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January 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Cozumel and the Cenotes, Yucatan, Mexico

commuting to the caverns

from the January, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

Hot sun and margaritas were at the top my list when I decided to plan a diving trip to Mexico's Caribbean coast. However, my editor, Ben, wasn't interested in a Cozumel story, saying that he has covered it often. I explained that I would spend several days commuting to the mainland to dive the cenotes [seh-noh'- tees]. After all, the Yucatan is perforated with clear, freshwater-flooded underground caverns and prehistoric cave systems, just the opposite of Cozumel's ocean drift diving. He perked up. "OK, let's show the more adventurous how they might expand Cozumel's diving horizons."

Diving the Kulkulcan cenoteTwo other friends persuaded, date agreed, and flights booked, off we went. When the August heat hit me as I disembarked my flight, I needed the first taste of Mexico, a celebratory PiŮa Colada. A bus and ferry ride took us to Cozumel. Deep Blue had booked us into the Barracuda Hotel just south of the Punta Langosta pier and a short walk to town.

The first day, we took our gear by $2 taxi-ride to the 8.30 am ferry, Barcos Caribe. The basic round trip was 200 pesos (about $10). My middle-eastern background stood me in good stead, and I eventually bargained the fare down to 110 pesos! The Caribe has two decks, can carry about 300 people and the passengers were mostly Mexican's making the 45-minute commute to work. A shop serves weak coffee with powdered milk and a choice of potato chips. There was a first-class section, but we weren't in it.

Upon arrival at Playa del Carmen, Hector, our tall, impressive cenote guide from The Scuba Tribe (which works with Deep Blue) met us and drove us for 20-minutes in his four-wheel-drive twin-cab truck to our first cenote called 'Kulkulcan' at Chac Mol. A serious fellow, Hector spoke perfect English, and he knew his stuff! When it came to briefings, he was authoritative. Safety first. He would take no chances.

Cenotes MapWhile examining our dive qualifications, he was visibly surprised at how many dives we had made: one of us had 2000 plus dives, the other more than 1000 and I, a measly 700 dives including some cavern and cave experience. Satisfied, he proceeded to explain the procedures as if we were novices. In fairness, although we are all experienced wreck divers and have dived in dark and tight places, he was right to be strict and sober. Cenotes are different and not to be taken lightly. He called these first dives 'cavern dives' as opposed to cave diving, explaining that we would be able to see the blue of daylight almost all the way through the dive....

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