posts Tagged ‘Diving’

Finally, visitors!!!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I have posted anything, but life is pretty hectic in the Cairns Unlimited household and the days go by without us even realising. This post has been long due, and here it goes.

 After living in Australia for nearly two years, we finally had visitors from Spain visiting us. Well, we’re not counting my friend Jorge Rabadan and his wife, who came to Cairns on holidays, and since we were here already, met up with them a couple of times. We also booked a few tours for them. They were pretty happy with our service, as you can see in our referencias page. Since he now lives in LA, USA is much closer to Australia, so Jorge, you are welcome any time.

This time we have my very good friend Amaya with her family: her husband Luis and their two gorgeous girls, Sara and Ainhoa. They are the living proof that life doesn’t end when you become a parent. They are travelling around the world for a whole year. And since we threatened them that if they didn’t include Cairns in their schedule we would never talk to them again, they didn’t have any other option but visiting. They arrived on March 2nd!!!

Some of you may not think anything of it, but some of you will remember that we were looking for another home. And we found it, of course, but only two days before they got here. We packed everything as quickly as possible, rented UTE and moved houses ourselves. Gladly this time Steve didn’t pretend he was suffering from back pain, like he did when we moved to Yorkeys Knob, and I had to do most of the move myself .

We worked like maniacs for a couple of days, assembling furniture, buying what we didn’t have, which was actually many things, such a sofa, outside table or crockery but still had time to sit down and have a beer before going to the airport to pick them up.

I don’t know how long for Amaya and myself hugged each other. It was unbelivable to see them all in Australia. They were going to stay with us for a couple of weeks, which at the time seemed like we would have time to do many things together, but it just went so quickly…

The girls were happy just playing in the swimming pool and we seemed to be happy just sitting around the table, chatting and drinking wine. Remember three out of the four adults were Spanish, so sipping wine and going to be late was common those days. The neighbours on both sides were champions and not once did they complain about the noise.

One of the days they were staying with us we all went to Fitzroy Island. We had never been to Fitzroy Island before so we thought it was the perfect opportunity for every one to discover one of the many tropical islands off the coast of Cairns. And off we went, loaded with our fantastic digital underwater cameras. We practically had Nudey Beach to ourselves, a couple of times we saw someone else walking around, but most of the time it was just us snorkelling, sunbathing or eating. It is a beautiful island, the water is crystal clear and great snorkel. Luis and the girls even saw two turtles and a mantaray. In the evening, just before boarding the ferry to go back to Cairns we went to the hotel in the island (now closed until further notice) and saw this beautiful swimming pool, with a couple of fountains, so we had a swimm there. Again we were the only ones, but we soon found out that it was only a fountain and not a swimming pool.

Another day we all went to the Atherton Tablelands for the day. Apart from visiting some of the Tropical Wineries that are found in the area. Amaya and myself had already tried some of them at the Cairns Nightmarkets and since we both liked them, we decided to get some from one of the wineries.

Next stop was the termite nests close to one of the coffee plantations near Mareeba. They are absolutely impressive. The girls weren’t that impressed, though, so we thought they might like to see wild wallabies at Granite Gorge. We weren’t very lucky, it was a rainy day and all the wallabies decided to stay under cover. Nevermind, we made our way to Atherton because Amaya and the girls were very interested in minerals and the sort. And what better place than the Crystal Caves? Steve and myself had been there before and thought it was a pretty decent display of minerals, fossils, etc. But since we were there, Rene, the owner, now display the biggest geode in Earth. It reaches two metres easily and it’s very impressive. While amaya and the girls explored the museum, Luis, Steve and myself went for a coffee at a nearby cafeteria. That night they decided to make their way to Yungaburra and, with a bit of luck, see platypus. A shame we couldn’t go with them, but we were busy that same night and had to give it a miss. They were lucky and spotted platypus, one of the rare native Australian animals.

Another day Luis and Amaya went to visit Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas on their own, as we had offered to look after Sara and Ainhoa while they had a second, and short, honeymoon. You won’t believe how wonderfully behaved those two princesses are, it was actually a pleasure to have them with us. We took them to Toys RUS and when I offered to buy them a little present they refused. Later we took them to the Cairns Lagoon and not once I had to look for them, they were always where I told them to be.

