I was invited by Norm and Teri to go to Cabo this past weekend. We stayed in Casa 8 at the Hotel Cabo San Lucas, which was amazing; it was a perfect place to hang out with a group of friends, away from the "party scene" in downtown Cabo. The weather was incredible, too: it was around 90 degrees F, and the sky was perfectly clear and blue. I've known Norm Hamson, Mike Hariff, and Jarom Pollack since high school, but it wasn't until afterwards that we became closer. Some of you have probably heard me say this already, but Jarom was big and scary back then. Looking back, it's hard to imagine being scared of Jarom. He's very gentle, for someone who weighs 220 lbs. :)
I've known Adam Spragg since elementary school, and it was great to get to spend time with him again. I never knew Diana while at Torrey Pines, and I think Teri was still in elementary school during those years. ;)
From the cabin, we saw (and heard) a large school of manta rays jumping out of the water. They would vault up into the air, flapping their wings playfully, and then slap back down into the water. I've never seen anything like it. They looked like smallish (4-6', maybe) mantas, but it was hard to tell, because we were so far away.
Upon returning, Jarom discovered that his car was gone. We drove to the SF Hall of Justice, and found out that it would be $240 to get his car out (!). Someone had his car towed, supposedly for infringing on his driveway. With no choices in the matter, he paid the exorbitant fine and crashed at my place overnight. Here's a photo of him at Pier 70 the next morning:
Speaking of the Hall of Justice, there is a very, very stupid curb on the right-hand side of the building. There's a normal curb, but the sidewalk is only 1/3 the normal thickness of a sidewalk, and instead of grass or something, they have... another curb on the sidewalk. So if you open your door, concrete meets steel, and swearing is likely to occur. argh!
I was really excited to dive Cabo San Lucas. I've heard amazing stories about the scuba diving there: manta rays, breeding hammerhead sharks, large tuna, etc., but my own Cabo diving experience proved to be a huge disappointment.
At David's suggestion, we contacted Amigos Del Mar, one of the premier dive outfits in Cabo. David set me up with Kevin, one of the general partners at Amigos Del Mar, and Norm and Teri booked a two-tank dive with them a week early. When we arrived, I noticed that Kevin seemed a little gruff. At first, he didn't seem happy to see us, perhaps because so many of our divers were clearly inexperienced (Adam and Diana were doing discovery dives, and the rest of the bunch were newly certified), but he warmed up later, and after our dives, he spent some time showing me photos he had taken underwater. The dive masters were very nice, and the shop seemed very accessible (comfortable).
Out in the water, our dive masters were a bit irresponsible, and our dives were disappointing. We were taken to the "North Wall" and "Pelican Rock," which were both just a few hundred feet from the pier. (I was surprised when we stopped 30 seconds away from the dive shop). The visibility was horrible -- 15-20'. I can imagine that some of the sediment in the water could be attributed to the hurricane that had just ripped through Cabo, but I can't believe that it would be that bad further out.
The first dive involved visiting "sand falls" (which we couldn't see, anyway). The second involved having our dive master violate rules of responsible diving by smashing a snail on "sacrifice rock" and having us watch the fish eat the snail bits. My first dive instructor smashed urchins underwater. I remember wondering whether this was normal behavior for divers. Anyway, our dive master then showed us a common damselfish that was trained to bring a starfish back to him on call. It was neat, but it's not what I expected from a dive in Cabo. Although Diana and Adam's instructor seemed to be competent, she made a pufferfish puff up by harrassing it. *sigh*
The equipment and shop quality seemed pretty good, but Jarom's second stage regulator fell apart underwater, and he swallowed some seawater before switching to his spare octo. That was not a good thing. On that dive, he sucked air like a vacuum cleaner, but on the second dive he was much, much improved. :)
The two dives were what I always imagined "tourist" dives to be like. They're useful because people can get underwater in relatively safe dive conditions, but the dive masters have to do gimmicky things so new divers have war stories to tell upon arriving back home. We saw virtually nothing while underwater. If you read up about the dive sites listed on their web page, you might see why I am so disappointed.
I understand that it would have been impossible to go anywhere where the conditions would not be suitable for new divers (unless they were born to dive, like Kenny was. :), but I do believe that there was somewhere else we could have been taken. I know that there is fantastic diving in Cabo. After all, we had a school of mantas jumping around just off of our hotel the very next day. Kevin said that they were going out to an amazing spot on Tuesday, and that if I was still around, I should hop on board, but I was already back in the States by then.
It's too bad that our group was marginalized, for whatever reason. I wish I had better things to say. However, if I go back to Cabo anytime in the near future, I'll go back to Amigos Del Mar to dive again (that is, if Kevin will still take me after reading this page). It was probably just the hurricane and the circumstances around our booking that led to such bad diving.