As a kid, I went mountain walking most summers in Poland – with my grandma. It wasn’t exactly technical. No crampons for us. Always wanted to use that word.
Nope, we would rock up on the mountains in our sneakers and our sweatpants. In fact, I think my grandma wore shorts. She carried around my grandpa’s canvas rucksack and his ancient thermos flask. We filled it with sweet lemon tea. Ate tomatoes whole – with our sandwiches. We were proper hardcore.
Truth be told, we were mostly walking with a bit of climbing at the top. About 2000m high. For this latter part, chains were already nailed into the stone. They’re still there now in the Tatras. Mountain chains – in Polish called they’re called łańcuchy górskie. Everyone climbing the peak holds onto them as they climb up. They’ve been there so long they’ve made some of the surrounding stones slippery from use. At least they were slippery in our sneakers. But you always held onto them. It’s the unwritten rule. Stick to the path. Hold onto the chains.
So I was little surprised when I saw the same system in Bonaire – underwater. A strong line attached to metal poles affixed into the sea bed – to hold onto. Someone had thoughtfully placed them so you could follow it, all the way down to the reef.
Back up a little. This was our first dive. Each dive site is named in Bonaire, and this one is called Buddy’s Reef. It’s only a few minutes away in the dinghy from the marina. We’ve put Edna in the water. Keep her tied to the back and lift her at night as normal. This way we can get to the centre of town faster than walking – five minutes instead of twenty – and out to the dive sites.
At 8am, we left the girls sleeping again, went out of the entrance to the marina and turned right.
We saw the underwater line as soon as we entered the water. We followed it. The dive started off shallow and then, after 20 metres or so, came to a steep drop-off. At the top of the drop-off, we couldn’t see where it ended below. The łańcuchy looked like inverted mountain climbing. And I’m not going to lie. I got a little dizzy. My balance has a habit of messing with me when things aren’t lined up in the order my brain thinks they should be.
I breathed. Stop and breathe. At this point, Jack had already gone down the wall a bit. I followed him. Not like Barbados where the slopes are gradual. It went from light to dark blue. Azure to midnight. Keep breathing.
We settled around about the 15m zone. Because there was no bottom to stick to, you become more aware of your floating buoyancy. And the life around us – this needs a separate blog. There really is a lot of large and unafraid fish. It definitely helps that the reef is protected here. We went back up – and found the line. Handy those łańcuchy.