Luis is a very keen diver and has dived all over the world. Since Steve is more of a dry man and I don’t have too many chances of going diving, we both decided to leave our partners at home and go on a Cairns liveaboard. The trip to the reef was very rough and half the passengers were seasick, even ourselves. But once we got to the first stop and got ready to jump, we all forgot our pains and enjoyed ourselves. The visibility wasn’t great during the whole trip, however, we still managed to see sharks, turtles and many different species of fish, including cute Nemo. It was also the first time I tried a night dive and even though I was a bit dissapointed I will try again, maybe the conditions will be better next time. It’s funny how some of the bigger fish have learnt that divers point their torches to other fish, so they follow divers all the way and as soon as they point their torches, these big fish whizz passed you towards the light and surprise, the cute little fish that was there a second ago is gone.

The next morning we had to be up at 5.30am to go for our morning dive. Luis was too lazy to get up although he says that he didn’t sleep at all that night. Haha. This time I went for a deep dive. It was supposed to be at 30 metres down and again, I was a bit dissapointed, we only went to 20 metres. Anyway, it was all beautiful, and it was one of the ones I enjoyed most. This time the instructor wanted to show us how at such great depth our senses are not so acute. We were given a blackboard with numbers from 1 to 20 mixed. We had to first touch our nose and then point to the numbers in a correlative order. It took us ages to do so. But the funniest bit was when the instructor tried to crack an egg open for us to play with it. Due to the pressure, the egg stays together. At least that’s what we were told, there was a fish which managed to crack both eggs open and eat the inside before we could realise what was happening.

However, the best dive was the one we did nearly in the surface. We also managed to stay underwater much longer, about 90 minutes. Absolutely beautiful. But the highlight of our trip was when we got back to Cairns and Amaya and the girls were waiting for us at the finger.

The last night we all had a great time. They had bought a few presents for us, but instead of giving them to us, they hid them all over the place and we had to find them using “hot” and “cold” as directions. Steve got a barbie set, with a beautiful apron and I got lots of nice things for the house.

Those two weeks went extremely quickly and suddenly it was time for them to keep on travelling. Japan, Hong Kong, India, South Africa and many other places before they arrive back in Spain. I hope they come back to Australia again. But for the meantime, we keep in touch by email and phone calls. And I guess we will see them in Madrid in a few months. By the way, if you are interested in their travels, they have a very interesting website, in Spanish, with lots of photos, called “Our trip around the world“.

Finally, I’m a Certified Diver!!!

Monday, December 1st, 2008

With Pete, my instructor, minutes after I had become certified Yes, I finally managed to have some time off to obtain my PADI Open Water Certification. After I did my two intro dives with Down Under Dive two weeks ago, it was in my mind wanted to become a certified diver so I could join some of my Aussie friends in their diving expeditions. It’a a shame I haven’t been able to convince Steve to scuba dive with me, so I had to do it on my own. Well, too bad for him!!!

I did the course with Deep Sea Divers Den and they were kind enough to let me do it over two consecutive weekends. The first two days were in the class and swimming pool, learning the theory and a few skills that we had to practise before going to the sea. And the second weekend we went to the Great Barrier Reef to practice those skills in the ocean and obtain our title. We left early on Friday morning, of course after delivering a few of our wonderful Cairns Digital Underwater Cameras. The first part of the day we spent on their day boat, having two different opportunities to dive. Apart from practising the skills, ie. how to breathe if your regulator falls off your mouth, what to do if you run out of air (scary, isn’t it?), etc, Pete, our instructor, took us for a fun dive as well. We saw lots of different corals and fish, including a Trigger Fish. They can be kind of dangerous if they feel threatened and their bite is painful. So we kept away from them as much as we could. And just as we were reaching the boat we spotted a turtle, slowly swimming around the divers, disappearing in the distance and coming back a few minutes later. Absolutely wonderful.

In the afternoon we were transferred to the overnight boat, where I was sharing a double room with another diver. The boat is really nice, with lots of room for everyone to feel comfortable. While they gave us a short briefing about what we were going to do for the next day, we were eating delicious freshly baked home made muffins, in fact, they were still warm. And five minutes to unpack because we were back in the water again.

The second reef for the day was Norman Reef. Again a bit of training and a leisure dive. By this time we were all feeling much more comfortable in our diving gear. You could tell by us not using our arms and hands as much as in previous dives. Being underwater is a funny feeling, wonderful, though. It’s as if I was in the space, with no gravity and being able to move whichever way I want.

