November 11th, 2011

Riding in Orient Bay, Swimming with the Sharks

Yesterday started with breakfast at an excellent vegetarian-safe diner called Top Karrot. Then we grabbed a taxi and went riding near Orient Bay with Bayside Riding Club. This is a fantastic group just past the butterfly farm. We paid for 1.5 hour ride and spent at least 2 hours riding around. I'm posting pictures of us riding on Flickr and Facebook.

We then walked around on Orient Beach and wandered into town for dinner at Tai Chi. There's a very nice town square there where all the families and kids come down for dinner and congregate around there. Dinner was excellent if a bit expensive due to the Euro conversion. We took a taxi back to the hotel and napped for a bit.

The final part of the night we went down to the beach to see the Full Moon party. The music choice was good, but the DJ was too in love with his (absent) DJ skills and would change up the song every 15 beats, constantly stranding the dancefloor. But we tried to dance and enjoyed a 2007 Christopher Creek Petite Syrah before stumbling up to bed around 2am.

This morning I was back up at 7:30am to go diving again. This time we were barely in the water before a shark swam right over us. Near the end of the trip a different shark (much larger, about the size of a 13-year-old boy) swam up, decided we weren't food and then circled around looking for other food. I spent about 4 minutes within 5 feet of the shark. It was awesome.

The second dive we were only in the water 2 minutes before we ran into a pair of sea turtles - big ones! One had a shell the size of my chest and I swam with him for a bit, before going off to see the much larger one the dive instructor had found. Shortly thereafter we found an octopus, who kept moving from rock to rock and changing color each time. Then we found a lionfish, a Pacific Ocean poisonous fish with few predators in the Atlantic who is fast becoming a ever-growing nuisance. One of the senior divers tried to feed it to a moray eel, but the eel was too small so he killed it and brought it up with us. Finally the air was all up so we came up and in.

Now we are wandering back into Philipsburg today for the Sint Maarten holiday celebrations and a pirate cruise in the evening.
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