6 o'clock came and as I looked up dreamily out onto the pitch black open water I saw some strange triangular lights way out in the distance. My eyes weren't working too well from the sleep depravity and some terrible dryness, and I just couldn't tell if I was indeed seeing some sort of UFO or a secret Soviet submersible that didn't know the whole Cold War was over and had just surfaced in order to launch an attack against a floating fortress of capitalism. Then reality set in and I saw that it was a sailboat — a tiny sailboat not too far away from us. I scared the shit out of some Filipino crew member who had just stepped onto the deck at that moment.
Then I walked past my little confused friend and around the corner to the port side of the ship, and saw all of Grand Cayman spread out in front of me, bright with lights in the early morning darkness. Eh, guy probably just thought I was still drunk or something. Or a retard. More than likely a drunk retard.
After that I did my gym time, then tried to eat some breakfast but found that I wasn't really that hungry. I barely ate anything in the pre-dawn buffet set up in the cafeteria at the back of the boat (since we had such an early shore leave I couldn't wait until the real dining hall opened for the first meal of the day) — just half a plastic cup of yogurt. I think I was still nervous about my SNUBA dive that I had signed up for that morning. As I previously stated I remembered how much trouble I had learning to breathe through a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus back in Hawai'i, and was positive I'd screw up something as basic as "breathing though a tube" again. And die.
I tried to push those thoughts out of my head though as I ended up wandering almost aimlessly to the bow (front) of the ship again, watching dawn break behind the island we were parked at. Well, by "island" I mean "chunk of coral reef that at its height only reaches 12 feet above sea level." Honestly, who the hell is dumb enough to live on an slight bump in the sea that an average rainstorm can submerge? The island's port was even destroyed by a weak hurricane a few years back and they thought it would just be a pain to rebuild it seeing as they'd already done so 15 times in the past half century. So, because of that we dropped anchor about a mile out in the water and we had some mini boats shuttle us to the craggy, crusty island shores. Good times...
DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!
Everybody who was doing a shore excursion gathered island-side on the (run down, smelly, pathetic-looking) Grand Cayman dock after being dropped off from the boats, and waited for somebody to start shouting their group name out (i.e. "Stingray Cove! Over here for Stingray Cove!!" or "Tour of the Tortuga Rum Factory! Drunkards over here!" or "Pre-Red-Light District Penicillin Shots! Over here if you plan to fuck a skanky island whore! Shots over here!"). Hundreds of people from our ship all departed with their tourist platoons, and then there were only 14 people left (me included of course).
I turned to some assholic-looking frat guys and began to ask them if they were there for SNUBA diving, but then realized that that might have struck up a conversation with the 3 douchebags and decided against it. I turned then to the middle-aged fat couple.
Thank Jeebus that after only 20 minutes some guy from the SNUBA operation came by. I think he slept in and only just woke up, but he claimed he was surfing and just had to tackle a few more waves, and before he knew it it was already this late. The problem with that story is that the largest waves on that island were maybe 6 inches. From the height of the ship you could see all the way around the island, and I recalled no white-water breakers at all. Whatever. Ted (who owned and ran Ted's SCUBA) then led us on a half mile walking trek (which was half of the island) along the seaside road (in the MIDDLE of the fucking road) in the middle of traffic to his shop. I almost died 9 times — the Fatties 15.
There were nothing but boats, tiny cars spewing out black exhaust, and noise pollution the whole walk. It felt like the entire island was a small, watery ghetto. All I kept thinking to myself was "this is going to be utter crap." When we got to Ted's SCUBA shop I noticed that the 3 frat boys were nowhere to be seen. I didn't bring it up seeing as it was humorous to watch Ted get confused as he tried to do a head count and kept coming up short; soon he just shrugged his shoulders, took us remaining folk down some wooden stairs to the small dock in the back and introduced us to our dive master Ivan.
We split into two groups at this point. Diver Ivan pulled me and the Fatties aside, and Ted got the family of 6 and the couple who wouldn't stop kissing and grabbing each other; yeah, they were both kind of hot, and she had enormous titties just spilling out of her bikini top, and her butt was just absolutely perfect, and.... I forgot where I was going with that. Anyway, it was Ivan for the Fatties and me.
We got suited up pretty quickly (mask, flippers, weights, etc.) and Ivan proceeded to tell us how not to drown while SNUBAing in the small bay just behind Ted's shop. I interrupted, "Wait, what? We're going diving here? Not out in the water a bit? There are boats all the fuck around, and what's there to see here? Dead hookers with weights around their ankles who liked to ask questions? What?!"
But Ivan calmly shushed me in his sexy Latino voice and said, "Shhhhh, don' you worry your manly brain about it, hombre. There is a shipwreck just about 200 feet away from the dock. Eet is beautiful... Magnifico. You will enjoy eet. Yeeeeeees, you will thank me for eet later. You weell see, muchacho." Ivan was so smooooooooth.
