Scuba. In a quiet beach town. And accommodations at a swank hotel. After all the hustle and bustle of Rio during Carnaval, this quick side trip seemed just what the doctor ordered.
So we set off for Arraial do Cabo -- where they never have troubles, at least very few -- in our crappy little rental car. Which may as well have been a One Wheel Wubble drawn by a camel, as what should have been a 2-hour journey took us almost four. We got out of Rio with surprisingly little fanfare, but then proceeded to take a wrong turn at Niteroi, hit lots of random traffic on the 106, and almost missed the big turnoff at Araruama. Hey, at least we didn't have to face the Perilous Poozer of Pomplemoose Pass. Considering we were armed with only a handful of Google Maps screenshots, I think we did pretty well.
As we arrived in Arraial, things began to look up. The beaches shone, the breezes blew, and our hotel was indeed a big step up from the sketchy motel we'd been staying at in Rio. For this I have to thank my siblings, who booked this scuba excursion for me as a birthday present. They did their homework! Pousada Caminho do Sol is a beautiful guesthouse just a block from the beach, with a stunning tropical garden and an award-winning restaurant.
After checking into our lovely penthouse room, complete with jacuzzi and beach view, we took a quick snooze before meeting with our divemaster Marcelo. The fact that he came to our hotel was a promising sign. We've had mostly excellent dive experiences, but a hard-learned lesson has taught me to trust my instincts when it comes to choice of divemaster and shop. Here again, the sibs did their homework and managed to select an affable guy who genuinely seemed concerned for our comfort and safety. He answered all our questions, gave us clear instructions for the next day, and left us feeling confident about the whole endeavor.
We had a strange encounter with pink stuff for dinner and then called it an early night, getting a pretty decent sleep despite the increasingly windy conditions outside.
In all fairness, the scuba debacle that ensued wasn't entirely Marcelo's fault. That week's unusually windy weather made for water temps even colder than usual, necessitating thick wetsuits. Sausage time! Plus the visibility was terrible. We're spoiled, having done over 50 dives in mostly warm, clear, beautiful conditions. I much prefer to dive in just a bathing suit, and hate the feel of being stuffed into a full wetsuit. Maybe if we had our own gear it wouldn't be so bad, but since we don't, it's akin to wearing someone else's bowling shoes. All over your entire body. Bleh. Add in the fact that we got sent off with another divemaster who (a) didn't speak English, and (b) was more concerned with maneuvering his fancy underwater camera than monitoring our safety, and you've got two more strikes. When I had a bit of an equipment malfunction and started surfacing uncontrollably, that was almost the final straw. I wasn't that deep, and managed to ascend fairly slowly, so I didn't get the bends or anything. But I was still pretty freaked out. I almost didn't do the second dive. But since we'd come so far and this outing was so meticulously planned, I decided to go for it. The second dive with Marcelo was a much better experience, until we began to surface and both Mark & I got really nauseous. We're still not entirely sure what caused that bizarre reaction -- tainted air? ill-fitting wetsuits? -- but it's never happened to either of us before. Admittedly not our finest hour.
That night we celebrated our adventures with the best sunset we'd seen in a while, and cheese on a stick. The wind continued to rage.
Rather than come back for a second day of diving, we relaxed on the beach. A wise choice! Not a Quilligan Quail nor a Key Slapping Slippard in sight.
* browse all Arraial do Cabo pics
* browse all Brazil posts
* WanderFood Wednesday: fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip