Monday, November 21, 2011

So it has been almost a year since....

I updated the blog. We are back in Mexico for two weeks. I like being down here at Thanksgiving...not sure where we are eating yet on the actuall holiday, but I look forward to it just the same. Worse case, I will have chicken and re-brand it turkey for the meal!

Was here in April but didn't blog at all. Diving, slow internet and sitting on the beach interfered with blogging schedule.

So what the heck have we been doing for 3 days? Well, we had an awesome welcome to Mexico meal at Casa Cenote, an over two hour shakedown dive in Chan Hol day 1, dinner at the Pub in Puerto, a lazy Sunday with BBQ, margaritas, and friends at Casa Cenote again, and I was able to encroach on some friends (thanks Peter, Lynne and Ben) and join them for diving in Maya Blue today.

Our plan is to finally get into Camillo tomorrow to do a shakedown dive on the rebreathers. That was the plan today, but John took a nasty fall with a stage before the Chan Hol dive and he landed his bony arse on a very sharp rock...not to mention his head on the tank, so he wasn't up for a 5 hour dive today. So he relaxed, fixed stuff around the room...very important things like the toilet, water pressure, and a leaky water container. One thing about Mexico is there is always something and if you get all bent out of shape about it ...well, you all know what happens...nothing good, so just go with the flow....or lack of if we are talking about our toilet...hahaa.

Anyway, I went away and had a nice dive today at Mayan Blue (a cave system south of Tulum). It may very well have been the busiest cave diving parking lot I have seen in a long time. Cool thing was, once you got past the line to get into the cenote, we actually didn't see any divers on the dive except our team. That may have been because the guy running the line took us through a little known crack to get to the main line in B tunnel. All I can say is that was way cool, and we had a really nice beautiful dive. Back at the cenote, there again was a line of divers to exit but we were at the front and beat feet through the light rain to de-kit ourselves of gear.

Ton of sidemount divers, that practice is really taking off. Ya kinda feel old school in doubles, but I can live with that.

Well, I have to get to work on gear if we are going to go tomorrow....pull my weight and all that :)

Happy Monday least it is down in Quintana Roo (for my non-diving friends, that is the state of Mexico where Cancun, Tulum, Akumal and Puerto are located).


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Diving...sort of

We haven't dove in about a week...ailmets or equipment is to blame. But today we headed out to the Ranch to dive Cenote Muchachos in System Camillo. Yesterday we had physical issues so although we didn't dive, we ventured out to the Ranch to make sure they were open and do a bit of recon. Lucky for us there were some workers there and I spoke to them about diving tomorrow...which was today. No Problemo!

So we arrived at 9:15 am and had no problem getting in. Geared up with rebreathers, and scooters and began our very short dive. Guess issue again. O-ring problem which was letting water into my rebreather, so we called the dive soon after we sorted everything out and were ready to hit the trigger. I asked John to check my rebreather...leak. Done. Headed out.

Out we went. Spoke to workers, we will be going in tomorrow early. Rebreather is fixed, gear is all set up and staying loaded in car for early departure.

Wish us luck as we only have less than a week and it seems we have hardly dove. No complaints here though, and there is a return trip scheduled for Jan when John starts his FM3 resident visa saga again.

Global Underwater Explorer Conference

The Global Underwater Explorers conference was last weekend in Mexico. We abandoned our room for the weekend to check into the Hotel Catalonia Tulum, where the conference was being held. We had never stayed in an "all-inclusive" before and I have to say, it wasn't that bad. Others had commented that the Catalonia is a smaller property than some of the others in the area and that may make a difference. Anyway, it was a nice change of scenery for a few days....

The conference had some informative and interesting presentations. A few of my favorites were: Cenotes in Maya Ideology by Dominique Rissolo; Researching Shipwrecks/Locating and Surveying using Sidescan and ROV's by Richard Lundgren: Guadalcanal by Liam Allen; Remote Sensing and GIS by Sam Meacham and Why Sidemount by Steve Bogaertes. There were others that were equally interesting but these were my favorites.

