Archive for the 'scuba' Category

Bonaire, Post Two: Bonaire’s Iguanas

September 20th, 2011 | Category: animals,Bonaire,scuba

Iguanas are the local equivalent of squirrels, and they can make minor pests of themselves at restaurants.

Paul and his new friend.

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Bonaire, Post One: Buddy dive and the first pictures

September 19th, 2011 | Category: Bonaire,scuba,Travel

I’m staying at “Buddy Dive” in Bonaire.  Hearing that they were renovating, I asked for one of the new rooms.  It’s very nice – a little suite with a kitchenette, not luxurious but more than adequate, modern, and attractive.  There are small markets north and south of here where you can get basic supplies for meals, and there is a restaurant at Buddy Dive, and many more only minutes away.

Speaking of food and basic supplies, here are a few notes:

  • The Chinese market just north of buddy dive is better than the “Hato” market to the south; you can get basic supplies to make your own meals, if you wish, and save a little on the expensive island food prices.
  • Island prices are significantly higher than in the US.  I noticed that batteries in the Chinese market were pretty reasonable compared to prices in the resort dive shop.
  • For convenience, I ate the breakfast provided in the buddy dive package deal, which also included the rental truck and unlimited nitrox.  I usually made my own lunch with supermarket supplies, and ate dinner out.
  • Restaurants: I had three superb experiences: Mona Lisa, La Barca (Italian), It Rains Fishes.  In all three places, the service and food were truly memorable.  La Barca was inexpensive to boot, and the quality was no less than the others.
  • There was one stand-out terrible experience, at a place called Zee Zicht (Sea View in Dutch).  Zee Zicht is in a building upon the street in Kralendijk, and across the street there is a dock bar named Karel’s that is simply an extension of Zee Zicht; you can order the same food there and sit right on the water watching the sun set.  However, your good times will end there, because the food was absolutely the worst thing I have ever been served in a restaurant.  I have only refused food a handful of times in my life, and this was one of them.  We ordered a seafood soup that tasted precisely like boiled seawater – the juice left over at the bottom of the pot after you steam clams.  It was inedible, but the restaurant would not refund our money, saying that it was simply our taste, and not the soup, that was to blame.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  The other food we had there, conch fritters, had no identifiable conch meat, and the remaining food was grade B at best, using what seemed like frozen fish.  On top of all this, the prices were as high as anything else I’d experienced.  Check trip advisor – it’s not just me.

Here is buddy dive.  The property ends at the large house on the right.  It’s wonderful to get off the airplane and be here within a few minutes, and set eyes upon the azure crystal water teeming with fish.  the resort has a small but reasonably stocked dive shop, with minimal supplies only.  They can only perform basic repairs; they send other things out to Kralendijk where there are specialized dealers.  There is a reasonable-quality restaurant with a pool bar.  It’s OK, but it would be a shame to not expand your horizons if you stay here.  But you get to sit right next to the water, so the view is great.  The same can be said of Captain Don’s habitat – the resort next door – which has slightly better food.

In the evening, we sit in the restaurant and eat dinner while watching the sun set and planning a night dive.  Last night we had a special treat – Ned and Anna DeLoach, of DeLoach fish & creature ID reference book fame, gave a colloquium  In fact, this week at Buddy Dive, they’re leading dives, snorkels, and signing books – something they have done for the last several years, and worth planning a trip around.  They are the nicest, most genuine people you’d care to meet, and utterly without ego.

Some of my friends stayed at “Deep Blue View,” a B&B run by Ester and Menno, a Dutch couple.  DBV is not next to the water, but it’s only 10 minutes away(and has a pool too).  It’s high in the hills, with a spectacular view.  Shaded hammocks provide a nice place to rest while napping after a dive.  There are only five rooms, and it is very private and secluded.  The opportunity to hang out with Ester & Menno cannot be overvalued, as they are a wealth of local information, dive training, good cooking, and general good company to boot.  Plus, they have a great dive boat, should you need to use this service.  Next time, I will seriously consider staying there.

