My diving Paradise
Trip Start Feb 28, 2010
50Trip End Jul 18, 2010
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Where I stayed
I had just come from the Galapagos Islands so it was natural for me to assume that whatever this little island has to offer, couldnt possibly compare to what i had just experienced off the coast of Ecuador.
So what do i take away from this.....................NEVER ASSUME!
Firstly a word of advice: When travelling, if your plane needs to make a stopover before flying to your final destination, its probably a good idea to avoid making that stopover in the U.S (unless that stopover is in Austin TX, of course ;-) Reason being, if you are a young male aged between 18-30, have a middle eastern background and have just been traveling South America, odds are it will not make out to be a smooth entry or exit...just saying :)
Over the last 3 months of traveling South America i have not had a single problem with the airlines as check in has been quick and painless on over 20 flights
This time I had chosen a flight path that was stopping into Houston Texas (I wish it had been Austin) before departing for Cancun.
Ive managed to nail down the exact point where i had become a suspect, its at check in in Ecuador where everything seems fine and dandy with the clerk until she puts a little red mark on the top right corner of your flight documents........this means "POSSIBLE THREAT - REQUIRES SEARCHING"! So here i am in Quito airport at 4:30am being ushered into the "special" line where they take you downstairs for special treatment.
At this point the guard begins to ask me questions, where i then fire back solid answers leaving me bulletproof.....so he then decides to take it to the next step and empty all 23Kg of my life right in front of me only to find nothing.....except when he took a big whiff of my dirty laundry bag...Hahahahaha classic moment, wish i had the camera of the look on his face after he inhaled.
Note this bag took me 20 mins to pack the night before and when he gave me the go ahead to repack it at 4:30am after HE unpacked it, there was only one thing running through my mind....lets just say i had visions...and those visions did not end well for that guard.
For this reason and at this point in time, flying into the U.S for my trip to Mexico did not seem like the best idea
Anyhooooooooo, once leaving Texas (why did I not stop into Austin!) and making it into Cancun, i catch the first bus going south to Playa Del Carmen (BTW impressive beach!) to board the next ferry heading out to Cozumel island. Once i arrive it was obvious that i was meant to be here, not to mention my accommodation was also pretty sweet :)
The night rolled in fast, so i set out to stroll downtown and check the place out....one thing was certain, this place attracts its fair share of holiday makers from all over, especially North American's. Naturally. Mexico is the neighboring country, so it makes for a fantastic getaway especially for those interested in pristine beaches and untapped coastlines, which is the
vast majority of those living in the States. The shores of Mexico offer the closest haven to spectacular coastlines and the more people that are lucky to experience such a beauty, the better. For those who dont, I urge them to take advantage of this country for all its worth and make the journey
A relaxing day goes by and ive already made a short visit to a beach on the "other side" of the island where i enjoyed a quick mexican feed and a few beers while lazing in a Hamock. Soon i decide to head back to town (caught a lift with a local heading back that way) to catch a ferry back to the Playa Del Carmen to experience the turquoise clear water i saw the day i arrived.
These Caribbean waters are all theyre made out to be, the celar, calm and warm...warm enough that you could spend the whole day in the water which is exactly what i did....im not one for laying on the sand especially when i dont have a big enough towel :-I
Now even when im in this water i find it hard to believe that such a colour exists and i found myself constantly reminding myself that it does, and im in it. I guess youll have to look at the photos to believe it, i know i still do.
After a swim which lasted about 2 hours i decided to head further south along the coastal beach where after 20 minutes of treading the white sands, i stumbled upon hundreds of bathers currently in vacation mode... I now come to the conclusion that Ive stumbled upon what seems to be one of Springs Breaks' ultimate destinations for visitors from the North
Shortly after, my tummy rumbled and forced me to head back north, where I found myself being served with a sizzling beef/chicken Fajta and an ice cold cerveza. Man, how awesome it was! Now i began to plan out this trip for the real reason why i chose to come to this specific island. DIVING!!!
Before you get all excited thinking Oh wow, were gonna get to see some underwater pics and vids....think again. As ive mentioned before, my camera is rated to only 10m, and naturally all my dives compfortably exceeded that lousy depth. So unfortunately all underwater experiences will ahve to be communicated through words.
The following morning im buzzing with excitement and am up early, about to experience my first scuba dive in open water that is not part of my training. Its been about 3 weeks since i last dove in Colombia and im about to immerse myself in whats known as the 2nd best scuba diving location on the planet! Wow, what a rush!
