Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2009 Freediving World Championships: Sunday November 22. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERTA!

Roberta and I used to live on a little island called Vieques, in between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Back then it was a quiet little place: 7,000 residents, no hotels, no golf courses, not a single stoplight on the island. I always thought that Vieques was a sleepy little island, but compared to Long Island it was a freakin’ metropolis! My initial impression about this being a small island were confirmed when I tried to find a payphone to call Roberta on her birthday (my cellphone doesn’t work here because they don’t have a CDMA network). I drove up and down the only road on the island and tried to use six different payphones, none of which worked. Panicking, I started asking everyone about wireless connections, hoping that I could Skype Roberta. I was met with sympathetic shakes of the head: everyone was waiting for some kind of internet access to be set up for visiting competitors. In desperation, I knocked on Sebastian Naslund’s (the competition organizer) door, and he graciously let me use his laptop to sign on to Skype and contact Roberta. After all of that, all I got was the answering machine!

We also had our first visit to the Blue Hole today, and it was pretty impressive. At first glance, the hole is much smaller than I imagined: it’s maybe 40 metres wide and tucked into a little cove. However, once you stick your face in the water it’s a different story. The sand quickly slopes from knee-deep down to about 8 metres at the lip of the hole: from there it’s nothing but blackness. As you dive down, the hole actually opens up with a series of overhangs where schools of tarpon like to hang out. From the wall of the hole you can see the competition and warm-up lines with all of the divers going up and down.

It was an unofficial training day for the athletes, so the atmosphere was relaxed as we did some dives and introduced ourselves around. We met several divers from Sweden, Russia, Denmark, New Zealand, and France. After our warm-ups Doug and I performed safety for those who asked. In the evening, Will, Herbert, and Rob cooked us a fantastic fish curry. Tired from a long day of diving, we got to bed early in anticipation of another day in the hole.

The Blue Hole

Performing safety for Christian Maldamé of France

Doug showing off the flag on the house

Will Winram (Canada) chopping onions

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