Now all of that tropical stuff topside is great, but this is why divers come here:

These guys look dour and tearful, like the velvet paintings of children with big eyes:

A parrotfish has just zoomed by, shitting sand (they do that because they are eating coral; it’s how most of the sand is formed in the caribbean):


Molokini Crater Dive

January 16th, 2011 | Category: Hawaii,scuba

While staying in Maui I decided to dive the back wall of Molokini, since it’s famous for clarity and the breathtaking wall plunging into the depths.  What I didn’t realize is that surface conditions often make this dive impossible to plan upon; the shops I called wouldn’t promise me a back wall dive, only that they’d try if the weather was right and the group of divers were experienced.  Another thing they seemed concerned about was diver experience level; I can’t blame them – who wants to see some clueless diver sinking into the abyss?  Luckily, when the day came it all worked out and we did exactly what I wanted to do – a portion of the back wall known as the northwest “corner.”

I used the highly-recommended outfit Mike Severn’s diving. They launched their boat from the Kihei boat ramp and the ride to the crater was only 20 minutes or so.  It was a drift dive, but there wasn’t much drifting, so let’s call it a live dive. Max depth was 85 feet with a temperature of 73, comfortable with a 3mm suit and a 2mm hoodie vest.  After our Crater dive, we stopped by the site of a tank and armored personnel carrier that somehow wound up on the ocean floor during training in WWII. During both dives, we could hear whales and porpoises singing.  We didn’t see any while diving, but we did see both types of animals on the surface – it was better than the whale-watching trip I’d taken a few days earlier.


Above: Divers float over the abyss next to Molokini.


An octopus lurks in a crevice within the profusion of life on the wall.  Can you see it?


Above is a close-up.  Can you see it now?  Only a tentacle is showing.





Above is another hard-to-see animal. Below is the close-up: it’s a nudibranch.  I haven’t identified it exactly yet, but I have never seen one quite like this.



Above: a perfectly still and almost invisible frogfish.


Above: a school of bluestripe bass.


Above: the tank.


Above: the APC.



Above: a very rare black frogfish.





Diving the Lana’i Cathedrals II Site

December 27th, 2010 | Category: Hawaii,scuba

I was on vacation in Maui with a few days to dive.  Since I’d never been to Maui before, I decided I’d do the “must see” sites before trying to do something more novel. My guidebook recommended Extended Horizons, based in Lahaina, the city on Maui closest to Lanai’i island. Extended horizons was an excellent operation – thorough, attention to detail, treating new divers with extra attention and leaving more experienced divers largely alone as desired.  I was not forced to surface with the first gas-sucking newbie; I was the first person off the boat and the last person back on, which was terrific.  The boat was fast and perfectly adequate for the small group of divers they booked.  Diving on Maui is expensive – $140 for a two-tank boat dive, as opposed to about $100 elsewhere in the states.

For our first dive, we went to a site called “noname/pinnacle” just to the west of the Cathedrals II site.  Max depth was about 90, with a volcanic pinnacle rising to about 20 feet.  The bottom is covered with short branching corals inhabited by lots of fish.  nearby there is  seaweed field that looks like it might contain seahorses.  The pinnacle itself has a few swim-throughs and, of course, plenty of fish action.

The Cathedrals II site is shallower, and the caverns have multiple openings and levels.  Some nooks and crevices hold lobster and have plenty of hiding places for dark-loving fish.  It’s a really beautiful location and I’d like to do it again.  on the way out and back, we saw many whales.  A couple of times, we came to, turned off engines and enjoyed the whales.  It was better than the whale-watching trip I was on a few days earlier!

Water temp was 75.  I was comfortable in a 3mm with a 2mm hooded vest.  A 5 would be perfect for many people.  Bottom time for me was an hour each dive on EAN 36.

Here are the highlights, with all images in the gallery below. Click on any image to see it larger.













