Pietra Boca Grande in the Jardines de la Reina is the area of operations of Avalon, the Italian/Cuban company that has the exclusive rights for the tourism business in the entire region. From what the head of the operation on site told us, no more than 500 divers per year are allowed to dive these waters, an area around 300 square kilometers !
Those who willing to scuba dive this region can only do through Avalon and this applies also to private transiting boats like us. The receptivity of their structures is limited to 8 rooms at the floating Hotel in Palapa Tortuga and a dozen of cabins distributed between two diving boats.
Well we were not aware of that and we went for a "do it yourself"!
On March 19, the first day in Pietra Boca Grande, we decided to take a dive off the pass, about half a mile off the reef .
We chose one of the buoys Avalon placed in the area and and after having left Angelique II securely anchored in about two meters of water inside the pass, we reached the buoy with our dinghy.
Secured the dinghy to the buoy we started to prepare our equipment for the dive.
Completed this stage I was about to help Valentina wearing her BCD when we noticed that the dinghy was surrounded by 5/6s sharks circling us.
A melting pot of feelings caught us: enthusiasm, excitement, amazement, but also a little of fear, which within a minute turned at least for Valentina in a firm " no, I'm not going in the water with those friends there" .
It had been years that I hear of the Jardines and his sharks and now that I was there certainly I could not get away. So enthusiasm, excitement and amazement prevailed on fear., so I said " Let me do it " and I jumped into the water.
Sharks reacted moving few meters away from the dinghy and also alite more deep.
I began my descent to the bottom, along the rope which secures the buoy to the bottom.
Reached the bottom at -28 meters, I sheltered myself at the top of a gully in order to have at least my back protected by a wall.
In few seconds I saw several large groupers and a large turtle, but Sharks were my goal.
It took Just a few seconds to realize that I was their goal as well!
They started spinning around me before at a distance of few meters, then closer and closer until they got to touch the flashes of my camera, which is less than half a meter away from me until I had to start using the flash arms extended to their maximum length to keep them away from me.
At that moment the fear has once again prevailed over enthusiasm, excitement, wonder and I thought it would be really foolish to risk an accident and I decided to try to reach the surface .
With a bit of courage I dropped my refuge in the corner and I swem to the bottom of the buoy.
Immediately sharks (at that point about a dozen ) have moved away a few meters, returning to the initial circle .
Getting closer to the surface and having them at a more relaxing distance, I regained tranquillity and I even decided to make my safety stop for 3 minutes at 4.5 meters.