Day 10 - Flop, Forms and Fiasco
Waking up after 0730, Matt recounted his short evening with the Germans at the CdlM after which we had a now standard breakfast and headed towards the beach. Slightly later than usual we were "forced" to catch a real taxi (read: one less likely to induce death e.g. coco-taxis) which turned out to be a modern, air-conditioned people carrier crossed with a tank. The ride to the beach was swift meaning we got to the dive hut in time to catch Leo. He impressed upon me that he would examining me during the morning dive and filling in the paperwork for the course I was apparently taking; this was probably also due to an inspection taking place of the dive hut and associated divers which made everyone involved slightly twitchy.
Gathering together and inspecting my equipment I lugged it onto the rowing boat and found out that the others in my group would be diving deep (beyond thirty metres) and moving through a tunnel, which after only three dives myself sounded worrying. The two Britons were back on this dive and we were to be led by Leo around a black coral reef known as the Black Wall. A little too eager to show my competence, I managed to put the wet-suit on incorrectly then applied too much force to my set of flippers, irreparably breaking one of them in the process. After this amazing display of aptitude we were underwater and moving as a group in no time; the sporadic checks by Leo usually caught me off guard, more often than not swimming vertically as opposed to horizontally or terminally fiddling with my petulant buoyancy jacket. Matt mentioned later that he had never seen anyone slouch while diving until he had seen me. Once again I ran out of air, despite my long and balanced breaths meaning once again I was attached to Leo by his secondary breather.
Surfacing incorrectly but without incident, I was back on the boat and mulling over how terribly the dive had gone when I caught Leo fiddling with the broken flipper which only cemented my view that things had gone less than brilliantly. After, what I assumed was a disastrous examination, I indicated I only wanted to do a single dive and Leo started running through the paperwork once back on shore with me. This involved explaining the intricacies of the log book and the license application as well as filling in some personal details. Following on from yesterday's "talk", I spotted the written test beneath Leo's hand; having never been taught any of the theory it would have been difficult to complete the test had Leo not vetoed this using his instructor authority. While it was good to hear the Leo had faith in my diving ability despite the morning's disastrous attempt, I got the distinct feeling that he was omitting the written test more because of the time it took and the effort involved rather than a solid belief in my ability.
Now 2pm, the second dive was already returning and I managed to slink off just as beers and boats were mentioned, deciding to explore Trinidad rather than succumb to the energy draining sun on the beach. Taking a jaunty yellow coco-taxi back to the casa for a swift change of clothes I headed off in the baking heat, starting my exploration in Plaza Mayor. Unlike the other Cuban towns I had visited, Trinidad was loaded with tourists of all types; Asian and European alike explored the winding side streets stuffed with a technicolour assortment of stalls selling everything from linen to doilies to hand-carved statuettes. After less than an hour of this one began to notice a distinct similarity to the items being sold, almost as if they were government-approved or perhaps less hand-made than they were claimed.
Taking few photos and just exploring the surprisingly small town, I stumbled across a one-room art gallery which housed an artist painting an excellent picture of a nearby archway, and the Casa de la Musica, once only found in the dark via a memorised route. It took on a different tone during the day, far more pleasant café than crowded bar. Even with my newly cleaned hat, my head was cooking in the sun and with none of the standard assortment of museums appealing I headed back to the casa for a shower, only to find the water supply in our room lacked any amount of pressure and the air-conditioner was malfunctioning (not surprising given the gung-ho approach to wiring practised in the room). It wasn't until later when I mentioned this problem to the English speaking tour-guide that she was able to discern it was the pump that plied our room with water. Why this also made the air-conditioner work I was mildly afraid to ask.
Nipping out before tea to stock up on bottled water once more, Matt returned in time for tea which he wolfed down, eager to commence the evening frivolities. The devouring of pork steaks was interrupted by a power brown-out, the lady of the house ready with candles for just such an eventuality. Matt had decided to go and see the girl he had been with on the beach, only to find that the piece of paper that had her address on was still in his shirt pocket, the same shirt which had been subject to a vigorous cleaning by the casa owner's wife. Picking apart the slightly damp, crumpled bit of paper, it wasn't until my memory for random tidbits came into play that Matt was off like a shot for Cassilda. In no time at all he was back, having discovered the girl was apparently in Sancti Spiritus (our previous port of call) until the next night.
Eager not to waste the evening, we both headed out to the Casa de la Musica which was heaving with tourists, all of whom I suspect had been wandering the town in droves earlier in the day. A troupe of local dancers were performing, what I can only describe as a "slave dance", recounting no doubt their history and now subsequent well earned freedom. Ostensibly we were there to meet Lester whose birthday it was however I departed shortly before midnight when it became apparent it really wasn't my "scene". Following my memorised route back I didn't hear Matt return so assumed it was late, or early depending on your point of view.