Mexico 2010 ~ Part 2 of 3 ~ GUE Conference

30 12 2010

Friday, December 3rd, 2010 ~

Today was Day 1 of the GUE Conference. Steve was up early, as he had an Instructor Meeting to attend, and wanted to try to fit a dive in beforehand. Jen and I were also going to squeeze one in, before heading to the Opening.

When Jen and I arrived at the shop, I noticed a mysterious e-mail from a fellow whose name rhymes with “Tug,” telling us that there would be a lost soul, looking for a dive buddy this morning, and that he would meet us at the shop. Dan B. was the soul, and we were more than happy to have him along. Apparently, he had been waiting a while too… Sorry, Dan!

We made our way to Chicken Ha/Xtabay, as Jen and I were going to retrieve the CINDAQ sensors, that we sponsor. One, for DIR Ontario, and Jen sponsors the other. The “DIR Ontario” sensor was in the fresh water, and Jen’s was in the salt water. We were just hoping that we could find them! Fred gave us a little map, that we hoped would lead the way for us, as to where to go off the line to find them.

Chris and Piotr were also out for a morning jaunt, as were Jacob, Blake, and Steve C., with their “turbos.”

Blake, heading out…

On our way into the cave, Jen ran the line, alongside of Chris’, and we tied into the main line, a little further than we meant to. This just meant we would have to back track a little, in order to follow the trusty little map that we had. So.. we made our way back, found the marker, and I headed to the location first. Voila! There it is! I replaced the sensor with a special cookie, that Jen had made up, and moved out of the way for Jen, who retrieved hers, and replaced hers with her special cookie. Dan was ever so patient, waiting for us. We decided to bring the reel in a bit, and reattach it to the beginning of the main line, leaving it in for our next dive.

As we neared the basin, Jacob came up alongside of me, with a friendly “high five!” Back atcha, buddy!

Jen, Dan, and I surfaced, recalculated our gas, then went back in for some surveying. I had the clipboard, with a map of the system, and we were going to verify directions, compass headings, try to give the map some scale, and note any large landmarks. I really enjoyed doing this, and I gained a new respect for people that do this, as there really is so much information to note, and it takes quite a bit of time. I really hope that I get more chances to do this. Jen and Dan were awesome buddies, and were very helpful!

We went through the Wizard’s Den, which is one of my favourite rooms. I never get tired of going through here. So many stalactites and stalagmites, and what appear to be large chunks of ceiling, fallen to the floor. It turns out that they are actually chunks of floor that have caved in, from a higher level. I think I could spend a lot of time in this room alone. We went through the next section of bedding plane, and I turned the dive on gas. What an excellent couple of dives!

Jen and I, with the CINDAQ sensors…

We chatted with Piotr and Chris, then raced back to the shop, dropped our tanks, then Conference bound!

Dive 1
Bottom Time ~ 38 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 44′ (Avg. 34′)
Water Temp. ~ 77

Dive 2
Bottom Time ~ 43 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 46′ (Avg. 32′)

Of course, there was time for a triple self portrait…

We arrived at the Conference hotel, and lucked out on a great parking spot, then ran in. Just in time! *Phew!*

We arrived as Jarrod was taking the mic, and was about to address the family.

Todays talks were:

Cenotes in Maya Ideology & Potential for Underwater Discoveries ~ Dominique Rissolo
Hoyo Negro Discovery and Protection ~ Beto Nava
Endangered Sea Turtles ~ Holly Wilson
Partial Pressures & Solubility Coefficients ~ Heather  Hamza
MCEP: Ox Bel Ha Exploration Updates ~ Fred Devos

After the Speaking Goodness had finished for the day, Jen and I zipped back to our condo to get changed, then back for a couple of cocktails and dinner, at La Salva. Steve, Hassan, and Jesper decided to go out for a dive, seeing as they didn’t get their conspiracy dive in, before the meeting.

Once we finally got a table, the meal was delicious. Fred had brought his laptop with him, so that we could download our CINDAQ sensors, and see the information.

Saturday, December 4th, 2010 ~

Today’s line up:

Researching Shipwrecks: Locating & Surveying, Using Sidescan Mosaics & ROVs ~ Richard Lundgren
Lampedusa ~ Mario Arena *brilliant!*
Guadalcanal ~ Liam Allen
Remote Sensing & GIS ~ Sam Meacham
Cave Sediments ~ Ed Reinhardt
Triathlon, the Second Sport for Divers? ~ Errol Kalayci
Biodiversity in Yucatan Caves: What do you see when you dive? ~ Olmo Torres-Talamante
Why Side Mount? ~ Steve Bogaerts
Closing ~ Jarrod Jablonski

Another day of awesome talks. They were all very interesting, but Mario’s did stand out, as he outdid himself with his presentation. There was alot of great information, and definitely some great humour.

There were a lot of laughs, and it was really great to see people that we hadn’t seen in a while. Jarrod and David threw some prizes out into the crowd, and I even got a couple. W00t!

We closed off the evening with a rather large gathering at The Pub. I think they were getting to know us there… lol. We had an absolute blast with everyone, and it was a great way to finish off a fun week! Tomorrow’s festivities were to take place at Chicken Ha/Xtabay.

