Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2013, Day 322 - Grazing

This morning Evi left and because she had an early flight and I am a light sleeper I didn't make it back to bed after her departure.  So I spent the wee hours of the morning catching up on world events, the news, and social media.  In the span of a few hours I was pretty caught up and Francene was up so we decided to head out to Akumal.

Akumal is a small beachfront town whose name means "place of the turtles" because it is where the a favorite refuge for green sea turtles.  What makes it such an ideal location is that it is a protected bay so the waters and calm and shallow allowing ample foraging area for the turtles and fresh water meets the ocean here which provides an ideal nursery habitat for young fish.  It was quite early when we arrived and the dive shop that was recommended to us was just beginning to show signs of life.  A nice gentleman greeted us and we inquired about snorkeling.  He told us he could take us immediately and because there was only a couple of other people there and the cashier hadn't arrived we could just pay afterwards.  At this point he introduced himself as Antonio but told us everyone calls his "Cholo" because his mother used to dress him like a cholo when he was a kid.

We were outfitted with mask, snorkel, fins, and life jacket and walked out onto the beach.  It was an easy entry and there is almost no surf so it couldn't have been more simple.  Once in chest deep water Cholo had us gear up and off we went.  The weather has been stormy for most of the last week and today was the best visibility they've had in a couple of weeks.  Here the ocean floor is white sand and the water is a clear rich blue.  Within minutes there were fish surrounding us, darting in and out of the coral, soon after we had our first turtle sighting.  She was grazing contently on the grasses growing on the ocean floor and swam within a few feet of me to surface for air and then dived back down to continue browsing.

In the hour and a half we spent in the water we saw a lot of different animals.  Mostly colorful fish, some sea urchins, a few large rays, a number or turtles, and at the end we even passed through a school of sardine.  It was was a lot of fun and exciting to see the animals up close without causing them any distress.  None of them fled as we approached and once we got close we just floated in the current and watching.  I'm glad we made the time to come, it was a lot of fun and made for a really pleasant morning.

Once we were back on the beach we returned our gear, rinsed ourselves off, paid, and thanked our guide.  Our next stop was breakfast in Playa del Carmen.  We stopped off at a place on the main street because we were told the food was good.  Our breakfast was quite pleasant but I didn't like being on the tourist strip, there are a lot of really pushy people trying to get you to look at what they're selling.  Even if I liked their wares their approach is so unpleasant I probably wouldn't buy anything from them on principal.

After breakfast we stopped by the grocery store to get a few things for dinner.  Francene and I are making a concerted effort to spend as little as possible at the hotel because they gouge you.  We had some leftover fish so we bought some tortillas, cheese, cabbage, avocado, and some hot sauce.  There, dinner is sorted.  With that we headed back to the hotel and by this time it was early afternoon.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing.  We did a little packing to make sure everything would still fit; surprisingly enough we bought very little so everything should be fine.  While we were sitting at our computers we checked in for our flight and tried to secure better seats with mixed success.  And when we finished all that it was time to relax in the pool.  Fortunately there weren't many people and by the time we left it was about time to heat up our dinner.

Now we're double checking everything so that when we leave before dawn almost no thinking will be necessary.  And on that note I am going to start wrapping things up for the evening.  Below is one of the turtles we saw today and on its back is a remora.

Nikon 1 AW1, Nikkor 11-27.5/f3.5-5.6
20.5mm, f9, 1/250 sec @ 160 ISO

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