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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Day 1: Christmas Eve, 2007

For some reason, I thought that the Virgin Islands was 5 hours ahead of California, so I'd set the alarm clock accordingly. Of course, we were blissfully unaware of how early we were, even as we walked into the hotel lobby to put some valuables into the hotel's safe deposit box and roused a ferry captain who happily gave us directions to places to eat before dropping us off on the main island. It was only as we wondered around finding place after place closed that I realized that I must have set the clock an hour earlier than I had to.

The early morning was beautiful, however, and I was pleased to find that the temperature did not change much morning to night. We had breakfast at the Avocado Pitt, where the man behind the counter offered us a coupon for a Kayak tour.

We walked down to the dive shop at Dive experience, where we bought masks, snorkel, and other dive gear and got ourselves fitted with fins, buoyancy control devices, and filled out form after form. We were introduced to our first day's instructor, Craig, who would lead us through the confined water work.

When I was working through the PADI on-line course, the words confined-water work brought up images of a swimming pool at a resort hotel and running through the exercises in a leisurely fashion, perhaps with a food-break in between. So I was surprised when we were instead led down to the boat, where we met with certified divers going out on a serious dive trip. It turned out that our confined water work was to be off the Cay that we were staying at, in the salt water. The work was thorough, but it was by no means leisurely. We basically blazed through all the work in 4 or 5 hours, and by the end of it we were quite cold, despite our wet suits, which we needed despite the balmy eighty degree water. I threw up once, mostly because I swallowed a bit too much sea-water, but since I felt much better after throwing up, that didn't bother me at all. Lisa threw up for the same reason.

When we were finished, I was quite tired, and we could not do much but go back to the hotel, eat a quick lunch, take showers. After taking our showers we discovered that the forecast of winter rains were real, and saw a couple of beautiful rainbows. We then did some grocery shopping, and then start looking for a place to eat. We discovered that there was a real shortage of open restaurants opened. A tip from the bartender at the Hotel, however, was that on Christmas Eve, DeAnna's was the place to visit. We got directions from the ferry man an walked into DeAnna's annual customer appreciation dinner --- the buffet cost only $10, and the food was delicious. An impossibly bright full moon greeted us after dinner, making the night perfect.

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