Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The End

The last evening was spent trying to extend the holiday. Once we got back from the SCUBA diving then I was on the phone to the travel agents. Then when the rep turned up then I badgered her. But it was all to no avail. The room, which had been available 24 hours earlier, was gone.

Such a great holiday ended then on a sad evening. Junior had to say goodbye to her new friends and there were more tears than I could believe. Junior had made friends on other holidays but never had it been so emotional. It made it hard.

The next morning was an early start. Bus, ferry, plane. Then getting off at Birmingham airport and seeing clouds for the first time in almost a week. Yep, that's England.

Not Quite Twenty Thousand Leagues

Another squeeze into the car, this time with wet but rapidly drying bottoms. The quick journey back to Skala Prinos, where we all pop out (peas and pod spring to mind). Juniors air tank needs a top up before we go - as it's smaller there isn't as much air in it. Then wade out to the boat. This time it's a RIB rather than the solid boat we had a few days ago. And getting in requires some flexibility that, with a combination of age, heat and wetsuit, does not come easily. The thought does cross my mind about how we will get back in later but there isn't much time for that. We bounce off across the waves towards the wreck of a ferry, sunk about 40 years ago. When we get there then we have to moor to a bouy, an exercise that turns out harder than might be expected and we all end up having a go, the waves repeatedly pushing us the wrong way. Finally we succeed.

On with the equipment and into the sea, one at a time. Junior is again the most elegant, but she does have an instructor looking after her personally. Regulators in and time to descend. We sink to the bottom of the sea, where we are surrounded by a field of seaweed, it's like being in long grass. We are all OK, we've made it down. Now we have to go through the safety procedures again. First Junior, who manages to get complete it. Next its J's turn. Not so easy. I know exactly what's going through her head, I had the same when I did this back at uni (before you start to think that this is a life skill for me, I never got out of the uni swimming pool). The brain just can't comprehend that it is possible to be underwater, and taking the regulator out of the mouth is a step too far. Sadly J had to return to the surface, but I still believe that technically she has been SCUBA diving in the sea.

Junior then indicates she would like to go back up but the instructor looks her in the eye and checks everything is OK. I can see her as well and there is no indication of panic so we go ahead with swimming, the instructor keeping one hand on Juniors tank. We swim around the wreck. No sign of octopi but some gigantic shellfish - if these turned up in your Moules Mariniere then you'd have quite a shock - and some beautiful blue fish (I may be colour blind but these were stunning). A wonderful experience and all too soon we are heading back to the surface (when I say all too soon, we paid for a two hour session but by the end of it we had had five hours at no extra cost).

Think back a couple of paragraphs. Remember how I thought briefly about getting back into the boat. Well I rather wished I had thought more about it. For Junior it was simple, light enough in weight to be helped in. Me, not so lightweight. No way anyone was lifting me in. The theory is simple enough, kick like fury and the flippers will spear you out like a flying fish. Hmm. No. I was more like a stranded whale. In all honesty I even sized up the swim back to shore. I am still not sure how I ever got back in. Finally I was in the boat, the instructor got in and we headed back. Waves coming over the side we took on water. Initially the instructor laughed, RIBs don't sink. Suddenly life became less jovial as he realised just how much water we had taken on. He slowed down, we rearranged ourselves to distribute the weight differently, and managed to make it back to the harbour.

An exciting experience with some wonderful people, we were lucky to find CAT and I recommend them to anyone. Junior did ask me, when no one else was around, why they wouldn't let her back up to the surface. I have explained that it was because she looked ok. There is a bit of me that feels guilty that Junior did this and says she was scared. But there is also a bit of me that is incredibly proud of her as she did so well. And when we got home and saw the photographs that they took while we were underwater, then she was also proud of what she had achieved.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Bubbles

It's our last full day here. Despite the fact that today is going to be an exciting one, there is a tinge of sadness as none of us want to go. Actually, last night I sent an email to the 24 hour help line asking if we could extend another week. 12 hours later and there is no reply and the chances of staying look remote.

Back to today and the oncoming adventure. 1030 hrs we are outside the hotel waiting for our lift. A Belgian driver turns up, yes we are off to CAT again, but this time for a SCUBA lesson. We all fit in the 4x4 and its a bit of a squeeze but Skala Prinos is only 5 minutes away. Which is lucky as I forgot to bring our snorkels and masks! OK, honestly that isn't quite as stupid as it sounds. J doesn't have a snorkel and mask so CAT were providing her with them, and I had assumed that they were providing them for all of us. What I hadn't realised was that Juniors was a better size for her than anything they had. So a quick journey back to the hotel and then we are ready.

Next to get kitted up. Junior is rapidly into her wet suit and looks resplendent. The two adults have a bit more of a struggle and I decide that, certainly for me, skin tight is not a good look. We put on the rest of the kit. I had forgotten how heavy this all is. Even though Junior has a small tank she is still finding it hard to stand. J is surprised that they need to load us up with extra weights, I am less surprised as I have a reasonable level of natural buoyancy aid!

This is supposed to be a two hour introduction into SCUBA. But owing to Juniors age they decide that first they will take us to a friends hotel so we can use their swimming pool for a practice. If squeezing in the car was difficult before, with all the kit we are almost bulging out the windows.

The residents at the hotel are somewhat shocked when four frogmen (frogpeople?) walk through their gate and descend into the swimming pool. It must be an amusing sight as we swim around practicing our flipper technique. Then to the deep end. We sink to the bottom, everyone managing to breath through the regulator. We then have to got through the safety techniques. Take the regulator out of the mouth, pit it back in and purge with a sharp exhale. Take the regulator out of the mouth, put it back in and purge with the air valve. Take the regulator out of the mouth, let go, lean right, windmill the right arm to find the regulator and replace in the mouth. Finally let water into the mask and then empty it by blowing out through the nose and tipping the head back.

Time to go back to Skala Prinos and out to sea.