Lobster Diving at Santa Catalina Island

November 08th, 2010 | Category: scuba,Travel

I just returned from a lobster-hunting dive in California.  The trip, set up by seaudivin in Cottonwood, AZ, used the Sand Dollar dive boat in Long Beach, CA.

I like to write about the operation and technicalities of my dives so that others may benefit from my experiences (I love finding things like this when I’m looking into a dive trip).  If you’re just here for the pictures, scroll down!  Note that only about half of the pictures are featured; the remainder are in the gallery at the bottom. Remember, you can click on any image to get a larger version of it.

I found out about this trip the way I find out about all of the best things – by word of mouth.  In this case, a friend in Flagstaff told me about this trip and I decided to check it out.  Seaudivin arranged for very reasonable transportation from Flagstaff to long beach – a van towing a trailer for all of our gear. It was a great bunch of people, and definitely not the cattle boat experience.  We left on a Wednesday AM and didn’t return until Saturday night. So we got to know each other pretty well.

The Sand Dollar is a live-aboard charter, not a daily pick-up operation.    As crew, there were two mates, a cook, and Captain George, for a total of four.  All were divers.  The boat made its own nitrox and compressed air, filling our cylinders directly from hoses on the aft deck – so once we set up our kits, we left them that way for the duration – very nice.  The boat provided weights and steel cylinders with a max pressure of 2400 PSI.  I was told that the increased volume of the cylinders made them roughly equivalent to AL 80s filled to 3000 PSI.

They fed us like pate geese.  The food was good-quality, abundant, American fare, with a bowl of fruit always available as well as plenty of candy and in-between-meal snacks.  Not knowing what I would find, I brought my own snacks, but this was not necessary.

The Sand Dollar is a no-nonsense dive boat.  There are no masseuses or private staterooms.  The crew is very helpful but they do not have a lot of resources; it’s best to bring a box of spare parts and critical dive gear backups.  The accommodations are “racks” fore and aft, which have decent mattresses (single and double, for couples) and about 14 inches of headroom.   I thought the forward ones were the nicest ones.  A curtain can be drawn across the opening of your rack.  Ventilation was at a minimum.  There are no storage lockers; your gear either sleeps with you in your rack or spends its time out on deck.  Privacy is minimal, as you’d expect.  But it was completely adequate and as we were a friendly group, we had no problems.  The galley is spacious and best of all, there are two bathrooms with showers, and since the boat makes its own fresh water, you don’t have to take military showers.

The best thing about the Sand Dollar is the informal style of diving.  Don’t like this location? Ask Capt. George, he’ll move the boat somewhere else.  The aft gate was left open for hours at a time, and there was no schedule.  If you felt like diving, you went, otherwise, you did whatever you wished.  There’s a flat screen with a DVD player in the galley, and always a couple of books and magazines floating around.  The spacious but unadorned fo’csle deck gives you a space to sunbathe without getting in the way of divers (there is also a deck above the main deck where you can sit down and be out of the way).

Last but not least, it was inexpensive.  For three days on the boat, meals and air fills, I paid $500.  Since I use nitrox, I paid a little extra, but it was reasonable.  George clearly knows what he is doing, knows the dive spots like the back of his hand, and operates safely.

As to the diving itself – these tended to be advanced-level dives: deep, cold, and at night.  However, there were plenty of gentler places for the less experienced; we had some new (and young)  divers aboard, and they had a good time.  My dives averaged about 80-110 feet and the water temperature was 55-65 degrees.  Some people used 7mm wetsuits, but that is no fun at all; I used a dry suit and thick fleece.  I was comfortable in 2mm wet gloves and a 7mm wet hood.  I used air or 28-32% EAN.  Visibility was about 30 feet.  There were sea lions swimming around, although they didn’t interact with us, and tons of life in the water column and on the bottom.  The kelp is amazing; swimming in kelp forests is magical.  Crawling through it on a long surface swim is not; try to plan your return to the boat under the surface.  Even if you surface far from the boat, it’s easier to swim at a depth of 5-10 feet than to fight through the kelp.  Be prepared to get a little entangled now and then, but it’s not a big deal.


