Bienvenidisimos amigos Mexicanos!


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Tintirintintin, una calurosisima bienvenida
a nuestros amigos mexicanos!

Date: March 15-22, 2008
Destination: Bligh Water, Gau, Wakaya, Makogai, Fiji
Welcome Back: Ivan Salazar and Mafer C.
Congratulations: Pilar S. on completing the PADI nitrox course.


Fijian abundance.


A very warm welcome back, Ivan Salazar of Mare Nostrum Expediciones of Mexico. Spanish and laughter filled NAI’A as sixteen Mexicans and two Colombians made her their home. Ivan guides a fun loving bunch, and even though he runs a tight ship, where diving safety is paramount, he runs it with lots of humor and gentleness, the perfect balance. He also introduced the ‘pollometro’…. Distributing ‘chicken’ awards to forgotten weight belts and passports, missing computers and lost Captains. The disguise party on the last day was a success, with almost everybody making an appearance, including nuns, pirates, Lawrence of Arabia, fish, sexy Hawaiian dancers, Dr. Lecter in a restraining jacket and the Devil himself…

Samu reef is only our check dive site, and not really representative of Fiji diving, but often this kind of reefs have inhabitants we don’t see anywhere else, like the two juvenile oriental sweetlips we saw this time, which are quite rare in Fiji.

Mafer C. had enthusiasm pouring out of all her pores. She is a school head master, and it must be a real treat for the kids to have her around. She also introduced I-Pod music in the camera room, Latin American songs that reminded me of my home… mil gracias!! She loves soft corals and hard coral gardens, so Fiji is the right place for her… Welcome back, Mafer, always a joy to see you!

Humann Nature and the wreck of Nasi Yalodina were home to more nudibranchs than normal this time. We saw two big Chromodoris kuniei, one Chromodoris coi with eggs, and the lovely Flabellina exoptata, bilas and rubrolineata. We also spotted many scorpionfish, a big school of chevron barracuda, and also one arrowhead crab in the day, a rare sight, and plenty pocilopora coral crabs, looking the same like the coral, with light blue knobs as eyes, very handsome.


Blue-eyed Pocilopora coral crab.
Schooling barracuda at Nigali.


Father Marcos T., mother Luisa A., and three sons Sergio G., Omar G., and Oliver G., brought cuddly family atmosphere to NAI’A. Marcos makes tacos in Mexico, which we would love to try, Luisa had a colorful and spiky hood, and is beautiful inside and out, all smiles, kind and gentle. They both take very much care of their three sons, both in the water and out. Omar and Oliver arrived late but brushed up on their diving skills very fast. Congratulations!!

E6, one of our sea mounds, offered us yet again a close to mystical diving experience. The cavern system is called ‘cathedral’ for good reasons, as the rays of the sunlight come in at an angle, creating curtains of light reflecting on the bottom and on the sides, covered in soft corals and fans…. An underwater I-Pod playing Bach would be so appropriate …

Sofia and Aviva K., two Colombian sisters who dive together whenever they can, reminded me why Colombians are always going to feel like home to me, tenderness and kindness of heart ad infinitum. Mil gracias!!


Sofia and Aviva K.


Charlie’s Garden at Vatu-I-Ra provided us with an excellent night dive, with sightings of flashlight fish, big red coral crabs, a moray eel, scorpionfish, and a robust ghost pipefish.


Juvenile yellow boxfish.
Longnose filefish.
Longnose hawkfish.


Tomas Y., had his own outstanding private spotter in his wife Rosy A. Even though nobody else saw it, we are quite sure she spotted a pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus sp.) at Humann Nature, which would be a spectacular sighting.

Jim’s Alley at Gau did not have the best visibility this time, but we had the chance to follow three mating octopi for most of the dive, as they held on to each other’s tentacles, while they moved along the reef, changing color and texture, a fantastic performance. The school of twenty longfin spadefish is still there, and feeling extremely sociable again, as they surrounded Sofia, Aviva and me on our safety stop, and followed us up to the skiffs. We were so tempted to take them with us, as they looked really sad about our departure.


