An event packed day from David

Every day is worthy of blogging, throughout this series of posts you will learn about a lot of fantastic experiences we had together. Ask us more and we shall tell you the endless fun we had.

Everyone knows there are tons of caves anybody can explore in the lower 48 states no matter your level of claustrophobia. There are also some amazing lava tube tours in Hawaii that should definitely be on the bucket list. Coming in to this vacation I did not do as much research as I had hoped, busy with other things. I watched a few videos on Dads Ipod, boarded a plane, and hoped for one hell of a tour guide who spoke English. I caught wind of a lava tube tour from our many conversations and became very glad I threw in my head lamp. The Isla Santa Maria or Floriana was the fifth day of our cruise. It was our last snorkel adventure, our volleyball adventure, as well as our lava tube adventure. I cannot pick my favorite day to write to you about because they were all amazing, I will however describe to you some of the amazing activities we partook of on this day December 29th.

All of our snorkeling was done in heavy current, this day was probably the strongest of them all. We drifted around the western edge of two closely huddled islands. The fast moving current left me with an empty feeling that our last snorkeling adventure was to be only ten minutes long. To my relief we rounded the current sheltered south east side of the western island then pushed our way through light current until at the north east side of this island. We saw schools of Angel fish, rays, nice coral with micro crabs and colorful algae. At this point our expert naturalist coaxed us to continue as he headed straight east to the eastern island maybe forty to fifty yards away. The catch was the current was funneled between the two islands like a raging river. A small rock just left of center offered an eddy where I poked my head out to find everyone else either already in the boats that followed us fifty yards back or a few people in-between the boats and I struggling in the strength of the current, seeing as how Luis had made it across I pushed forward realizing I would have to swim mostly into the current in attempting to reach as closely as possible to the north end of the eastern island. With fins and full breast stroke I reached just below the north side of the island and found three giant porcupine puffer fish, aside from that I was just excruciatingly tired, rounding the southern end of this island the boat dropped-off the others to find a spotted Moray eel. We also overcame obstacles during this snorkel as our new New York friend over came a shark phobia as Luis said, “I go move a the shark” in his rich Spanish Island accent we all grew comfort in. He proceeded to go tickle the tale of a white tip shark sleeping under a rock so we could all see it.

Onwards to the mainland we were off to our adventure in the lava tube.

Our land excursions always started with a wet or dry landing, this one would prove to be more hydrated than anyone had anticipated. More details to follow. We began just a short walk from shore at the infamous mailbox that was established in the 1700’s. We opened the door of what looked like an old whiskey barrel with a hat (see Kathy’s post) to find a zip lock full of postcards. No stamps, only addresses, and in some cases “hold for pickup”. We all were handed a stack to sort through, with California, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin all represented. We all searched for addresses which could be hand delivered as has been the tradition since its establishment. With some here and there we all found some close enough to continue the tradition, and we all had fun looking through the world of addresses before us.

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As we continued away from shore and up the hill scattering lava lizards and squawking boobies led the way to a hole in the ground with a ladder sticking out of it. Headlamps dawned, 16 of us descended the two flights of ladders/stairs before crawling through a small opening into a dark abyss. Our eyes adjusted and we continued on another 20 flat-ish yards until meeting another flight of stairs/ladder leading us into still darker territory. At the bottom of this flight the hallway we walked through opened up into a cathedral room with a 40-foot ceiling. A truly ‘spelunkfull’ experience we continued on through another hallway leading to a room with water up to our knees, and at the far end was nearly pinched off by a VW sized boulder. With all 16 of us together Luis instructed us “ok you go swin on the other side and have good luck for the year.” Well who doesn’t want that? Many of us documented as a few of us found the crawl space with thigh deep water to the other side of the VW sized boulder, nearly as soon as the room opened up our headlamps showed us how soon the ceiling pinched off at water level. A good 40 feet long and a tapering 15 to 5 feet in width, we explored just how deep our pool of luck was. The further from the VW we walked the deeper the water got and the shallower the ceiling became. At the point of pinch we eerily treaded water with plenty of room to kick our feet. Not knowing what lay below and with no snorkel gear or underwater lighting it was kinda creepy, probably a cave divers paradise as the lava tube undoubtedly continued down somewhere below our kicking feet. It may not have been the biggest cave I have ever been in but it was very unique, formations unlike I had ever seen and with a wonderful group of people.

The Lava tube entrance.

The main cathedral room with upwards of 60ft ceiling.

We hiked back to the beach and attempted to snorkel. The visibility went down to almost nothing, scary almost as we swam in and out I found my vulnerable face and nose nearly inches from sharp rocks. Giving up on snorkeling a few of us sun bathed on the beach with others headed to the Volleyball courts. The volleyball courts had been erected as a relief for boat crewmembers to challenge other boats and get some much-appreciated exercise, and as we were so fortunate and lucky with our crew, they invited us to play with them. One caveat, Ecua-volley as its been coined by some is played with a soccer ball not its lighter cousin the volleyball. Keeping that in mind I lost 3 of the 3 games I played and walked away with bruised wrists and sore ligaments between my thumb and hand. However I felt like a winner because of the fun we had and the great crew who welcomed us on to their courts.

Our amazing crew dressed in our Pirate hats.
From left to right: Daniel, Tito, Juan Carlos, Emilio, Luis, Daniel, Francisco.
And in the front: Juan.

Volleyball on the beach.

The next adventure we experienced was directly associated with the wet landing we prepared for. Daniel our youngest crewmember whom we had been playing volleyball with had anchored our zodiac probably 75 yards out in he surf, he proceeded to swim out to get the boat after our multiple games of volleyball. He started to strategically bring the boat in to pick us up, as the surf had pick up quite a bit this was slow going. When the boat finally got to shore we waited as a wild set of waves rocked the boat making it impossible to board. These boats which carted us around day after day were probably 15-foot, v-hulled boats with inflatable sides. Alex managed to quite literally jump on as he blew out a sandal just after the heavy set of waves pushed the boat close to dry land. The rest of us attempted to very swiftly follow in his o-so-graceful footsteps. Just as the second to last person boarded, the next heavy set of waves was upon us, and since the boat was now fully weighted we met the definition of a wet landing. Instead of the waves bucking the bow of the boat skyward, our weight held the boat down forcing the waves over the bow and all over us. After helping the last person on and passing our cameras towards the less wet back of the boat we pushed off and met the next few waves head on. After exiting the worst of the surge we looked back at the crashing waves and joked about the new found definition of wet landing.

One of our trusty steeds we mounted multiple times a day.

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