Scuba Diving in Puerto Viejo
With no tour scheduled early this morning, Rayna and I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in. When we finally dragged ourselves out of our cozy beds here at Hotel Yare we headed to Puerto Viejo to check out some of the shops before our afternoon scuba diving lesson. (Rough life, huh?!)
After walking around the heart of town we found ourselves in front of Bread and Chocolate once again. Their chocolate is fantastic! I got a big mint-chocolate brownie to munch while we leisurely typed some notes on our laptops. Luckily, I happened to have my wireless device turned on and it recognized a provider in the area - Rayna and I were psyched! The access required a security code so we went in search of the Jungle Internet Cafe and discovered that it was just down the street.
Just a short walk from Jungle Internet Cafe, Rayna and I located Reef Runner Divers which have been in business for about three years. They offer tours for experienced divers as well as what they call discovery dives for people like Rayna and myself who lack prior experience. Jose, our master instructor, has been diving for fifteen years and immediately put us at ease with his friendly but authoritative teaching style. After a short, but thorough, instruction session on land it was time to suit up. I have to admit I was nervous at this point. Although I'm a great swimmer and extremely comfortable in the water, I was afraid I would forget the hand signals and freak out. But I put all the gear on anyway and we headed to the beach in front of the office.
As soon as we were in water up to our waists, we lowered ourselves onto our knees to practice breathing the compressed oxygen from our tanks. A couple of times I forgot to breathe through my mouth which was not good. My heart raced and it took me a couple minutes to relax and remember to only breathe through my mouth. Once I finally did relax, however, I entered a state of complete tranquility. It is wonderful to be underwater and alone with your thoughts; I have always loved that feeling.
After practicing some safety skills in the shallow water Jose led us out toward the reef. Just like snorkeling, I felt like I was in a National Geographic special, and I loved every second of it. We saw a lobster, a star fish "walking" along the sandy sea floor, as well as a ton of beautiful fish and coral. It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend. I definitely see diving in my future!
Our afternoon passed peacefully. For dinner, a little Thai place, Chile Rojo, on the main street caught our eye. Their menu boasted a list of specials that enticed us to get a table. Since we were not too hungry, Rayna and I split a fantastic Thai chicken salad and for the entree, a whole lobster served with coconut milk, yellow curry and lemon grass. It was absolutely superb, and if the description alone was not enough to persuade you, let me just say - you want to eat there! Oh, and their sangria was wonderful as well!
Back at Hotel Yare we had a chance to explore. With twenty one rooms, this is a relatively large hotel. All equipped with fans, ample space, and large comfortable beds, many of the rooms are private cabanas and offer a full kitchenette, as well as a porch and sitting area.