Day 5: Ginnie Springs

Today we venture "off property". Having gone to bed late yesterday night, the alarm clock is set to 8 AM. It also happens to be switched off. We get out of bed only at 8:40.

We have a reservation for a car which is waiting for us at the "Car Care Center". This, we have been told, is close to Magic Kingdom parking lot at the Disney Transportation Center. After packing all our dive gear - 1 suitcase and 2 backpacks - we first take a bus to EPCOT. There we want to board a Monorail train to the Transportation Center. Before we do so, our bags get a thorough security check. At the Transportation Center, cast members direct us to the kennel. The staff here calls for someone from the Car Care Center to come pick us up. It really isn't easy to get to our rental car!

We get a free upgrade to a "novelty car" which turns out to be a HHR - a car with an interesting shape that truly has not been designed for aerodynamics. The flat trunk will turn out to be a very convenient platform for slipping our buoyancy compensator vests on and off.

Susanne does all the driving today. It takes about two hours to get to Ginnie Springs. At the park entrance, we rent diving equipment. Then we are off to dive on our own.

First, we head for the Ginnie Spring. This area is made of a bowl shaped depression measuring over 30m across. A 45m run connects the basin to the Santa Fe river. The river however is dark with debris suspension. Visibility is close to zero. We head back to the main basin. At the deepest point of the basin is the entrance to the "Ballroom" cavern. We are not aware that we may enter despite lacking certification for cave diving. We did not bring lights and probably wouldn't have dared entering anyway.

We get back in the car - all wet - and drive the very short distance to the "Devil Spring System". We enter the water at "Little Devil". From there we swim to the "Devil's Eye", a 6m depression. Swimming on, we again hit the dark river. We return down into the "Devil's Eye". Then we head back to the "Little Devil". This time around, temptation is stronger than apprehension. We dive down 10m into the narrow fracture.

Now we are ready for a hot shower. At 22°, the water in the spring was not actually cold, yet not nearly as warm as the tropical waters we are used to.

We end the day with an abundant dinner at "Boma", the buffet restaurant at "Animal Kingdom Lodge". The buffet includes a variety of delicious African dishes: curries, sweet potatoes, couscous, coconut rice, humus, ... 

We conclude a way too copious meal with an absolutely delicious chocolate mousse. 

© 2008 Susanne & Pierre Bernard - Text & Images