In Cuba, scuba diving, bucear, is pretty much only for tourists because it’s not affordable to Cubans. It really bothers me that vacations, hotels, and many recreational activities are basically off limits to Cubans because their salaries don’t support the ability to purchase non-necesities. Anyway, Noel is a dive master and taught scuba diving at Hotel Bucanero after he got his internacional diving license in France. One day I got to try out scuba diving at Sierra Mar, a hotel where one of Noel’s old colleagues still works as a diving instructor. We went on the Triumph and took the coastal highway, about 70 kilometers. Noel didn’t have to pay to scuba dive, and I only payed for a single dive, not the initiation or equipment, so it ended up being affordable. First I learned how to use the mask, and then the scuba tank and gear. I also learned the underwater hand signals and how to relieve the pressure build up in the ears. We did a test submersion in the hotel pool. I love swimming and had no trouble learning how to use the equipment, everyone was impressed. When Noel’s colleague Manolito took off to take out a group of tourists to snorkel, Noel taught me how to assemble and disassemble the tank and vest. We headed back to the diving center to wait for Manolito. When he got back, we boarded a small boat and took off toward the reef. We sat on the edge of the boat and then fell into the water, tank first, holding our noses. That was so cool, I loved that part. Noel and Manolito had to put some extra weights in my vest and then we sank down to the reef. I saw trumpet fish, eight lobsters, a sea spider, huge fish with giant bulging eyes, corals, a sea horse, and bright polka dotted fish, and a fish with long black spindly spikes all over it. We ended up diving 18 meters which is pretty much unheard of for an initiation dive. It was amazing and so quiet under the water. It was hard at first to find balance in the current and how to rise and descend in the water. Manolito and Noel helped me out a lot, and I sometimes held Noel’s hand. It ended up being the most perfect day.