After gearing up and signing all the papers, i get on the boat which takes us out about an hours south of the loading point where we make our first dive...........
As i roll off the edge of the boat for the first of many plunges im amazed to see how far i can see ahead. The visibility here is at leadt 50-70m ahead of me, and i can make out the hundered of colours on the ocean floor from 25m above at the surface.
This dive saw us going down a coral wall where as we descended we were surprised by moray eels and slow moving turtles, along with hundreds of colourful fish. At this moment i realise ive just become part of another world.. Avatar style.
That morning after surfacing on the boat for about an hour, we head back out for our second and final dive for the day in the shallow waters to cruise along with the current at a blitzing speed, where the ocean floor was rushing by us at around 5m per second.....at this stage i decided it was time to hang out upside down and just go with a flow....Woooohhhoooooooo what a feeling. If you want to see what it looks like to dive Cozumel, do a google image search of "cozumel scuba diving". Its the best i can do for you.
After that incredible dive i was hooked, but i felt i needed to get something out of the way before i booked another dive, and another, and another....
A few years back i watched a fishing show about fishingt he waters of Mexico, and at that time i put a mental not to fish these waters, so that was the plan for the next day.
That morning hoovered down a reasonable sized breakfast and met up with the capatin of my boat, it was at this stage which i knew what type of trip this was going to be.
As i got on, he communicated with me with a single wave as he sat at on the top deck, and left all the communication up to his son.....the whole 5 words!!!!
I come out on this trip promised and expecting to hook some big fish like Marlin, El Dorado or even Tuna but after a couple of hours of waiting, rehydrating and more waiting, the only thing we hook was an 80cm Wahu. A nice fish with a good fight, but a single fish was hardly worth the 4 hour trip.
So after a dissapointing half day, i needed something to boost my spirit..fast. That afternoon i quickly signed up for another 2 dives and headed out for my second underwater adventure, and returning just in time to catch the sunset over the horizon.
Note to self: A good dive always cures a bad fishing day
That night i met up with a few local friends i met a couple days before, and hung out till the night burnt itslef out paving the way for a few memorable nights ahead in the No Name Bar at Hotel Barracuda.
OK, so ive beached, ive fished and i dove....what to do next???
DIVE,DIVE,DIVE. So the enxt day i dove again, heading out to a new location off the coastline to familiarise myself with this new world ive been introduced to and to begin regulating my breathing (you see, the deeper you go, the more air you use which mean the less time you get to stay down there...and for me the more time the better) by trying new breathing techniques.
Not yet mastering the technique, i mentally plan out my next few dives and head out for the night to chill out with a few games of Jenga complete with some of the finest Mexican beer in the world (Yes the verdict is out and Meican beer is the greatest).
This night im reminded by Betza (No Name Bartender) of why Mexico is one of the top diving spots on the planet and why i chose to come here......the Cenote Caves
Cave diving at its best. About 2 years ago while watching National Geographic i saw video footage of divers entering these caves, but these arent ordinary caves, theyre special.
The water in these caves is both fresh water and salt water, where the fresh water is on top and the salt on the bottom and a clear destinction can be seen between the two as you descent through the layers. As i watched this program, i locked it in as a 'must do for the Chad'. So it was settled, taking Betsaz advice i decided that my 14th dive was going to be in a totally enclosed cavern, where i would finally make this dream a reality.
The most anticipated day of my this trip arrives and im on a ferry back to the mainland for a rendevouz with a group of divers preparing for a cave dive.
Two hours later we arrive for gearing up in preparation for the plunge of a lifetime, its at this stage where the adrenalin starts to kick in.
Looking at the entrance to the Chac Mool Cave it doesnt look like much, its basically a small rock pool with a natural overhang and has all kinds of crap floating on the surface......but wait, somewhere along the rocky exterior theres and entrance about 3 metres below the surface, and after testing my boyancy in my first time fresh water dive, i descend with my eyes wide open and.........WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW
Its at this moment where i truly wish i could have taken the camera down to these depths to share this experience with you and keep it for myself, the sight is MAGNIFICENT
Take a moment and google image search "chac mool cenote" TO witness what i saw before reading on.
Im telling you this could easily be the single most greatest experience of my entire existence!
As we manouvered our way through the caverns i couldnt help by descend into the lower salt water haze even if the other didnt...i needed to. So what does it feel like, well theres a clear definition of the two layers as everything suddenly gets hazy, you can no longer see a clear 500m ahead of you but only 15...so i continued to drop where it all clears up and even better the water is about 10 degrees warmer, a rare feeling indeed.