Photo taken with one of our underwater cameras Relaxing just before dinner

And after that dive, time for a shower and relax before dinner. Delicious lasagna and fabulous apple crumble, which I ate lots of and couldn’t move afterwards. Lucky my dives for the day were finished, otherwise I would have sunk straight away. After dinner everyone on the boat got together for a few drinks and a bit of entertainment. The staff were multitasking, and the chef and the skipper were keeping us all entertained playing music and singing. I miss Spanish music, mostly because I cannot sing most of the songs they sing.

My fellow diver partnersThe alarm went off at 5.30am, so we could get ready for our final dive before we were certified. Early, isn’t it? But it was really nice to jump into the cool water, it was pretty hot outside already. And that was the end of our training, now I’m a certified diver and won’t need to pay someone to take me around every time I want to dive. What a feeling… I’ve discovered a passion for diving which I wished Steve shared with me, but that’s life. Although I don’t know how he’s going to take me going on liveaboards now and then. Only one night away and my inbox was full of messages telling me he missed me because he had nobody to laugh at his jokes. He’s always been appreciative of an audience.

But it was the last dive we’ll remember most. Already without a guide, we wandered off on our own. We knew the current to be strong, so tried to swim against it. We did for a while, but as we got more and more tired we just wouldn’t move and, worst of all, our air was getting low. We went to the surface and tried to reach the boat, which seemed far away. Ten minutes swimming and we were just as far. Ashamed, we signalled the boat to be picked up and they came rapidly. We were to hang on to some ropes and they would tow us back to the boat. But then the boat spotted someone in distress and had to go and rescue them first. Knowing that we were going to be transported to the boat, we let ourselves go and drifted for many metres. But luckily we were rescued, along with many other people, and that was the end of our little adventure.

The Great Barrier Reef!!!!

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Ready for a scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier ReefMany of our friends don’t believe us when we say that we don’t have time to do much. CairnsUnlimited.com, VisitarAustralia.es, but mostly our Cairns Digital Underwater Camera Rental business keep us busy every single hour of the day. But it’s unforgivable to live in this fabulous part of the world and not take advantage of its wonders. So when Down Under Dive, one of the many diving companies which visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, invited us to go on a day tour with them, we left all our responsibilities behind and got ready for a fun day out. About time, isn’t it?

Of course, taking a day off is not easy and we have to work extra hours the day before, getting the cameras ready for deliveries on the day after, replying to all the emails that were on our inbox, etc. And the morning of the cruise was an early rise as well, only to make sure everything was under control.

But finally we got down to the Reef Fleet Terminal, where we met some of the Down Under Dive crew and in no time we were on the boat, heading to the Outer Reef. We were treated like royalty, having the chance to do as much or as little as we wanted to. And to make the most of the day, we did as much as we could: snorkelling, diving, helicopter flight… I had the chance to do two introductory dives, the kind of dives that you do if you’re not certified, which I’m not. For all of you who come to Australia and want to try diving for the first time, don’t hesitate, it’s wonderful and fairly easy. My instructor Marcus (Steve decided that beer and diving weren’t compatible and he didn’t have the heart to abandon his best friend, called beer) gave us a brief before diving, where he explained in detail what you need to do in order to dive safely. And he also showed us a few hand signals, so we could always communicate with each other underwater. And once in the water he always kept an eye on everyone, I felt very safe and I recommend it to every one.

But apart from diving and seeing wonderful coral and fish, we also had plenty of time to go snorkel (it seems beer and snorkelling are not enemies. I think the reasons for Steve not diving are others, but he’ll never admit it). We saw some of the most incredible coral formations, colourful fish and impressive giant clams. Unreal how if you touch one of those clams, they will immediately close themselves to avoid attacks. Even Nemo was waiting for us.

Steve snorkelling at Hastings Reef My first intro dive in the Great Barrier Reef

After snorkelling, diving, talking to great people on the boat, sunbathing, eating and drinking, it was time to head home. And that was when Elvis took over the whole boat, singing, playing guitar, but mostly making people laugh. I couldn’t choose my favourite moment of the day, but Elvis’ show was one of the highlights. Only one complaint, he has to learn a song for the Spaniards.

And here you have some of our fav pics of that day. Of course, they were taken with one of our wonderful underwater cameras.

Wonderful fish we saw when snorkelling More fish on the Great Barrier Reef
Gian Clam The Great Barrier Reef from a helicopter scenic flight