Texture and color.
Tiger cowrie.
Tozeuma armatum (Hump-backed shrimp).
Trumpetfish under cover.

Luis P., was so excited about spotting his own special pygmy seahorse, that he showed it to all of us during the dive and on the computer. Unfortunately it turned out to be a piece of hydroid… but we still named it after him, of which he was very proud… now he has his own ‘Peluza luisianensis’ on one of Fiji’s reefs. He was the youngest at heart, and, Luis, I promise I will never ever call you ‘Don Luisito’!! We will always remember his wetsuit, covered in paintings of fish and coral, making him look like a wandering reef.

Marco A., a physician, healing both body and soul, and excellent musician, is a follower of his dreams and an excellent example of attitude towards life for us all.


Yellow leaf scorpionfish.
Golden mantis shrimp.


Wakaya is a dream dive and did not fail to amaze yet again. We paid the decorated dartfish and blue-headed tilefish in the deep water a short visit, and ascended along the wall covered in lush soft corals, with big schools of surgeonfish and fusiliers in the blue, mingling with gray reef sharks and Spanish mackerel. The visibility was very clear, and the spectacular soft corals and fans along the pinnacle rims were at their best in the slight incoming current, with the resident colony of lionfish hovering amongst them, and a purple and orange blanket of anthias covering everything. Our critter friends were there too, the yellow leaf scorpionfish was back, and we also saw the golden mantis shrimp and a very friendly octopus, going about its feeding business. As we were hovering on our safety stop, a manta cruised low over one of the pinnacles, ready to get cleaned, not in the least worried about our presence. What a dive!!

Arturo R., also called ‘Roll-on’ by his dearest friends, and Gloria S., tease each other a lot, and everybody else teases him… not her… he obviously deserves it… great disguise outfits you both…. Very scary…


Gorgeous lionfish.
Leaf scorpionfish.


Ron’s Delight at Makogai is always a delight, with all its large and colorful soft corals and the two resident yellow motley leaf fish, of which one is especially friendly, posing for the cameras. We discovered a new adhesive anemone on the top, with two fat popcorn shrimps and a whole family of Thor shrimps doing their sexy dance. The sergeant majors had a hard time all over the reef defending their eggs, especially against clouds of lunar or crescent wrasse and butterflyfish attacking them in great numbers, a very stressful existence.


Popcorn shrimp.
Orangutan crab in bubble coral.


Rick’s Rocks was great, too, as we found a shortnose pipefish, as well as two small orangutan crabs on two different bubble corals, two white leaf fish and a golden mantis shrimp, and saw a hawksbill turtle swimming past. There were many Chromodoris lochi nudibranchs on all the reefs, bunched together on the sponges…. Eating and mating….


Small fish, big teeth!
Feeding coral polyps.


No critter escaped Patricia Z.’s macro lense. She is an excellent and very smiley photographer, and an even better organizer, as she took it on herself to run after everybody for the last day’s slide show. Thank you, too, for the music!

Makogai village hosted yet another very lively and enjoyable meke for us, with plenty kava and scary warriors. Vinaka Makogai!


Makogai village visit.
Empty kava bowl.


Juan and Pilar S., brother and sister, took good care of each other above and underwater. Juan’s devil-hood and Pilar’s devil disguise were very matching. Congratulations on your nitrox certificate, Pilar.

Golden Sunset greeted us with a bit of a current, rewarding our efforts with the sighting of two silvertip sharks off the deeper pinnacles, a rare sight and always gorgeous.

Our last dives were at Nukuravula, a definite highlight dive, as it has one of the most stunning reef tops ever, with its large concentration of purple soft corals and pink fans, and the biggest density of anthias and chromis ever, all blanketed in fusiliers and surgeonfish. This time we had the added bonus of hearing dolphins squeaking during the whole dive, and Sergio and Pilar, who decided to snorkel instead of diving, had a long swim with about one hundred Spinner dolphins playing all around them, only a few feet away, what a rare treat and what a way to end a diving holiday.


