Thursday, 24 June 2010

Day 4: Coral reef diving, exploring an Indian village, alligator wrestling and airboat ride

Hi all

Another fun packed day of very different experiences; diving, a visit to a Miccosukee Indian village, alligator wrestling (luckily this was an activity we watched and did not have to participate in) and an airboat ride. Mario wrote a great blog that sums up the day perfectly. So just sit back and enjoy.

Mario's Blog
Today I started off heading toward Bache bay to scuba dive in the coral. It was about an hour ride out to our dive spot.
Due to the windy weather and turbulent winds we had to choose another spot. Bache had an average depth of 10-13 feet. The visibility was low but the dive was still enjoyable.
I dived about 29 minutes on my first dive, but the adventure didn’t stop there! We navigated our way to another dive spot called the shrimp boat. A nurse shark lived here but neither my friends or I was able to spot it. The surge continued its turbidity in this dive as well. The shrimp boat wreck could be found just off the anchor line of the boat. This dive was shortened because of the lack of remaining air in our tanks(we dived two areas with one tank). The coral reefs found in both of these areas were very colorful and abundant. To abstain from causing harm to the reefs I had to stay a good distance above the reefs.

The following photographs of undersea life were taken by the NAB Youth, I think they did a great job, Ed
Beautiful coral and sea fans
Brain coral
 More coral
 Sea fans

French angelfish
Two French angelfish
More corals
A small grouper lurking
Lobsters on the shrimp boat site

After diving and getting some lunch, we headed over to the Miccosukee village to learn about the heritage and history of the Miccosukee Indians.
Our tour of their village started off with our guide starting a fire the traditional Miccosukee way! We all sat around in a Chickee as our guide set up a pyramid of cut wood and our guide started a breeze to incite the embers.
It wasn’t long before we were being warmed, not only the growing fire but the passionate past and the current struggle of the Miccosukee Indians to remember to not only remember their ways but to pass it along for the centuries to come. Miccosukee women spent most of the village teaching the daughters and cooking the animals hunted by their husbands and the growing sons.
Miccosukee women with different things to sell
The Miccosukee people use sewing machines to sew fabric

Miccosukee hand made dolls
Me with Sam and Lisa by a beautiful totem pole

I was shown the unique way in which a canoe was crafted, if done right, it would last over 25 years.
Miccosukee canoe

A conch shell was wedged and driven into a tree until the tree split in half. Afterwards the center of the tree was burned to make it easier to carve.
It would usually take an average of six months to finish, but if done right, it was worth the time and effort. This same skill was set upon carving toys for the little boys and girls of the village; I was shown a toy boat and a training boy for young boys.

The girls of the village didn’t get off easy though! We were shown many patterns unique to the tribe. These were done by hand in the older times of the village. The triangles represented the water and there were bird designs as well. We were also shown the crops native to the land and the crops that were brought by the Spanish.
Me and Lisa

We finally made our way the alligator show. Here the alligator wrestler performed feats that defied logic and our wildest imaginations.
We were shown the ancient way in which the Miccosukee Indians captured the alligators and took them back to the village. The wrestler straddled the 250 lb. alligator and grabbed the mouth and placed it between his chin and chest, simulating a way to free the hands and tie up the alligator.
The wrestler also opened the jaws containing 80 teeth and placed his hand in the alligator’s mouth. He withdrew his hand with a split second to spare as the jaws snapped shut with a pressure so great, it’s thump was heard throughout the stadium. He continued to do this trick three more times! Finally the wrestler performed a trick called the face-off., meaning that if there was one false move the alligator would snap his face off,.
We all trembled on the edge of our seats in anticipation as the alligator wrestler placed his face and hand into the gaping jaws of the beast. The stadium erupted as the audience clapped and took pictures of the amazing feat.

Finally, my trip ended with an airboat ride.
Putting cotton wool balls in our ears

The boat was able to reach speeds of 35 mph! As we ripped through the water, glimpses of the beautiful view flashed through my eyes.
Thanks to the cotton balls in my ears, I was able suppress the sound of the boat.

As I headed home I reminisced on the fascinating memories I had made an the change that occurred within in me as I added to my knowledge, but most of all my experiences and the wisdom it wold provide me in the future.

Wow, another amazing day and all the more enjoyable being with my new friends. I enjoyed the diving and seeing all the beautiful coral and fish. The visit to the Miccosukee was also very special. As you know I have also visited other Indian villages on my tour, in particular the Port Gamble S’klallam Tribal Reservation (Washington State) with friends Ron Hirshi and Fred the Monkey and also Taholah in the Quinault Indian Nation during my trip to the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The crocodile wrestling was fascinating but a bit scary. The airboat ride was amazing skimming over the water, I'm glad they gave us ear plugs because the airboats are really noisy.

Bye for now, a very tired Ed.

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