Intro to Cave Diving

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
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128
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Trip End Jan 31, 2012


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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 1

Unfortunately the boat trip had me go in the opposite direction to which I planned to travel next. Ended up adding and extra 5hrs or so to my journey north.

Started in Placencia with a 6:15am chicken bus to Dangaria with the intent to get at least to one side or the other of the mexican-belize border. Nice ride through the countryside of Belize. Lots of mountains and jungle along the way. Pity I didnt get the chance to visit Pine Mountain Ridge or the ruins near Orange walk but waiting for the trip dpwn the coast chewed up some time.

Knees feeling a bit better. Guess the cool salt water helped with reducing the swelling. No longer tender to the touch but still feels a bit fat so a few more quite days are probably in order.

Reach Dangria and had a 20min wait for the connecting bus at 10:30. Managed to reach Belize around lunch time and saw what looked like a first class bus (which I was guessing might be heading to Mexico) pull out as I was pulling into the station. Thankfully the bus stopped outside the station and the ticket guy came inside looking for any extra passangers. As a result didnt get stuck waiting for a bus north.

Spent another 4hrs on a bus before crossing the border into Mexico which once again involved getting out of the bus a couple of time to get through imigration. Fairly painless and with just enough cash to cross the border. Upon reaching chetumal found an ATM so I wasnt pennyless and headed to the ADO bus station to get a bus to Tulum. Could probably of caught the bus to Playa Del Carmen but decided on having a night in Tulum since it meant I could visit the ruins before continuing north.

Had a 30min wait for the bus to Tulum and another 4hr bus ride which got me into Tulum around 7pm. Found a hostel and decided to go for a wander. Luckily wandered past a dive shop and ended up deciding on doing a dive in the Cenotes the next day. While I might have been able to find a cheaper rate somewhere else the upside was that it would be just me and the divemaster and I could choose the locations I dived from a list rather than getting stuck with the sights chosen by the dive shop.

Day 2
Given the knee is not 100% and my experience in Caye Caulker, decided to dive with my knee brace on.

Meet my divemaster for the day, Rodriguz (from Chile), and headed to the first dive spot. The Pit! After a bit of a drive ended up having to do a bit of serios 4WD to reach the entrance into the sink hole. Got stuck on some rocks in a few places which to some time to navigate over.

Pit dive basically involved a 6m jump into a sink hole then a 45m decent to visit some bone. I believe that the bottom of teh hole goes down to about 120m and there are a number of tunnels that join the cenotes. Visit the safety lines of a couple of these dives and went a little way down them. Used a torch for the whole dive though there was a fair bit of light in a lot of places from the hole above. Learnt a hole bunch of new dive signals to be used with the torch.

100% visibility in the water. From 30m or so down I could look up and see the bubble heading to the surface. Could also see the the opening above with the sun shining through the surface and the trees hanging over the hole. Think I could spend a whole dive just floating and looking up at the hole.

Sinkhole had lots of stalagtites, stalagmites and coulmns in it that you could swim through. Also I guess with the water must distribute the light more evenly and efficiently than air since I could see a lot clearer than I had the previous times I walked through some caves.

Two other interesting points about the dive were going through sulphuric acid (I think it was sulphuric something but what got lost in translations) and the helocline. In the Sulphuric something or other it got foggy and dark (I think). It got very black at one point and the light didnt shine very far and I assume this was the point we were swimming through it.

Swimming through the helocline was also interesting. This is basically the point where the fresh water that sits on top of the seawater (or is it the other way) meet. At this point basically everything goes blurry. I gues it would be like someone who doesnt wear glasses trying on a pair of glasses. Its not that you cant see but rather things start to look a bit trippy.

Was told by Rodriguz about a dive he did which involved 3hrs of diving through a tunnel to get from one cenotes to another. While I really enjoyed the dive and think I would like to get my caving license so I go go explore the sink holes in Mount Gambier I dont think I trust my gear enough to do such a long dive. Think I would prefer to just use a safety line, explore some tunnels and caves near the entrance and then follow the line back out.

On the way up stopped off in a diving bell where you could sit out of the water. Was told that for long-deep dives air tanks would be placed inside and you could make as many as 5 such stops on the way to the surface.

Second dive was at the Grand Cenotes. This was a shallower dive and involved swimming among statlagites and mights again. Did a little bit of exploring but never to far from the guide line. Another nice dive.

Headed back into town after the last dive before heading back out to do a snorkling trip to Dos Ojes. Couldnt really afford another dive and given my camera is waterproof though Id try to get a few photos. In the end think I would have preferred diving here and snorkling at the gran Cenote.

Guide we had for the snorkling trip (required to enter bat cave) was drunk. Could smell the alcohol and he kept talking about tequilla. Cant say he did a bad job though. Got the impressions hes been a guide for a long time. While snorling went down and swam through a few small holes and to get a view of the divers in the parts of the cave that were completely submerged.

Highlight was a visit to the bat cave which had lot of stalagtites and whose entrace only had a little bit of clearance. On the way out the guide took off a bit fast and since I was at the back ended up being left in the dark a bit causing me to bump my head. Thankfully only a bit of sking from a graze and no cut.

Headed back to Tulum and since I had made friend with Rodriguz was offered a ride to Playa Del Carmen as well as being invited to go along with him and his friends to the Jazz festival being held there. Decided to accept the offer even though it got me into town later than I had planned. While driving there asked about al the police check points and they seem to be there to look for cocaine.

Dropped my bags off at the hostel and had some kentucky fried chicken for tea before heading to the Jazz festival. Could understand why they were so excited abut Kentucky chicken until I was told that the store only opened a couple of weeks ago. First band we heard (second for the night I think) was pretty bad by my standards. I really dnt like it when one of the instruments runs off randomly at a tangent to the rest of the music every nce in a while. The next band was a bit simular but at least in this case I didnt mind the guitar (spanish guitar sound). Ended up leaving during this act since some people had to be up early for work the next morning and I didnt think it polite to ditch the guys so I also called it a night.




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