SUNDAY – 30 October
So why come back to Taganga? Well first, please refer to my previous recommendation of a Systema Solar music video. But also, I got such a kick out of diving that I decided I would return to get my advanced certification in open water scuba while I was still in the area. My Open Water SDI certification allowed me to dive up to 18 meters with a basic understanding of the equipment. The advanced would allow me to dive up to 30 meters, give some more skills in buoyancy control, and allow me to dive in most conditions in the world. So on Sunday morning, I went back to Reef Shepard and we went out on my first two advanced dives. Leo was my new instructor and I did some compass navigation techniques as well as navigating my way back to the boat.
In the afternoon, I got caught up on some writing (you’re welcome), took a little rest, and checked to see what Milena was up to. We watched a few scenes of a movie called “Guten Tag, Ramon” and then, feeling inspired by a scene where he makes dinner in his basement, decided to have a dance party with Mexican music and cook tacos. We did the grocery shopping together; a good thing because the last time I was sent out to get 2 bananas, I came back with 1 platano because “these bananas looked so big”.
MONDAY – 31 October
Happy Halloween! I felt like the holiday was already over after the parties on Saturday and after seeing a steady stream of friends’ costumes back home on social media. Even though I am enjoying my life in Colombia, I did have some longing to wear our annual group costume with the Carpool. This year we would have likely been either a car wash or the third annual Wes Anderson team costume.
My morning involved a whole lot of lounging in the hammock, the first morning that I didn’t get up before 8:00. In the afternoon, I went out with our dive team around 2 PM. We did a deep dive (30 m) where I solved some puzzles to prove that I could handle the effects of nitrogen narcosis. We did some advanced buoyancy techniques which involved swimming through hoops, balancing upside down, and running on the ocean floor. We took a lot of pictures with the GoPro but ideally there are some more pictures pending from my Danish and Swiss friends’ cameras.
After the two afternoon dives we took a rest on one of the Tayrona beaches. Chicken flavored potato chips and Chocoramo cakes never tasted so good. From the boat in the water, we watched the sun go down at El Cantil, Tayrona as we prepared for the final dive of the certification: the night dive. As the sun started sinking, we descended with flashlights in hand. The water was fairly clear in this area, but all we could see was the beam of light that shone from our flashlights. An awesome feeling that required increased awareness of our 3D space. The reef was a different place at night. Trumpet fish were sleeping, the coral had revealed all types of tendrils reaching out to feed, and a whole host of fish I hadn’t seen before were out to play. One particularly creepy moment was scanning the reef wall to see fish, rock, rock, fish, coral, fish, LITTLE BOY ANGEL STATUE! Yikes. A grave for a little boy that had been placed at about 10 meters. Only on Halloween. Just before ascending to the surface we all turned out lights off to see the the bio-luminescent plankton glow all around our bodies. I rode back in the dark to Taganga now qualified as an advanced diver and feeling giddy again about my life.
SUNDAY – 1 November
My last day in Taganga. Tomorrow I will fly to Medellin and start some courses in Spanish. Desperately needed.
I spent my last day with Milena on her day off going to Bahia Concha. Not very hard to reach from Taganga. Only 2 buses and then a motorbike ride down to the beach. Pro tip: if a motobike ride costs $5.000 and you’re both skinny, you can negotiate down to $8.000 for the two of you to ride on one bike. The beach was gorgeous but sorry I have no pictures of my own. You are welcome to view at google.com
That night I organized my bag in preparation to fly the next day and took one last visit to Jimmy’s for some grilled meat. I could have gone out in the evening to celebrate my last night here but I was already feeling a bit nostalgic for a place I hadn’t left yet. Before starting my trip, I had never heard of Tagana, Reef Shepherd Dive School, or Villa Mary Hostel. None of them were part of “the plan”. And it certainly pays to plan: it can help you to avoid dangerous situations, you can bring the right supplies, and you can make your travel more cost effective. But be wary of over planning. If I stuck to “the plan” I would have spent exactly one week in Cartagena. Then I would have flown directly to Medellin and started Spanish classes. I’m sure I would have been happy… but I would have never seen Taganga, nor spent time with the Reef Shepherd family nor felt so at home in Villa Mary. So plan, plan away; but let the plan bend to the will of your journey. You will find yourself in strange places, you will find yourself doing things that you’ll never do again, and you may find yourself here…