Ivan continued on about hand signals, potential respirator emergencies, the bends, and goggle care, and soon we were making our way to the ladder that led down into the sea. What concerned me the most though was that Ted's group (all 8 of them, 4 children under the age of 14 and that couple who probably didn't listen to a word he said safety-wise due to the groping) was already done suiting up and right behind us (they must have sped through their warnings and safety measures). I thought to myself "The fatties and 2 of those kids ain't coming back."
DOWN, DOWN, DOWN
What blew my mind the most about the dive (aside from the fact that I took to the breathing apparatus faster than Rosie O'Donnell on a fat naked lesbian covered in pudding) was the fact that there was SO GODDAMN MUCH to see there! In our short 40-minute SNUBA dive I saw about 5 times as many fish (and most were giant fish) than the entirety of my two hour-long dives in Hawai'i. And there was a true-to-God shipwreck down there too! I think I remember Ivan telling us that it was from a boat that sank in the 1960s, but fuck that, I kept it in my mind that it was One-Eyed Willy's real treasure ship. It was fairly decomposed, so it was easy to pretend. Though just as I went to go pet a barracuda (or some kind of eel or octopus) hiding just inside a crumbling porthole of the ship, I found my head getting yanked back by the force of a huge tug on my SNUBA line (which led to the surface and my air tank, which floated on a foam raft high above me). From my vantage point I could easily see what caused the close attempt on my life: Fatty McFatFat was struggling to hang on to my air-tank-raft while kicking furiously and entangling my hose in his oh-so-fat legs.
That's when I came close to panic, but I turned around and saw Ivan just feet away from me. I tried to do some of the hand signals that he had taught us, but couldn't think of the one that said "That fat fuck in our group is trying to kill me with his fatness! Stop him, please," so I just made up some signs of my own. I made some gestures in a huge circle around my stomach: Fatty. Then I did the "thumb across my throat" gesture: Killing me. Then I pointed up: Way the fuck up there. Ivan freaked a little and swam up to the surface, pissing in the face of the bends. Ivan then untangled the Fatty-go-fatty and gave me the "all clear" gesture before sending the two others in our group back to shore. I then got some quality alone time with Ivan when he came back down. Awesome.
My air tank lasted a bit longer, but eventually it was time for me to leave the blue too. After I got out, and as I began removing all my equipment, Fatty and wife approached me and began asking me if the whole SNUBA experience was as good for me as it apparently had been for them. I looked at him as if he just peed on my leg; I let the moment drag on for at least 40 seconds too. His stupid look of happy-moronicness slowly turned into embarrassment and then fear.
"Oh yes," I eventually stated. "My favorite part was when you tried to KILL me with your fat American fatness! Thanks for that memory, and for the mental picture of your Speedo wedgie from below — when I looked up at you trying to sink my air tank — that I will NEVER be able to get out of my mind without deep therapy. Mongo."
He sputtered back, "I... I'm sooooorry! I just panicked and, and I just tried to grab onto the first thing that I could see that was floating nearby!" I turned and walked away mumbling under my breath that he had jack shit to worry about seeing as high-density flab floats, and his girth was enough to actually have the whole of this planet's water float upon him anyway.
After that I gave Ivan a very generous $50 tip (taken from Fatty's wallet that he left in the open lockers) and slowly marched back to the main island dock, where the shuttle boats to the cruise ships were waiting.
THE REST OF THE DAY
I made it back to the Inspiration (much earlier than most people, and I was only one of 3 on the return shuttle-boat) and then showered and crashed. I don't remember being even close to as exhausted as I was that late morning.
I slept till 5 (well after the ship had already left Grand Cayman and steamed off back into the open sea), grabbed some pizza in the rear of the boat, and then Wolfy and I met up and caught the early seating of the "Main Show" of the night. This "Main Show" consisted of a really shitty magician/wannabe comedian whose sole act was straight out of the "Magic Order Form" in the middle of every comic book ever printed. Everything he did was just simple slight of hand crap that I could see completely through (thanks to the character of Shadow in Neil Gaiman's American Gods). I honestly could not understand how any of his act got any applause. It was exactly the same kind of over-rehearsed shit that Penn and Teller mock with regularity in their act. Ugh! It was just painful to see that sad sack sweat so profusely while stashing cards in his pocket, and searching for the gap in the rings he was trying to magically bond together. He didn't even deserve sympathy clapping, as that seemed to only encourage him.
After the magic man came a comedian whose act was 1/3rd that of the fat and funny comedian who had just done his show the previous nights. Honest to God, the same set ups, punchlines and even reactions to his own jokes and the audience. Verbatim. What killed me even more was that I seemed to be the only one who noticed. Were they pumping in pure oxygen into the room like Vegas casinos in order to liven things up? What. The. HELL!?!!?
Eventually dinner finally came, and the Wolfman and I joined the two other all-chick couples who chose to join us that evening. We joked that the other 4 were probably left behind on the island, but when waitress Asya told us that that kind of thing was not unheard of, and those left behind usually get raped and mugged (especially the guys) for two or more days before being able to leave, we started to feel bad. I hit on Asya some more to get my mind off of it, and after three main courses and 2 desserts we all left to watch the ship's live production of "The Not-So Newlywed Game!" (Exclamation point was theirs, not mine.)