Once our fist dive was complete, we return to the surface in amazement and swithc tanks to prepare for the second dive, and OMG what a dive.
If youve ever watched national geographic youll know what im talking about, as we weaved through millions of years of creation we surfaced at the only air pocket wdeep within the caves where we trully felt like a Nat Geo crew recording a show. The air down here was being fed through a single crack in the earths crust which sent a beam of sunlight the size of a handball straight down intot he clear water. The ceiling at some points stretched so low it felt like it was closing in on you, but awesome
I will admit is was a bit freaky swimming in a cave and not being able to see anything for short periods of time, but when youre down there after you turn a corner you realise why you decided to come down in the first place.
It was truly a special treat in scuba and a must do in every divers life.
Well, now that was done so time to celebrate and head back to the island to catch up and share this experience with my new friends in Cozumel.
It was this night where i was reintroduced to Fabiola, another local who offered to take me out to the other side of the island for a day and experience a real beach with limited people.
We had a great time that day, enjoying the Mexican beach and sand in all its glory.....along with a few Mexican beers. (Did i mention theyre the best in the world)
Time to dive....again.
I woke up the next morning and booked myself in for yet another dive, which after trying out several companies decided to return to the best one, which i made sure i praised the crew and boat for it proffesionalism and cost
Well, ofcourse i had to say something because as we were about half way out to the dive sight, the engine decides to fail. Not to worry though, after an hour and a half waiting in the crisping sun, a second boat finally arrived of which we transeferred our gear onto and continued out to finish the dive. Another awesome dive, this time coming close to perfecting my breathing, im almost there.
Bones are begging to ache, ears are struggling to unblock but im feeling super calm as my muscles have been stretched all over the place, so tonight we decided to chill out yet again and head out to the cinemas for some comedic relief. We saw 'Shes out of my league' that night, which turned out to be a pretty fun movie.
So ive arrived to what is about to be my second last day on teh island, so i must dive because diving the day before you fly is not recommended.
Same deal, i wake up, shovel down some brecky and board the boat of which will provide me with my final 2 dives of the trip.
SUCCESS!!! My final dive and ive mastered my breathing. This time crusing the depths and swimming through multiple overhangs where i swam with a 2m nurse shark and a 1.5m barracuda!!
That evening i head back to the beachside bar for a feed, some Jenga and a few posed shots in the sunset. Awesome day now locked in my memeory forever.
The final day as i mentioned earlier is diveless, so i make my way out to the other side of the island for a day of chillin with the sand and waters all to myself, not to mention the hamocks and non stop supply of what has come to be my favourite beer, Modelo. Its at this moment where i was relaxing with my feet up where i believe i snapped some of the best shots of this entire trip. check it out.
That afternoon i met up with Fabs for a Mexican lunch special and to check out the other 'no name bar' a short drive away, and from there we headed back to my favourite hangout for what i believed to be my "final" night on the island. A great night tonight where many peolpe were left feeling "happy" for me.
So it 'D' day, the next morning i met up with Dona, a new friend i made toward the end of my stay for some breakfast, said goodbye to the crew and gathered my bags to catch my 2:30 flight to Canada
As i arrived at the aiprort at 12:45 for what i thought would be an early check in, i pulled out my ticket only to see the flight was actually at 12:22........turns out i missed my the only flight for that day.
Normally i would be pissed, but i guess one more day on Cozumel wasnt exactly a curse, I love this place and actually dread leaving it. Some say it was my subconcious making me miss the flight. Who knows.
So i return to the bar to hang out for the for the day (and some more Jenga), this time getting more than enough time to say goodbye to one of my most favourite places on earth.
My extra day saty in Cozumel was a blessing in disguise because it actually allowed me watch the first game of the world cup....Mexico Vs South Africa, which was great to watch in Mexico.
This time it was really time to go, and after sorting out a few Mexican mishaps at the airport, i was on my way to trade the warm beaches of Mexico for the cool mountains of the Canadian Rockies.
Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that the people of Cozumel are among the friendliest in the world. A Caribbean destination for anyone visiting this region.
I would just like to point out that I have recently decided to edit a minor portion of this entry just over one year after it was created. Ive become aware of a few inappropriate generalizations I had made at the time for no apparent reason. For whatever reason, it was not cool and I am more than happy to now have the opportunity to erase my comments. I only wish I had done it sooner. (See all comments in Italics)
My sincere apologies to anyone who I have offended with my words.
Thank YOU, Angela :-)