We ended up diving with Colona for the rest of the week, five days in all. So the agenda for these days pretty much matches Monday: Get up at 6:30 and get ready. Wait in the lobby for the Colona bus, and watch the poor Emperor Divers guy look in vain for his party before taking off without them (really, this happened every day). Take the bus to Colona, get our stuff and put it “on the donkey”, get on the boat. Gear up, dive, set up gear for second dive, eat a delicious, freshly prepared warm lunch, dive again, back to Colona and on the bus back to Les Rois, where we arrived at about 5:30 each evening.
The boat Calypson brought us to our first site for Tuesday, El Desha. We joined five other divers with DM Bart for this dive over a coral garden and along a reef wall. There was a bit of difficult current on the way back to the boat. I used the camera again. This was my least favorite dive. Arthur and I were a bit chaotic in our buddy check and entered the water hastily, as all of the other divers were already in the water and waiting for us. We both started our descent with our snorkels in our mouths and resurfaced after choking on the extremely salty water. During the dive I had a lot of trouble with my buoyancy and thus saw hardly anything, but I also didn’t miss much, as on this dive there were the least fish to see. We did see our first Diadem Sea Urchin and a very big Batfish towards the end of the dive.
On the second dive, two of the divers from our first group were in a class, so they did a course dive. Bart told the other three to buddy up together and swim around the site, El Helous. So it was just me and Arthur with Bart. I felt kind of bad about this, but we didn’t show Bart a lot of great skill on the first dive so of course he was right to not let us dive on our own. This dive went a lot better. I moved the weights around on my belt (it’s amazing how having one weight just a half inch in the wrong place can completely screw up your buoyancy) and was much more stable throughout this dive. The site is an O-shaped reef, with a small opening where you can swim through to get on the inside of the O. The opening was a bit shallow (3 to 4 meters deep) and narrow (for us newbies anyway) but we made it through without any problems. During our swimming safety stop at the end, we could feel waves pushing us around (we were at about 3 meters), which was a bit disconcerting. On this dive we saw a very small red starfish, Blue-Spine Unicornfish, and some very big table corals.
After resting back at the hotel, we walked to the nearby vera pizza parlor, run by an Italian couple. We each ordered a pizza margarita and enjoyed it very much. It was pretty close to genuine Neapolitan pizza, without the real buffalo mozzarella and with dried basil leaves instead of fresh. A group of Colona DMs sat at another table and left shortly after we arrived. Then we walked back to Cinnabon, where we ordered four Minibons to have for breakfast on Wednesday and Thursday morning.