WOW. Where do we even begin with yesterday?!? First, I must reassure the moms; there was no shark attack yesterday except one, which was the name of Matt's drink at the bar. No worries! Yesterday morning we got an early start and headed off to Sam's Dive shop for our 3rd and 4th dives of the trip. These dives were the final certification dives for Sara, Matt, and me. This means that as of yesterday, we are now PADI certified divers! (yay!) We really didn't have any skills to complete, so we just got to do fun dives with the rest of the boat, but under Joedyn's close supervision.
The boat ride was about 45 minutes through Palau's rock islands, which is about the most beautiful scenery you can get! The seas were pretty choppy, but our driver, Jake, is an ace. We were originally going to do Big Drop Off and German Channel, however the seas were too choppy for those sites so we headed onward to the world famous Blue Corner. (Look that one up, Leslie! WOW!) It was absolutely the most incredible thing I have ever seen in my life. We descended along a wall to about 60 ft, and "drift dove" from there. The current is very strong at Blue corner, so we just float along with it, watching the scenery as we go by. There were thousands and thousands of fish. The fish were everywhere; above us, below us, right next to us - everywhere. And the sharks! There were too many sharks to even count! The two main types were grey reef (gigantic) and white tip (smaller). One would think that it would be scary to swim among sharks, but really they were like any other fish. They just went on their merry way, and pretty much ignored us. At one point along our dive we "hooked in" to the top of the reef to hold ourselves stationary in the current and watch everything go by. It was just incredible. Afterward we swam on top of the reef to head the other direction (again, with the current) and caught more sharks sleeping on the floor, plus lots more fish.
After surfacing we had lunch in a cove on the boat. At one point we overheard Joedyn talking to Jake, explaining that we three were referrals (students), and Jack exclaimed, "And you took them to Blue Corner for their first dive?!? They will never dive again!" This was meant in 2 ways: 1 - it's a pretty advanced dive and 2 - it's such an incredible dive that nothing else will live up to our expectation! I don't care. I'm just glad we got to do it!
After Blue Corner we had lunch in a cove on the boat and headed back out to Dexter's Wall for our 2nd dive of the day. Like Blue Corner, we were diving along a wall at about 60 ft, but in a far weaker current. This dive was also beautiful (I'm thinking that there is probably no such thing as a non-beautiful dive here) and we saw 2 sea turtles! One swam above us at a distance. Sea turtles are quite graceful swimmers. It was like an angel in the water. The second one parked itself on the coral right next to us, so we got to get up close to it. We also got a great photo underwater, which Tim posted on his blog last night (timpalaujournal.blogspot.com). I think we're going to submit that to the Alumni Association magazine. Go Blue!
On the ride back, we dropped off a girl on a really remote island who had not been diving with us and had just been along for the ride so far. Apparently she is an Aussie, and it looked like she and her mom were staying in a rental house on a really remote island. We boated through a really shallow area and beached the boat to let her off. While the main island where we are staying has no natural beaches, the island where we dropped her off was like the beach of your dreams - white sand, bluegreen water, and no civilization as far as the eye can see. We all got off on the beach and played around a little in a true tropical paradise. Later we learned that this island is the "Chief's Island" which is private, and we probably shouldn't have been on it. Oh well. It was worth it.
The ride back was gorgeous and windy and sunny, and perfect. At one point, Jake (the ace) "gunned it" through the stone arch that you see in almost every episode of Survivor Palau. I'd say it was just wide enough for the boat to fit through, and we did it at significant speed. Sweet.
After completing our paperwork for the certification we headed back to PPR (Tim's club) and drank fufu cocktails with umbrellas and fruit on the beach. We watched the sunset on the beach and then played hearts at our table in the light of tikki torches.
Yesterday was a day I'll always remember. It was incredible.
Katie's school experience...
So, at one point we were swimming over the reef and really close to this school of long silvery fishes. They were right next to where we were swimming so I decided to join them. I was swimming parallel to them and just tried to get closer but the kept getting further away and weren't very welcoming :-(.