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Last week I came back from a 9 day-holiday in Santa Lucia, Cuba. The location on Cuba was located at the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere about a 3 hour drive west from Holguin. Although the weather throughout the holiday could have been less rainy, on the day and times we planned some activities the weather was on our side.
One of the most breath taking moments we had in the holiday was the opportunity to go scuba diving with bull-sharks. As we were down 25 meters below the surface at a location called La Boca, it was a marvel to look at the bull sharks being hand fed by the diving master. Of course it’s even better to have seen them in their natural environment, without the help of a human touch… But I think wikipedia also describes the bull sharks as dangerous to humans, so for me this was more than a good chance to see them really close. When I write really close I’m talking about within arm’s reach, but I think ‘don’t touch’ had the upper hand in my mind ;).
The day after we had the shark feeding we tagged along to go to La Boca again but now for some freediving, as there also was a wreck on the bottom. The fore was situated approximately 8 meters below, going all the way down to 25 meters for the aft of the ship. As known with wrecks they are invested with fish, having made their habitat of this ship once roaming the seas. The location also featured a tricky timing when you want to freedive without the currents of the changing tides, we had a window of about an hour. It was a very nice spot to go freediving, a lot to see and a perfect training ground to do some different depth’s.
It was a very good training & learning holiday for my girlfriend Marieke, who’s enjoying freediving more and more since our trip to Dahab and Dominican Republic. During this holiday she asked me if she could do some statics to improve her breath hold time and confidence. So this was her first ever static and within 2 or 3 tries she managed to go up to a time of 2m39s. Most impressive and makes me proud! As for depth training, during our trips to Dahab she had been down to the entrance of the fish bowl at the Canyon at 17 meters deep, but at the time she wasn’t confident enough to do more. Now she knows that she could at least hold her breath longer than a minute, her confidence gained. As we were diving the wreck at La Boca she kind of had her mind set on reaching somewhat greater depths, I agreed to swim down to 20 meters with her following me. When I see with how much ease she does these depth’s, I thought to myself there is more than ‘just’ 20 meters.
So later that day when we tagged along another scuba diving boat, we got to go freediving at the same place the scuba divers went down to ‘the stairs’ location. A beautiful coral featuring a stretched coral in the shape of stairs starting from a big plateau at 8 meters, the first drop took you down to 20 meters for the 2nd plateau. The 2nd drop went down into the abyss, which made it an amazing location to freedive.
Marieke now had her new 20 meter personal best and she was easily doing dives to the 2nd plateau, she watched me do a 27 meter dive and was inspired to try a deeper dive as well. So now I took the safety skills acquired in my freediving courses and applied them to her freedive into the deep. I waited at the surface to the point she was 16-18 seconds down and followed her down. At around 15-18 meters I watched her turn and swam up with her to the surface again, where she did a perfect surface protocol and showing a very much easy freedive down to 25 meters in 1 m19s 😮 . All I can say is that I can really learn from Marieke, she showed me a really relaxed and at ease freedive, where-as for myself I tend to sprint down too much.
This was a perfect holiday filled with a lot of under water time, which we both very much love. Above the surface we had a great time at the resort as well, although for our opinion hotels can leave their animation crews at home, because enjoying the rest, sun, reading, sketching and peace of mind isn’t working when these guys are around ;).