Sunday, December 10, 2006

The best so far

i've finally managed to leave the amazing ice cream counters of Barriloche and i'm now on the Atlantic coast in Puerto Madryn. Here there are no mountains (obviously) but its lovely to be by the sea again (which i haven't seen since august in Columbia). The coast is rugged, windswept, beautiful and not at all like the carribean coast- it is also home to much wildlife; sealions, right whales, seals, killer whales, penguins, dolphins, andina foxes and armadillos, to spot this wildlife it is necessary to take a tour. Whilst looking into which tour to take we stumbled across another option- to dive with the sealions. Guess what we decided to do?
It was absolutely amazing!
We arrived at the dive shop first thing in the morning and met the other 5 people diving with us and head off towards the sealion colony. After about 25minutes boat ride we arrived just off shore from a fairly large sealion colony and the sea lions immediately began to jump off the rocks into the ocean and come to investigate us in the boat whilist we were suiting up as quickly as possible and one by one splashing over the edge into the icy waters.
As soon as i entered the water there were sealions everywhere, and they unlike me under the waeter, they are incredibly graceful and very inquisitive. We all descended together and the sealions with us- above, below and all around. I felt something on my hood and looked up to come face to face with a cheeky sealion taking a nibble, which straightaway somersaulted and with a flick of his tail was gone. I must admit is was slightly disconcerting that often i would look around unable to move a body part and find that i had a sealion attached! but i think that to them it was just a game- so were almost pet-like and would allow me to stroke their stomachs or grab my arm between their two front paws. Everyone else seemed to be finding it as amazing as I and our time underwater flew by, and when we resurfaced noone could stop talking about just how friendly they had been, but also just how cold the water had been- my face was numb where it was exposed to the water!
But we didn't have much time for warming up, some soup and chocolate biscuits (not dipped in one another i add) as the boat took us to our next dive sight. The second dive was not at a sealion colony but at a wreck site. This is a new experience for me (well actually most of the diving is), and being by far the least experienced diver on the boat i was a little nervous- about the depth, the water temperature, the wreck, well most things about the dive really. We soon reached the wreck, suited up and jumped in again.
We followed a rope down and the deeper we got i could definately feel the temperature drop off very quickly, once at the wreck it should have been possible to see huge salmon swimming beneath it but alas they were not around so we explored the wreck somewhat- i wasn't allowed inside (not enough experience) and the visibility wasn't too good, looking off inot the distance i couldn't seefar into the green gloom that enveloped us. At this depth (25m- by far the deepest i have dived) i was using up my oxygen quickly and everyone was getting cold so we didn't stay down long- found the rope again and slowly made our way to the surface and then back to shore for a well deserved hot drink.


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