The boat approaches Santa Catalina island.  We hung around this one island for the entire trip, sampling different locations.


A rock pinnacle provides a good roost for cormorants above and a reef for sea life below.


The anchor chain stretches through the kelp and into the depths.  Sometimes there was only 17 feet of water under the boat, sometimes, more than 100.  The presence of surface kelp is an indicator of shallower areas. Although the kelp can anchor deep and grow very long, it never seemed to reach the surface unless it was in 40 feet or less.


Dropping into the kelp, we are surrounded by fish…


…lots of fish…


…rivers of animals!


The sun silhouettes the bull kelp, creating an entrancing grove.  I could imagine lying on my back and simply watching it sway while the beams of light penetrated the smoky water, caressing the many fish with their beams. On the kelp, small invertebrates make their humble living.



The astonishing opalescent nudibranch (a type of sea slug), seen only at night. This animal eats hydroids (relatives of jellyfish that are found on surfaces under water) and harvests their stinging cells for its own protection, storing them on its feathery tentacles (known as cerata).


An anemone.




This is not the eye of Sauron.  It’s a retracted anemone. If you don’t know anemones, you might not realize that when disturbed, exposed to air, or after eating, they can collapse into themselves like this.


My dive buddy Jeff.


A swell shark. These placid and fairly harmless sharks can inflate like puffer fish, and don’t bother you if you don’t bother them. This guy is only about 18 inches long.


Colorful Bluebanded “Catalina” Gobies find protection within the spines of a sea urchin. I love the neon blue-violet of the inner end of the urchin’s spines.


The Garibaldi fish, the protected state fish and iconic of California waters.


A small pacific octopus.  When I found it, it was attacking a lobster, but I disturbed it and it instantly changed color from a grayish-pink to a more camoflauged green-brown, turned into a lump and sank to the bottom in an effort to be invisible.  The lobster showed the spirit typical of its species and rather than running away, stood its ground aggressively, as if to say “yeah, who’s yer daddy!  Want some more of this?”


The intricately complex mantle of an abalone.


As a stiff current carries us away from the boat, Jeff and I prepare to dive.


A cabezon waits patiently on the bottom.  I found this guy inside of a rock-fall “cave.”


A spiny – and delicious – pacific spiny lobster.  Unlike the Atlantic variety, these guys have no primary claws, although they have so many pointed spikes that they can still injure you.  They have an attitude and know how to move fast when the need to get away. During the day they hide deep in rock crevices where they are impossible to reach.  At night, they come out and traverse the sandy bottom looking for food; this is when they are vulnerable, so a lobster hunter probably has to do some deep night diving to get them.  It was also the end of lobster season, so the easier ones had all been picked off.


Sunset off of Santa Catalina Island.


San Carlos Diving

September 23rd, 2010 | Category: scuba

I just returned from a short diving trip to San Carlos, Mexico.  It’s in the sea of Cortez, about 175 miles south of the border and accessible by car from Arizona, so we drove from Flagstaff – a trip of about 10 or 11 hours.  The trip was arranged by Summit Divers of Flagstaff and was very reasonable.

Click on any of the images in this post to see them larger.

Near the shore, the water was full of particulates, so I’d call the visibility just OK.  however, when we dived at “seal island” the visibility was great – 100 feet plus!  Seal island is the place to dive, and the conditions there are far superior to the shore locations.  Plus, the sea lions will come and check out divers, which is the highlight of this dive.

We started out with some shore diving at sunset; Dive shop owner Chuck and his wife, Sherry, BBQ’d dinner for us while we dove.  What could be better than surfacing to the smell of food cooking?  The landscape looks like something out of a road runner cartoon, and it’s very dramatic how the beautiful sea meets the parched desert.  Here is my dive partner that day, Mark R.