Beautiful NAI'A.
Black-blotched Porcupinefish.
Bubble art.
Crinoid forest.


Guest Comments

Beautiful sea
Great islands
Gorgeous people!
?, Mexico

You are good friends, thanks for your grand service.
I had very happy holidays!
Arturo R., Coyoacan, Mexico


Why we keep coming back for more...


A toda la tripulacion 1000 gracias por su hospitalidad, por compartir sus costumbres, arrecifes y dejarnos sentir como en casa, gracias Sonia por tu paciencia para bucear y tambien fuera del agua otra vez 1000 gracias.
Gloria S.L., Coyoacan, Mexico

For all your attention and disposition to help us to enjoy this wonderful trip,
for your happiness and for your kava I can only say:
Thank you very much!!
Rosy A., Coyoacan, Mexico

Queridos Amigos:
La naturaleza se inspiro para crear los arrecifes de Fiji, y ustedes han hecho un gran trabajo para protegerlos. Muchas felicidadades.
Pasar una semana en NAI’A es experimentar esa sensacion de estar en casa, rodeado de amigos.
Hasta la proxima
Ivan Salazar, Mare Nostrum Expediciones y Revista Espacio Profundo, Mexico DF




Thank you very much for everything.
Thank you for your hospitality.
Thank you for sharing your waters with us,
but most of all, thank you for sharing your kava…
Juan Enrique S.C., Huixquilucan, Mexico

A toda la tripulacion, en especial a Sonia
Todas son unas excelentes personas y formidables anfitriones, siempre estan sonrientes, fue un verdadero placer conocer a su pais y a su gente.
Que Dios los bendiga.
Pilar S.C., Queretaro, Mexico

Thanks Crew,
because you always gave me a smile when I needed it.
Sonia eres incredible, me diste tanto carino que me senti parte de tu familia, gracias por tu preocupacion y tu carino.
Tu tranquilidad me hacia sentir muy apapachada,
te voy a extranar
Luisa A.B., Mexico DF


Flying Luisa.


I am a 48 year old military physician from Mexico, now retired from the Army, but working hard in a private practice as a neurologist. I tell you all this just to explain how meaningful this experience was to me: my life is getting complete by doing the wonderful things that I started to dream of many years ago, as a child. People like you, dreamers and workers, dream makers, dream performers, make me, make us, part of a dream.
I am sure, if the Lord let me do so, that before dying, I will have the joy of tasting and remembering all these precious moments.
Thank you for sharing with us, and making our dreams a reality.
Marco A., Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico

Ademas de los buceos, la calidez y atencion de la tripulacion hicieron placentero el viaje.
Especialmente la atencion de Sonia.
Luis P., Mexico DF




A todos:
Gracias por dejarnos conocer este paradisiaco lugar. Gracias por mostrarnos la hermosura de este lugar y la belleza, calidez y amabilidad de su gente.
Esta semana fue aun mas especial gracias a toda la tripulacion.
Sonia gracias mil por tu humor, calidez y simpatia.
Gracias otra vez a todos.
Aviva K., North Miami Beach, FL, USA


Ivan Salazar
Mare Nostrum Expediciones and Revista Espacio Profundo (DAN official journal for Latinamerica)


Whitetip reef shark.


Ivan Salazar.
Mafer C.
Arrowhead crab.
Marcos T.
Luisa A.
Sergio G.
Omar G.
Oliver G.
Coral hermit crab.
Sofia K.
Aviva K.
Coral polyp art.
Tomas Y.
Rosy A.
Crinoid beauty.
Luis P.
Marco A.
Nuestro doctor subacuatico.
Sea spider.
Arturo R.
Gloria S.
Patricia Z.
Juan S.
Pilar S.