There was alot of social time during the weekend and that was fun too. As a side note, I won one of the silent auctions so I now have a really nice Silentplanet heated vest....yeahh for me! Can't wait to try it at the lake over the holidays with my dry gloves that I haven't had a chance to try yet either,

The conference ended on Sunday at Chikin Ha with a BBQ, and some workshops. I had never been to Chikin Ha cenote and I will have to go back to dive. Since I had signed up for some workshops, John and I decided not to dive. Also, the fact that we closed the Pub in Puerto the night before may have had something to do with that. In signing up for the line workshop, you might scratch your head...since I already run line. But I wanted a refresher, which turned out geat since I was the only one signed up and John and I got to spend about 30 minutes with Christophe Le Malliot asking him whatever we wanted. Chris is a GUE instructor and a avid cave exlporer. It was well worth it. The other workshop was an intro to survey conducted by Fred Devos, another GUE instructor and cave exlporer. He always does a great job and we learn something new from him everytime we talk. I just need to talk John into taking the 5 day class...or just take it on my own.

The workshop ended as we were about to lose daylight...and for the last 15 minutes of the class we were dodging bats and I am not kidding. They were flying around right through us. Fred finally agreed that the mosquitos would start coming out and we may get swarmed before we could get back to our the day ended. lots of folks were still diving, but we said our goodbye's and beat feet.
We headed back to Tulum and had a nice hamburgesa de res right in front of our room, which was nice because John and I were both really tired and just wanted to get some sleep.

Until are some more pictures of Chickin Ha. There are more than 1 cenote in the Chickin Ha area, however, I don't remember which one is which....but they are all nice. And an altar at the back of one of the cenote areas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BBQ, diving, and spiders...oh my

Not diving today so I thought I would update the blog. Last I posted we were headed to, a BBQ at Bil Philips house. The BBQ was lots of fun and the food was even better. Grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, and potatoes...mmmmmm. Bil is such a character and I really enjoy talking to him....picture someone who would use the term "cats" in reference to people and you get the idea of colorful scenic language. He told us about the Playa Del Carmen Jazz Festival he attended....I think next year I would like to come down early enough to attend! It sounded fantastic. We met alot of people and got re-aquainted with some we already knew.

As what usually happens when I attend dinner events involving drinks and divers, I found myself a new dive buddy for the following day. A girl from Poland had just completed her cave class and was looking for a buddy...John had to work on gear the next day so I was free to dive.....and John had to be our chauffer because she didn't have a car and I can't drive the truck. I took her to the Room of Tears as I thought she would enjoy the restrictions and it is a nice cave. We entered in Zacil-Ha (luke's hope) and had a really nice dive.

Two things worth mentioning...on our way to the dive site we had to stop at 7-11 for some water and ran Alex A from Tulum. As Marta, the gal from Poland, was exiting the truck...Alex asked, "Is that your daughter?" OMG! That is all I have to say about that.

And the other thing, on our dive we were heading out...Marta was in front and she came to the line going through a restriction. She looked at me and motioned "not sure how to get through there" so we switched positions and I told her to follow me. We had a laugh about it afterward. She told me I had no bones and I told her she was a good cave diver for day 1 post cave cert. She said she likes the small stuff now and I was glad she had a good dive and got to see some nice cave outside of class. I like the small cave too.

No diving today because I forgot that after a rebreather dive, I need a day off...too much congestion, but instead I went diving. So I had to take today off. Tomorrow we hope to go to Camillo on the rebreathers and retrieve our safety bottles. The gear is ready to go.

And here is a scorpion spider that was in our room....I took a picture. It was the 3rd one....two of them died.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shake out Rebreather Dive

We decided not to go to Gran Cenote to sort out the new rebreather config with small tanks and went instead to Carwash Cenote. Wise choice as we had it to ourselves and tons of people were at Gran.

