After a successful first mission with my scuba team in Cayman Islands, we decided Mexico for our second escapade. November 2007 Renato , Johnny F, Johnny D and myself booked the RIU Palace in Riviera Maya. Nick, our fifth member of the team, had yet to travel with us. The hotel was gorgeous and seeing it was off-season, the nightly rate was a complete steel. Upon checking in, the staff was putting up all Christmas decorations. Kind of strange seeing Christmas trees when it is 30 degrees Celsius outside.
We head down to local dive shop and book a charter for the “Tortuga Reef”. A dive site known for its great corals and many turtles. While we are registering, the beautiful palm trees swaying in the light morning wind along with the clear blue waters waving in and out of the shore, we catch a glimpse of something even more appealing. A yoga class, with very attractive women, was in progress. Their stretching exercises were such that their upper torso was bent at a 90 degree without bending their knees. With the beautiful beach scene, coupled with a yoga class, we had to make a quick decision. Do we dive or do we stay. A quick vote was rendered. We dive. In the ocean that is. The chartered boat arrives, we gear up exactly like trained Navy Seals, and off the mission we set.
The run was exactly like promised. Great corals and awesome turtles. During our certification course, it was repeated very often that all divers need to stay coupled together within a safe distance should any malfunction occur while underwater. This way the chances of solving any unexpected issue is at its greatest with the help of your “buddy”. For some reason we forgot about that most important rule. A turtle gently passed us and with no hesitation, we all followed it for quite some time. A friendly turtle gliding flawlessly around 60 feet. With all the excitement, we were unaware of the equalizing issue Johnny F had so he stayed around the 15 feet elevation. Johnny F has had some issues with his ears and equalizing was something that took longer than the rest of us. We later come to find out from his dive computer that there was an instant he may have lost consciousness in which he doesn’t remember. All turned out okay, but one important lesson was learned. Dive in pairs.
The next day, we booked a Cenote dive with Chac Mool. A dive charter that drives us in a forest, locates an opening in the soil, and confirms with us that a whole new world exists below the forest grounds. This was definitely something different. My mind kept thinking if anything malfunctions, we can’t just rise to the surface. We would have to back track our underwater path to the opening. I fought my mind off, and after our debriefing from the master diver, we plunge in.
At first my heart was pounding and asking myself what on earth am I doing. We all followed each other using a cord directing us where to go. As we were getting deeper and the walls closing in on us, the peak rock formations were breathtaking. We were actually under the forest ground and seeing many tree roots.
At certain points, we used our flashlights to see 2 feet in front of us. At one point the dive master signals us to move up the water level and we find ourselves in the inside of a mountain. Here we are, 5 heads out of the water, staring straight up at all the rock formation. No way out except going back under water. We actually remove our regulator and breath the little air inside the “cenote”. What a feeling. We place our regulators back in our mouths, bleed out the air in our vest and slowly sink to the bottom and continue our flow.
In certain areas, we see some openings in the rocks that allow the sun to penetrate causing a spectacular curtain of sun rays. At this point, even though the danger level was high, it was the least of my worries. The underwater scenery was out of this world.
The second dive mission was truly amazing and as quickly we’re back on the plane reminiscing the experience, our planning for the 3rd one has already begun. Costa Rica here we come.