Before you leave, San Francisco Wall will capture your heart The act of stepping away from land and onto a dive boat has always excited me, but on this bright and shining Cozumel morning I was more excited than usual because my new friend Jorge was aboard the boat.Jorge Marin helps manage Del Mar Aquatics and is the former president of the dive operators association in Cozumel. When I met him a few days earlier I asked, ''What's your favorite dive site in Cozumel?'' In his reserved yet charming way, Jorge said that for wall diving he liked San Francisco Wall. Trusting his experience, I made diving San Francisco Wall a priority. I didn't realize that I would get the chance to dive it with him just days later. ''Are you working today?'' ''No, not today.'' ''Are you going to dive San Francisco?'' I inquired, as eager as a puppy. ''But of course.''I asked him if I might join him and his wife for the dive and he graciously agreed. It occurred to me that a dive professional going diving on his day off was something of a busman's holiday. This must really be some great site.As the divemaster gave the detailed briefing, I watched Jorge out of the corner of my eye. I made sure that I was ready when he gave me the nod. The three of us giant-strided into the looking-glass water and gently descended as the 1-knot current eased us to and over the wall.Not surprisingly, Jorge was a very attentive diver. He checked that I was OK before pulling out his slate. He scribbled the identification of a coral specie which he shared with his wife. Their dive buddy protocol was intimate and educational. It warmed my heart to watch them, a young couple passing notes back and forth at 60 feet in the warm embrace of the Caribbean Sea. I admit now that I couldn't help playing the voyeur. I glided on the current just below them and focused my camera up toward them. God's morning sun silhouetted their forms as they held hands.Moving along, we explored a dramatic reef buttress sloping steeply toward the abyss. Giant orange elephant ear sponges with glowing azure vases at their bases provided splashes of color on a reef resplendent with healthy polyp star coral heads. In some places massive pinnacles, set slightly inward of the slope, rose up 20 feet or more and looked like mushrooms. Below them overhangs and caves were decorated with black coral trees and sweeping deepwater gorgonian fans.A pair of French angelfish, mated for life, ambled between the pinnacles. They were black, but had large, gold-rimmed scales and they struck me as regal sorts. Three queen angels pummeled the edge of a giant barrel sponge, ripping nutrition from the filter feeding tissue of the 100-year-old sponge. Deep blue hamlets darted away upon our close approach, but quickly reappeared as their curiosity overcame their caution.Above every coral head hovered scores of blue chromis, small and colorful, perpetually feeding on the plankton delivered up by these busy currents. From under a ledge, long antennae disclosed the presence of two oversized spiny lobsters. Their flailing antennae raked across the dome port on the front of my camera as I moved in for a picture. Life everywhere on the reef rushed about as if to assert, ''This is life. Live it!''How fast the film is spent on such a dive! I followed my dive buddies as they conferred, pointed, held hands and finally noticed that our bottom time was up.On our safety stop I noticed Jorge laughing through his regulator and looked up to see his wife doing somersaults. Thank goodness for good buoyancy control, I thought. As she finished, they came together in an underwater embrace.I moved off a bit to let them have some privacy as they shared intimacies during the rest of the safety stop and it occurred to me how wonderful it had been to join this charming couple. He is a consummate dive professional and she his living dearest, together on a Sunday sharing the pleasures of a busman's holiday in Cozumel. For more info:Del Mar AquaticsPADI 5-Star Dive CenterCall: 011-52-987-872-5949E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org E-mail: email@example.com Web: http://www.delmaraquatics.net
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