19.3184 ° N — 69.3375 ° W
Many are the divers among us. Consequently, we never fail to organize underwater escapades with each trip. Exploring the nearby sea floor is such a pleasure. Well, almost.
The game plan
Samaná is nowhere near the island’s more renowned dive sites, so it's usually necessary to take a bus ride all the way to the southern part of the island. There can be found the elusive diving clubs. However, we need to take into account Jeff, Locomotive’s vice-president of diving operations. Upon returning from a scooter adventure in the nearby town of Las Terrenas, he unveiled a plan hatched with two local instructors. Early the next day, we are to be picked up, tossed in the back of their pick-up truck and taken to a neighbouring beach. All aboard a very fast boat, we hang on tight for an hour's ride on the sea all the way to a suitable area where we will dive twice. Be back by 4 p.m. at the latest.
Panic? What panic?
Riding in the back of a pick-up truck in the cool morning air, with the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces, the day is looking to be sublime. Things take a turn when we get to the beach and see our boat. First discovery: the boat has no shelter on deck. We're looking at hours at sea with a merciless sun above us. Second discovery: the boat reeks of gasoline. It's simply “a little problem with the motor” we are told. A little problem that will become much larger after an hour on choppy seas, when hearts are aquiver. Heat, gas fumes, sea-sickness. Tempers heat up quickly and patience falls overboard.
The calm after the storm
Fortunately, as anyone who has dived before can tell you, once underwater peacefulness returns. Our spirits and bodies find balance at last, soothed by the sound of our breathing. Enveloped in an immense blue world, wonder and awe leave very little room for frustration. We are one with this world that stretches out before us, spellbound by the colours and shapes and bubbles that dance their wau up to the surface. All is forgotten and the dial is reset. We are truly lucky, seeing as our return trip looms. We'll be back at 4… um, no, 6 p.m., once more accompanied by the stench of gas all the way home.
Spearfishing or quarrelling?
For the first time, we brought spearfishing equipment along, to hunt lionfish. This fish, native to the Indo-Pacific, quickly invaded the Caribbean and Atlantic to such an extent that it is now the target of culling campaigns. Though beautiful in appearance, with its black and white striped fins resembling feathers, it remains a fish to be reckoned with. Without predators in these latitudes and reproducing rapidly, it quickly destabilized its new ecosystem. It is apparently delicious but the size of its poisonous fins, relative to the size of its body, convinced us to forgo the experience. For now...