Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bayahibe and Saona Island: A Good Day to be at the Beach

"Bayahibe and Saona Island: A Good Day to be at the Beach"

Glorious day at the beach. We had an incredible day today. We woke up very early and met the Snows, Swapps, and McDermids at the Casa at 6:00 a.m. We decided to meet to determine whether we were going to go. Well, we decided to take our chances. We loaded up: Snows/Hammons; Swapps/McDermids and headed out. It was a gorgeous drive to Bayahibe where we caught a boat with Scuba Fun just down the road. We gathered our things. Amazingly, there are prescription face masks for snorkeling. Joanne, Brother McDermid, and I got one, and they made all of the difference, which I will talk about later.
Bayahibe Bay
We walked down the road, waded up to our knees out to the boat, and climbed onboard. Soon, we were off, after we waited for five scuba divers that came onboard. We motored out to a spot where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean. From the distance, we could see the giant waves as these two oceans met. Fortunately, we didn’t go out all of the way. Our boat driver said it was not necessarily safe to do so in the type of boat we had. We stopped instead at some Mangroves and drove through them. We did see a bunch of smaller turtles, barracuda, and four stingrays. After ooing and awing, we were off to the confluence of the Caribbean and the Atlantic. We climbed out of the boat and did a bit of snorkeling. Well, I didn’t have it down yet, but I did have some fun.
Saona Island
Then, we drove over to a little island called Saono Island, a small island just off the coast. The boat let us off there and then left to take the scuba dive folks off to scuba dive. We clamored up the beach and gathered our chairs beneath some very tall palm trees. It was stunningly beautiful. As we sat there, we could see a decrepit dock whose main floor had vanished years ago. Now, huge cement pilings stuck out of the ocean, now perfect resting spots for birds, mostly sea gulls. 
Off Saona Island
The white sands stretched along the beach, and blue water lapped against the sand beach. As we sat there, I said: “We are in the greatest mission on earth.” Then, I asked Elder Swapp, “What time is it?” And we both said, while laughing uproariously, “Who cares!” As I sat there and contemplated our surroundings, the thought came to mind: “It is incredible that we are on a mission in paradise.”
Not long after we arrived, I decided to swim out to the old pier and check out the fish. I slowly made my way out with my snorkel donned. Soon, I was seeing fish I had never seen before. Perhaps, it helped that I finally caught on to snorkeling and I could actually see through the googles. There were tiger fish; beautiful blue and yellow fish; larger silver fish; odd looking fish that looked like a rock with a round, long tail; and many other fish. Many of them just hovered beneath the old pier, darting periodically out and about. Some of the Tiger Fish came close to me, but they sensed me and headed back down. I just watched, enjoying every minute of seeing things I had never seen before.

Slowly, I lifted my headed and motioned to the others to come out. Elder Swapp said if I saw anything to give a wave. Wave I did. They came out, and we swam around the pilings. What a beautiful view we had looking beneath the water and beneath the pilings. That’s where the fish were. Soon, it was time for lunch; so, I snorkeled back, dried off a bit, and headed for the grub.
Palm trees on Sanoa Island
Well, the island grub was pretty good. We had pasta, potatoes, pineapple, and grilled pork chops and chicken. It was absolutely delicious! I even had seconds. After a tasty lunch, we just sat beneath the palm trees and watch our beautiful wives frolic in the ocean. What could have been a more peaceful setting? We decided this was one of the things we could do again. Soon, we were ready to shove off to our next destination: the ocean’s natural swimming pool.
Yellow boat off Saona Island
They weren’t kidding! When we arrived, it really was a “swimming pool in the middle of the ocean.” It was about chest high for several acres. While we were there, we snorkeled again and saw lots of starfish. Joanne picked one up and held it. She said it was quite heavy, so much different than the dried old things we see in stores or on display. We had a great time there, but the time overcame us and away we went.
Our next stop was a deeper part of the ocean although it was a bit blue. The divers donned their tanks and jumped overboard. Our guide told us to stay close to the boat because there were so many other boats coming and going. We did. What an incredible view we saw. It’s another world down under. As I lay there all stretched out, head in the water, breathing through the snorkel, I saw things I had never seen before. It looked to me like a garden. The plants were large and flowing with the water. Some of them reminded me of giant ears, flapping in the water. Both large and small fish played tag with one another, darting in and out of the foliage. There were some things that looked like little volcanoes or Mexican-looking stoves in the bottom.   
Sister Hammon looking as gorgeous as ever!
While we were looking at the gorgeous floor, I noticed something like a plastic bag floating in the water, just to my left and moving toward me. With a bit of trepidation, I recognized it as a jelly fish. Remembering our stings at Palenque, I quickly got out of its way. For a moment, though, I saw the delicate beauty of this fish.
I think I have finally caught on to snorkeling. I stayed submerged for a long time, both here in the natural swimming pool and at the island. It is way too much fun. 
Elder Hammon snorkeling
We had just an amazing day.


Joseph Keller Math 485 said...

Cute pictures! That water is ridiculously blue! Holy WOW!

Colleen/Grandma/Mom said...

Well, besides enjoying your photo journal entry immensely, you taught me another thing. I did not know that the senior missionary couples function under different rules than the young missionaries. Therefore, I did not know you would be participating in snorkeling or boating, etc.

Darrel and Joanne Hammon said...

I think that is something the Church does tell you before you enter the MTC and when you actually arrive in the mission field. Senior couples follow many rules, but they also operate under a more lenient set of rules. Our area president, Elder Francisco Vinas, says that we need to "suffer with joy." So, we are attempting to suffer with joy. I didn't know you could snorkel, either. The people in the MTC gave us a hard time about going to a snorkeling mission. We didn't know anything about it until we arrived. In fact, some of the senior couples have their own snorkeling equipment. Go figure. Perhaps, if we let that be known, more seniors would serve mission. Thanks for reading.

Grand Bay of The Sea said...

Saona Island is probably the most famous attraction in the Dominican Republic, and for good reason! The dives are world class and the beaches are paradise