Here is a tiny larval shrimp perching on the bottom of a starfish I was holding in my hand:


We saw some octopus:


I’ve never seen so many Christmas tree worms, and of so many colors!


Here’s one up close:


There are little shrimplike creatures that bore perfect holes in the sand and lurk inside.


I provoked one with my finger – you can see how small these guys are – and it pinched me, much harder than I expected.  I wouldn’t have done it with bare hands! The next image was taken by Jeff A.


A spotted moray eel:


Speaking of moray eels, one of our group – Dr. Jeff – invented a way to feed them safely using a grabber. On every dive, we hunted for morays of appropriate size – we needed large ones – and then made their day by stuffing them full of food.


The sea lions interacted with us, nipping at our fins, barking underwater, staring into our faces from a foot away, and generally demonstrating their amazing flexibility and swimming prowess. There were dozens of them and they would often sneak up on us from behind.  I’d look around, not see a single sea lion, and then turn around to find one staring at me at arm’s length or less!  They are quick and difficult to photograph.






Great schools of fish hung over the bottom rocks. The next image was taken by Aline S.


Here are a lot more pictures – click on each one to see it larger.


Cape Hatteras Diving: the Wreck of the F.W. Abrams

August 17th, 2010 | Category: animals,scuba,Travel

The Abrams was a sister ship of the Dixie Arrow, the wreck we visited the day before this dive.  Unfortunately the visibility was not nearly as good, something I’ve been told is typical.  The viz was OK until about 45 feet under, when it deteriorated to perhaps 15 feet at best. With the surge, lack of visibility, metal things to smash against and the presence of large animals, this dive wouldn’t be easy for a beginner, but if you do what you’ve been trained to do – stay oriented, be close to a dive buddy, etc.  it’s not a big deal.  It was my 100th dive, and I’ve dealt with much, much worse, but I couldn’t help but think about how it would have appeared to me a couple of years ago.  A wreck reel would be a good idea here because it will give you a trail of bread crumbs to follow when the viz gets so bad that you can barely see your own fins.  Of course, lines can part, so always try to memorize some landmarks too – or, simply don’t go that far from the anchor; there’s plenty to see.


Above is my favorite shot of the whole trip.  Chuck is hanging on a weighted line dropped from the boat, doing his deco stop at 20 feet, illuminated by scintillating sun rays and accompanied by a sizable barracuda – standard behavior for this fish, which likes to hang out under boats and near divers who are doing their stops.  I used to think that it was the shadow of the boat, or maybe the smaller fish that usually hang out near a floating object, but I’ve been kept company by ‘cudas even when doing stops on drift dives with no boat or lines above, and even in absolute darkness, so I’m not sure what this is about.  I don’t find it threatening; perhaps they figure that I’m there, so I must have my reasons and they should hang out too. If the viz were better, you’d see the debris of the Abrams below Chuck, but the next image will show you what happened as we went through 50 feet of depth:


And it got much worse than that.  Of course, with the sun gone, it became colder too.

Visiting a shipwreck – a real one, not a reef project – is reminiscent of Orpheus’ journey to Hades.  The allegorical sequence of leaving the warmth of topside, surrounded by the happy excited camaraderie of my dive companions, then physically passing through a medium that gradually chokes off color, visual intensity, and temperature, eventually winding up in an inhospitable graveyard haunted by large menacing animals and the constant invisible dangers of diving, hits me over the head with unintentional references to the underworld.  I think that this is a universal experience for divers, even if they cannot articulate it.

Anybody who does this has spent a lot of time and money to do it and must really want to be there, and I am no different.  I am always thrilled to enter the water and fascinated by what I see there.  Returning to the surface, I am usually reluctant to leave the water; but I always have a sense of relief that I’m going back where there are people, sunshine, and laughter.