Here is a picture of the Cenote. Word in the jungle is that there is a 3ft (1 meter) croc living in the cenote. Some Cave 2 students saw it the other day on during their swim test...yikes. I was looking but did not find it...thankfully.

We put on our rebreathers and ran line to the main line...for our cave diving friends...the line is moved. It is about 100ft closer than it was before and is not hidden behind the outcropping rock. Rebreathers are a tool....I keep telling myself that. The good news is I didn't hate them today and was able to exhale easier to prevent chipmunk cheeks when going up a hill in the cave. It still takes a bunch of work because you have to make buoyancy adjustements all the time...and I mean all the time. You can't use your breathe and lungs to control must use your wing (inflation device) and your drysuit.

Anyway, it was a nice 2 hour dive...we main lined it until it got to small and them jumped off to the Room of Tears again until it was time to turn and go home.

Here is some photos of us in our rebreather get up...we tried small tanks this time. John worked really hard to configure these bad boys and his efforts paid off. We are still hoping we will not need them for Camillo and can fit through the hole in that cave using the big tanks. Time will tell.

We are off to a BBQ in Tulum. We got invited but said we didn't want to crash the party, but Bil Philips insisted. Should be fun. The Czecks (who are exploring a ton of cave down here) will be there. Bil said, "come for burnt chicken" and we can't pass that up. Especially from Bil.

Shake Out Dive

Saturday we set out to do out first dive of the trip. That includes finding all the gear in the room, and checking it out to make sure there are no spiders in the regulators! As usual, we ran into some obstacles. The first was that the tanks we have are in Fernando's shop and he is in Mexico problem we got those out...but they were not full. The guy who fills doesn't show up until 4pm so that option was out...luckily Zero Gravity has this really cool fill station that is now up an running, so the plan was to beat feet down there. We will also check with Xibalba to see if they fill on demand.

Our third hurdle was remembering where we keep the key that opens up the case with our primary lights in it...hard to dive without those. We go through this every time and last time we specifically came up with a solution which we would always remember....hahaaaa. We remembered but it took awhile. Finally gear was loaded and off we went to get fills and afternoon diving....lunch at Cas Cenote first, sans maragitas because we were diving..only Coca lights.

Our first dive was in Zacil (the back part of Carwash). They had a birthday fiesta going on but they caretaker said we could we provided a bit of the entertainment apparently. We choose to go to the Room of Tears and maybe to Dreamland which is really cool and tannic. As a first dive it is great because you have to work all the time and fine tune your buoyancy it is a really nice cave. We ended up not going to Dreamland, but took the T to the left, then another T to the right, then another T to the left until we hit the end of the line.

Mission accomplished, we are back in the caves!

On to rebreather shakedown dive tomorrow at Gran Cenote.

On a side note, each day we drive by Camillo and the gates are open....could be a good sign as Fernando said he could not get ahold of the owner.

Another side note; there are new owners to the hamburger stand in front of Fernando's. We chose to eat there last night. Burgers are really good grilled over charcoal and they grill vegetables and potatoes too. Quite a feast for very few pesos....and really tasty. The girl is from Spain and the guy is from Mexico, it is fun talking to people from other countries. Apparently Spain is in a bit of an ecomonic crisis as well.

Happy Sunday, we are going diving!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Made it to Tulum

We arrived in Tulum late afternoon on Thanksgiving Day! Unloaded our cargo and headed over to Puerto Aventuras for a Turkey dinner and to meet up with some people we know. The 6:30 seating was full so we had to wait until 8pm....not so bad as it allowed time for a margarita or 2 at the Pub.

Fun time. Ran into some folks we knew (lamont and Jen) and had a nice Thanksgiving meal. I also learned (I kinda already knew), that the class I had signed up for was definately not going to go because there isn't enough students. Ran into the instructor at Cafe Ole and met him in person. Cool guy. Hopefully, I can arrange some one on one training while I am here...or more than one training.

We spent John's birthday sorting out the room nad had a nice lunch at the Mezzanine. Tomorrow we dive!