Diving in the sea, diving on the volleyball court, diving into some beers! That pretty much sums up our day.
But what a let-down the actual diving experiences are. Firstly when we arrive we are ushered by Francisco (the dive guide we agreed the details of our experience with) to go have a coffee after being convinced that visibility is poor today and a snorkel with the sea lions would be a better option than the dive we agreed to yesterday. We accept pretty readily as he´s the expert and the price he quoted was no different. Over coffee (oh did we say, Marcel also chose this dive centre and joins us) Marcel asks what price we got in the end and then returns to the shop as the owner promised him he´d match whatever price we got. We don´t leave till around 10ish, though disappointingly there are now 8 of us. So much for exclusivity promised in our agreement. Other than yet another let down – Francisco being more interested in those paying for photo´s (oh did we say as well as the numbers jumping up to 8, he was also the photographer) we can say we had some success in that there were actually sea lions swimming around about us. Pretty close too, one actually took a bite of Fi´s flipper. Bernice upset Francisco by pointing out the flaws in his promises which he didn´t take too kindly to. Saying he only promised the small group had we dived with the sea lions. A minor misunderstanding then?! He got so uptight he even stopped taking photo´s though it wasn´t clear the others noticed. Oops, bad timing then!
On the way back on the boat to pick up the dive equipment for the wreck dive Francisco had obviously thought a bit more about how he reacted and went as far as to promise everyone photo´s of the dive (we´re now down to 5).
The following events offered further disappointment but to be expected in hindsight if we´d been seeing the signs. None of us had been asked for the details of our PADI qualifications. None of us had seen any of the equipment as yet, none of us has been asked about sizes, or weights. The equipment was all just loaded on the boat and we were taken to the sight where we were one by one brought out of the boat canopy, bundled into our gear and directed over the side. There was no equipment checks, no buddy checks, no talk through of the dive, nothing. None of the PADI protocols were followed. It was as if we were going on a try dive, albeit a bad one.
Fi has done close to 80 dives, so even though we were both newbies and not sure what to expect away from the training, she was shocked. She´s never had an experience like this before. She had been forced into an XSML BCD and wasn´t happy. Bernice wasn´t happy when she got in the water either, alerting Francisco to the fact she didn´t feel she was getting enough air from her regulator. He treated her like she was panicking which didn´t seem to be the case. Fi also insisted that her regulator wasn´t working that it was free-flowing, but all he gave back was “there´s nothing wrong with the equipment, it gets used every day”!! Nice!
Bernice got to the bottom saw the wreck but came back up almost immediately as she was still struggling – to the extent she swapped to her emergency regulator on the way back up. Francisco followed her up but then said he had to go straight back down with the others (the ratio is 5:1 even though there are two other guys on the boat, we thought for a while one was coming down too, should have, that way the group would always have a guide if split rather than some floundering while others are being taken care of. Not long after Bernice surfaced Huw came up – he´d run out of air! They´d hardly been down 20 minutes at this point. Later it transpired that air was seen leaking out the back of his tank and in hindsight he´s not sure it was full to begin with. When Fi and Marcel came up with the other guy not long after, they didn´t look to happy either. Visibility had been really poor from the off and they hadn´t seen much of the wreck, but enough to see it was pathetically small and hardly worth a visit. Fi was stunned. Francisco passed no comment on the way back to the shore, he just got off the boat as quick as he could and disappeared, no “goodbyes”, no “good to meet you”, no “hope you had a good day”, no thanks for choosing Lobo Larson”, nothing. Very Shoddy.
Notch that one up to experience then! It´s ok though, we head off for lunch from the empanada shop and make up for it by joining the locals (don´t ask, don´t get) for a game or three of volleyball on the beach. It was great fun. Oh and did we mention we were busy talking to Marcel about how liberal it was over here, being able to drink beer at the beach (with our lunch you understand) when the ol´bill came by on his bike and we were forced to ditch nearly a whole litre. Doh! We weren´t for arguing he had a shooter!
After wearing ourselves out with the volleyball and Bernice taking a blinder on the face we retreat to a bar this time for a much earned beer. Where we chat and make a plan to all go back to Marcel´s hostel for dinner. We kinda lose track of the time though and befoe we know it it´s midnight before we eat. There´s Spanish time, then there´s kicking the arse out of it time!! On the up side the foods great – Marcel makes us heaps of Steak Milanesa and we meet Anya, Beatrice and Fiona. We´re glad of the walk back to ours, as it helps us walk some of it off before bed.