Coming up the line, we are shadowed by big sand tiger and other sharks ( many larger than me) that stay almost out of visibility, like shady characters following me down a dark city street.  To them, the visibility is not a problem at all; they know exactly where I am and what my visual limitations are.  The currents  that would sweep me away from the anchor line if I let go are no problem for the sharks; their thick bodies ripple with muscle as they casually position themselves just where they wish to be, maintaining a distance of 10-15 feet, right at the edge of the sphere of invisibility created by the darkness and the cloud of fine particles that surround us.  Accompanied by an entourage of smaller animals – each shark is its own ecosystem – they fade in and out of sight, but not awareness. What beauty – how lucky am I to witness this?



There is the intellectual aspect of understanding what has occurred at this spot – the danger, confusion, fear, desperation, bravery, and struggle of the Abram’s crew – as well as the physical evidence of not just an event, but an entire age gone by.  This ship was built not just by people who have passed on, but an entire age that is gone.  The passions, struggles and urgency which with these people lived are now represented only by these things lying on the bottom and our memories of them.  I know that a few survivors of that era are still around, but their numbers grow fewer each day, and they must feel like strangers in a strange land.  As I wandered the remains of the old steam engine, strewn about the bottom, I reflected on how much labor went into the creation of these objects, how the events that led up to their winding up on the bottom were the defining moments of some people’s lives and the end of others (in the case of the Dixie Arrow, people died, but on the Abrams, there were no casualties).  Now, in the summer of 2010, I can casually visit this site for my amusement. I hope that everybody who comes here knows what the place means, or meant, to somebody.  What will I leave for future generations to meditate upon?

Down on the wreck, you are always being watched.






Beautiful, miniature corals strain the water for their living:


Every source of food is exploited; my own body’s protein is mine only by right of strength, or at least intimidation.  The reef would be happy to make me part of it, and it wouldn’t take long.

Here is the whole bunch of images, plus a few extra “detail” shots.


Cape hatteras Diving: the Wreck of the Dixie Arrow

August 14th, 2010 | Category: animals,scuba,Travel

The Dixie Arrow was a US tanker torpedoed by a German U-boat during WWII.  Here is the story, as taken from

<built> in Camden NJ in 1920 and 1921, <the Dixie Arrow and its sister ship, the F. W.  Abrams>  met their end in 1942 only a few miles apart in the WW II Battle of the Atlantic off the Coast of Hatteras.  The Dixie Arrow was steaming from Texas City, TX, with crude oil when she was torpedoed by  Kapitanleutnant Flachsenberg in U-71 just south of Diamond Shoals on March 26th, 1942.  Despite being engulfed in flames,  the lives of many of the Dixie Arrow’s crew were saved when  ABS Oscar Chappell sacrificed his own life manning the helm of the crippled tanker to turn the ship and steer the flames away from the survivors gathered on the ship’s bow.  All tolled, eleven died  and twenty-two survived the sinking.  <… stuff removed> Today both ships lie in about 90 feet of water less than six miles apart.  The Dixie Arrow is better preserved:  The shape of her bow and stern are easily identified–with high relief in the bow section rising twenty-five feet from the ocean floor.  Both wrecks are regularly visited by large rough-tail and southern sting-rays, sand tigers, and huge atlantic barracuda.

So this is a storied wreck and also it hosts great clouds of life.  I was trying out a new camera and the pictures are kinda crappy, but here they are.  The most notable thing were the large number of robust, muscular sand tiger sharks, many of which were larger than us. At first glance you may think that it is scary to be around such large animals; indeed, they are kind of alarming, because of their numbers, size, muscularity, and how their mounths are formed into a permanent goofy grin of protruding sharp teeth.  But they treated us with a laissez-faire attitude.  I knew that they knew I was there, but I could also tell that I didn’t look like food.  At that moment, anyway…


Another thing to consider is that their mouths are not meant for eating large prey.  They don’t have a particularly nasty reputation for attacking humans, although it does happen occasionally.  Here you can see the relative sizes of man and beast; if anything, the size of this shark has been de-emphasized, because it’s farther away than the diver (who happens to be Chuck of Columbia Scuba).


