Most folks will have snorkelled at some point in their lives while on holiday. That trip to Spain or somewhere with the family or friends, you get the mask and the tube from a cheap trinket store and bob up and down in the water, face submerged, sunburning the skin off your back.
Today we went snorkelling in the Silfra Fissure, which is a little bit different to snorkelling in climes warmer. For a start the mask is not the only bit of gear you need.
After an early start to get to the tour pick up we had a thirty minute drive to the Silfra Fissure, water temperature being two degrees. This being the "warm" time to jump in the water. Our guide, a guy that went by the name of Loki, passed out all the gear that would be needed in order to get into the water.
First of was the teddy suit which was literally a sleeping bag that had arms and legs in it. Once inside and zipped up it was comfy as hell. Next you put on the dry suit, with a little help getting the damn thing on and closed because of the material. The funny thing about the dry suit is that in order to make it fit as snug as possible you have to hold open the neck ring a little and squat down, pressing out all the air inside the suit. Our guide explained that failure to do this would result in much bobbing up and down in the water as all the trapped air turned you into a sudo-inflatable dingy. With the shrink wrap completed we got the gloves, hood and flippers and were ready to roll.
Off we set for the ten minute walk through the hills to the fissure itself. The guide explained how to put on the flippers, clear out the mask, all that good stuff. My favourite part of the talk was when he explained that the face area is all that will be exposed to water.
"So, you know, after two minutes your face will go all numb and the cold won't be that much of a problem for you."
Ah Loki, if it wasn't for the Avengers I probably would have trusted everything you said without question.
Anyway we got into the water and started to snorkel.
Now, as I said at the start of the rant we've probably all done this at some point in our lives. My only problem was trying to think of when I'd done it in so clear water. Loki explained that the waters in the fissure have been filtered through volcanic rocks for about six hundred years, so they are fairly crystal clear by the time they gather in the fissure. Meaning we were able to see under water to depths of about one hundred metres without any problems at all.
There was no underwater life to look at on the trip but that in no way detracted from the enjoyment of it. Tunnels and holes and rock formations caused by eruptions centuries ago all for the viewing pleasure. The waters even had a "lazy man" current in them, meaning you literally just had to float and look about the place and the waters carried you along.
It was pure relaxation at its best.
It wasn't even all that cold, thanks mainly to the suits that we wore. The gloves did very little in the way of keeping my hands warm but you could float easily enough with them behind your back, out of the water and semi-warm. We even bought a disposable camera to take some underwater shots as we went.
At the end of the trip as we marched back to the van Loki lived up to his namesake of being a mischievous bastard. He brought us up to the top of a small hill that over looked the start of the fissure and said it was tradition to jump in before getting into the van to go home. Myself and the lady friend didn't need to be asked twice and we followed him like morons into the freezing cold depths. Despite having spend the best part of an hour in the waters suddenly being splashed in the face by them is like having a thousand knives thrown at your skin.