On our walk back to the condo, Steve and I met up with a medium-sized white dog. He was very cute, and had black ears, and a little black spot on his nose. He trotted along in front of us, seeming to lead our way. He led us directly up the few stairs to our condo gate, and waited for us to open it. How on earth did he know we were going this way?? We couldn’t get past him, so we decided to keep walking for a bit. So.. down the steps he came, and went along ahead of us again. When he was quite a distance ahead, we looked at each other and bolted back for the gate. Yeah.. that didn’t work.. He came bolting back, and waited for us at the gate again. We were laughing pretty hard at this point. Oh well.. I guess he’s getting through the gate. Then, for the Alfred Hitchcock moment… He ran up the stairs to our building, and waited for us at our front door. That was slightly freaky. Jen came up later, and he was still waiting outside the door.

Our little friend, hoping we would open the screen door for him…

Sunday, December 5th, 2010 ~

Today was reserved for a couple of workshops, as well as a BBQ and Diving Goodness at Xtabay. Our first order of the day was to pack up from our fancy condo, and move our stuff over to Jacob’s place. So, once that was done, and our cases ditched at Jacob and Gid’s house, we headed to the shop for some breakfast snacks and more chatting.

Jarrod, wearing Jesper’s fancy “Jackie O” glasses…

We grabbed a couple of sets of doubles, and headed to Xtabay. There were only a few people there by this time, and Steve and I jumped in for a couple of dives. Our first task was to return the DIR Ontario and Jen’s CINDAQ sensors. When we got to the location, it appeared that Jen’s fancy cookie had fallen, so I hope I put it back in the right place!

Our second dive, we just relaxed and had some fun. We played around in the halocline, and when in the Wizard’s Room, we stuck around to look at everything. I know I’ve said it before, but I really like this room. 🙂

We left our reel in, as we were going to do another dive after lunch. LUNCH!

What a great spread! There was a family from the US that had catered everything. Some amazing chicken, tomales, sausage, salad, drinks, and some incredibly yummy home made chocolate brownies.

After chatting and having some laughs with some of our GUE friends, we realized it was getting a bit late, and the cenote was going to close at a certain time, so we had to get our butts in the water!

We jumped back into our gear and headed back into the cave. We went past the “T,”  to the other cenote, then turned it. We took our time coming out, as we were still way below our  turn pressures. We did some more playing in the halocline, and my mask was even leaking a bit, from my giant permagrin.

Dive 1 ~ Putting sensors back in
Bottom Time ~ 53 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 44′ (32′ Avg.)
Water Temp. ~ 77

Dive 2
Bottom Time ~ 33 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 42′ (Avg. 26′)

Dive 3
Bottom Time ~ 61 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 44′ (Avg. 26′)

Fred’s Scooter…

After our dives, we went back to Jacob’s to shower for dinner… Well, we tried…

We made our way to the front gates, where Julia, Kirill, and Philip were waiting for us. We jumped in and headed to Mayakoba. Elena was having a wonderful dinner for a bunch of us. Steve and I waited in the lobby, as everyone got ready.. what a beautiful place.

Christmas Tree, from the lounge…

Once everyone was accounted for, we headed downstairs, to the restaurant. We sat out on the balcony, where the air was perfect. There were oysters a-plenty, making the rounds on the table. Since I can’t eat things that swim, I let Steve have my share. I know how much he enjoyed them. 🙂

We had a couple of drinks, then the main courses came out. All I can say is, “Wow…” Everything was cooked to perfection, and was absolutely delicious. It was a lot of fun chatting with everyone, and to be a part of this evening. Steve and I really enjoyed it . Elena is so vibrant and fun to be around. Thank you, Elena! 🙂

Once we got back to Jacob and Gid’s place, we crept in, so we wouldn’t wake anyone.. Ohh… There is someone on the couch.. shhhh…

Monday, December 6th, 2010 ~

Despite getting home pretty late, the night before, I was up early… 6am. Steve was still sawing logs, but there was quite a group of us, having a pajama party. Roberto was there, Jacob, Sam knocked on the door, then Dominique.. then Gideon… All we were missing were Mimosas and pastries… lol. Once everyone had decided what they were doing for the day, I went back for a nap.

Once Steve and I got up (for real, this time), we headed out to find this crepe place that Gina had told us about. We located it and found our crepes of choice.

Steve’s Banana Nutella Crepe…

Mine was a Sunrise crepe, and the smoothies were incredible!

Once we were done, we were still dragging our behinds a bit, so we just relaxed for a while, then headed over to the shop. We were moving condos again today, so we figured we would just do that.

In the evening, we walked over to Subway (yes, there is a Subway, just outside of PA!) to grab a couple of subs, before heading over to ZG. Renato (Karst Odyssy) was giving a presentation on the Bosnia caves.

It was very interesting to hear their adventures and exploration through these systems. Even with the fluctuations of water levels that they had to deal with.

After the presentation, there was word of a Cave 2 course starting the next morning. J was going to sit in on it, as two people had to drop out, leaving just one student. Steve and I looked at each other… “Hmmm….” Yeah.. right… The course would run through Saturday, which was the day we were supposed to leave. Could we change our flight this late in the game? Bahh.. doubt it…

So.. we headed back to the condo, where we were fortunate enough to have a loan of Marina’s phone. Between Chris, Marina, myself, Steve, and Tom, we were finally able to find the right number to call (thanks, Tom). I got a really nice West Jet person on the phone, who was able to switch our flights for us, and even got us a direct flight back, with minimal fees. How cool is that??? So.. uh… I guess Cave 2 was starting in the morning… Thanks, Allison (at West Jet).

I guess our vacation was mostly over… 😉

Next… Part 3 ~ Cave 2!

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