Other large predators inhabit the vicinity, such as these 3 and 4 foot-long barracudas.


Above is a shot of the tanker’s giant steam engine surrounded by a great cloud of life. The engine is beautifully exposed, and you can see the crankshaft and boilers when diving (although not in this particular image).

Divers may be interested to know that in the summer, the water here is very warm.  The Gulf Stream makes a close approach to land here, and this wreck, being about 20 miles offshore, lies within it.  I wore  a 3-mil suit; the water temperatures were almost 80, avan at depth. There is a one-hour+ boat ride involved; the water has a reputation for being rough and you never know what you will find.  It was something of a challenge this day, and some people puked, but overall the weather was gorgeous.

The town of Hatteras is well-known as a tourist attraction and I won’t go into any detail describing it, except to say that there is at least one good dive shop here (mentioned above)  that dispenses nitrox, and there are numerous restaurants, quaint inns, and beautiful beaches.

It also has mosquitoes, and plenty of them.  Since I’m outside having my blood drained by mosquitos in order to be near a hot spot to make this post, I’m just going to slap in the rest of today’s photos without comment:


Mexican Advertising

October 28th, 2009 | Category: Cozumel,Travel,Uncategorized

Mexican advertising has a amusing, desperate, shameless quality to it.

This one is really an inspirational message: “We know that you have to eat occasionally during your rabid shopping frenzy, but don’t give up – we know you can do it!”

Notice those bottles of hard liquor in the background of this fast food joint. You want fries with that?


I find this desperate appeal as repellent as the man who wrote the lyric.  Note Ms. tourist cramming useless kitsch into her overflowing suitcase.  Forget it, babe, you’ll never make it close.


I suppose that kitsch lady will have to buy more bags, like this next woman.  It’s so refreshing to experience a foreign culture; the exchange of ideas is invigorating.  As provincial as I am, it would never have occurred to me to transport a guitar in a duffel bag. I’d like to hear the sound it makes as it goes through baggage handling. Remember the old american tourist commercial?


Next, a ruthless attempt to get your cash by blatantly pushing drugs.  In Mexico, you can buy anything you want without a prescription, but still, she has a stethoscope, so it has the imprimatur of the medical profession.  Of course you really need 5 cubic feet of oxycontin for legitimate medical reasons.

Maybe I’ll get inspired by the previous ads, buy so many pills that I can’t even close my suitcase, get blasted out of my mind and stagger slack-jawed through the mall, unable to resist hypnotic commands to buy everything in sight. Or maybe I’ll get some medical-grade meth to fuel my foaming acquisitive session. This being Mexico, you can get pills as big as the ones on the sign, something large enough to require a violin case for transportation. Don’t worry though – the Bacardi you bought from the fast food place makes it go down easy. Come on – we know you can do it.

Don’t forget, no matter how much meth you buy, it stops being legal the moment you cross into US airspace. You had better eat it all on the plane, or immigration’s dogs will rip out your spleen. *


Finally, here is the video screen of a money conversion machine.  This woman has clearly reached a state of unblemished tantric perfection, the pinnacle of her heart’s desire, and perhaps has experienced a shattering orgasm as her converted money issued from the machine’s orifice. She might even have been blessed by God for this holy act; note the halo-like rays emanating from behind her head.


When I reached the states and was asked if I had anything to declare, I was honestly able to say “no.” The officer said “really?  You didn’t buy a single thing?” and it was true.  Not even oxycontin.

* I have seen a couple of immigration dogs.  They’re not all German Shepherds; I once saw a 10-pound shaggy little terrier.


under the sea in Mexico

October 21st, 2009 | Category: Cozumel

A large grouper just above the reef where I always see them.


There is a seahorse (actually many) in this image. Can you find it?


That picture is how things really look when you’re deep enough for the water to filter out alnost all of the red and green light. Here’s a slightly more revealing image:


And here’s the prize:




A stingray ripples arocc the sand, mysterious and graceful.













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