Back Into The Cavezzzz!

18 12 2014

Sunday, December 7th, 2014 ~

After only 2 1/2 hours of sleep, Steve and I pulled ourselves out of bed at 2:30am, and made our way to the airport. We boarded, and our seats were at the back of the bus. There was a lady beside us, sitting in the aisle seat, that moved across the aisle, to sit with her husband. Score! We had the 2nd last row to ourselves! There are good things and bad things about this… Advantage: Space, space, space. Disadvantage: Every single person that comes to use the washroom, will bump you. Every single one of them. They also hover over you, while they wait for their turn to go. There was also some hilarity, as these people were standing in the aisle, pulling my seat, hovering over me, I did get to witness many different varieties of the “Pee-Pee Dance.” That was entertaining.

There was quite a lot of turbulence, at the beginning of the flight, but we made it, safely. 🙂 Once we arrived, it appeared that the car rental company  had forgotten to pick us up. We found a very nice fellow, from another car company, who called them for us. After about an hour, we were in action. We actually got the car that we had reserved, too! w00t w00t!

To the shop! We went directly there, and got our gear together. This was the first time that we had been to the new shop, since they moved, in September. It is absolutely beautiful! Well done, friends!

We had to check on our scooter batteries, which we knew needed replacing. Their fate was not as wonderful as the weather…

 

 

We had one other, that was also toast. 2.01… Yep.

 

 

Steve put one of the packs together, and we were able to borrow another battery pack, to get us going, until our 3rd battery arrived.

As we assembled all of our gear, we started to see some of our friends, from across the ocean, as well as friends from back home!

Yvonne and I!

A.J., Mike, Jen.

Chris P.

Our first night, we stayed in one of the new condos, at ZG. We went up to the roof, to see the impending doom, that was almost upon us!

Monday, December 8th, 2014 ~

Up at 5:30am – Why? Why? I managed to grab a few more ZZZs, before getting up at 6:30am. Mike, Jen, Steve, and I went to one of the little cafes, in PA, and grabbed some yummy breakfast. Not exactly the most cost-effective place to eat, but it was delicious.

We had a nice view…

Back at the shop, we loaded our gear, and a big group of us (9 of us!) headed over to Caracol.

This was the first time that Steve and I had been here (same with most of the others, if not all of us), and the stairs were very steep, going down through the opening.

So steep, that when you walk down with your tanks on, you have to be careful not to bottom out!

It was extremely dark down there (duhhh… it’s a cave), and took a couple of minutes for our eyes to adjust.

Then, the owner put the lights on, for us!

Just. Stunning.

We broke up into four different teams, and off we went. Steve was using Jen’s camera. We stayed on the main line, and apparently, there is 25,000′ of cave, in this system. Steve and I swam an hour in, using a stage, and just a touch of back gas. This cave is pretty awesome – it has halocline, as well as an area with a lot of tree roots, in tannic, shallow water. A great dive!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 47 mins.

Max. Depth: 23′

Avg. Depth: 15′

Water Temp.: 77F

Vis.: Do I really need to say? Gin clear! 😛

We dropped our doubles, before climbing back up the stairs, had lunch, then headed back down for a second dive. Johannes joined Steve and I, for this dive. We didn’t really need to bring a stage, so we left our second stage bottles behind, just using back gas.

We took a jump to the left, off of the main line. There were some really nice passages, with many changes, throughout. From white cave, to decorations covered in “chocolate sauce.” Very cool!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 15 mins.

Max. Depth: 24′

Avg. Depth: 18′

Water Temp.: 77F

Steve, with one of the locals…

Back at the shop, we met up with Fred, Chris, Arno, Sander, Forest, and Stretch! We got our condo info, for the rest of our stay, then to dinner, then…zzzzz………..

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 ~

Bowl of cereal, shop, load, then to Minotauro, along with Sander, Jan, and Arno. We each brought a stage, which we realized wasn’t really necessary. There was a tiny bit of flow, as we swam in, and lo and behold, we happened to see Vlada, in the cave! We waved hello, as they were heading toward the exit. We noticed Sander, Jan, and Arno’s stages, just before we dropped ours (of course, we had to raz them about that). We jumped to the left, swam through the “river” section, with the gorgeous halocline, and another jump to the left, where we ended up in another small cenote. We didn’t stick around long in the cenote, since we were a bit paranoid of snakes landing on us (that almost happened to Steve, once…). We turned around, but still hadn’t reached our turn pressure, so we made another jump. We dropped down, through a bit of a restriction and halocline. I couldn’t see a thing, so I “ok’d” the line, behind Steve. The line went straight up, through some even more silty swiss cheese passage, and it eventually got a bit too tight, so we headed back. We ended up right behind the “Dutchies,” on our swim out. We were able to say hello to Vlada and pals, as we were coming out, and they were going back in!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 45 mins.

Max. Depth: 46′

Avg. Depth: 27′

Water Temp.: 77F

Jan, Arno, Sander…

Back at the shop, Steve set up his RB80, we worked on our two scooters, then went to get some groceries. Also, shout-out to the Chinese Food restaurant, beside the Chedraui. It’s really good!!!

Back to the shop, where we attended the MCEP meeting. Chris gave us an intro; Fred gave us location info; Ed spoke about sediment; Kovacs gave us the low-down on calcite, and Ivan gave a presentation on some of the Baltic Sea wrecks, that they have been diving. Some incredible wrecks!!

Thank you, Forest, Becki, and Dan. I was presented with this… I think I had tears, I was laughing so hard!!!

Back at the condo, it was scooter balancing time, in the pool. We borrowed a battery pack, until our new batteries arrived. 😛

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 ~

Project Day!

We all assembled at the shop, and had our assignments given to us!

Stretch and Forest, armed with spanners!

Peter and Manu!

Jen was nice enough to let me jump into her car, to Yax Chen, since Steve was taking ours, and was filled to the brim, with RB80s and scooters.

There was definitely no room in here, for me!

More of the gang…

Jen and I had two stages each, and a scooter each. Jen was using an XK-1, while I had the T16 (Steve was using both of our Gavins). Our goal was to take sediment samples, from the top layer of sediment, and not to disturb the lower layers. This is a bit of a challenge, in an extremely silty environment!

We reached Tarpon II, dropped stages and scooters, then swam, using our second stage bottles. It was pretty dark, where we dropped the stages, and there was a bit of flow. We saw the huge school of tarpon that live there, and they seemed to follow us, each way. Pretty amazing sight!

At our first station (we started at our furthest station), Jen held the line, as I dropped into the H2S layer, to take a sample. I swear, that H2S layer had me  narc’d out of my tree, and scooping the sediment proved quite a task. When I reached for my wet notes pencil, it turned out to be my eraser, and I genuinely could not find my pencil. It took me a few tries, but I eventually found it, as I turned my notes around… about 5 times. It was pretty humourous – just ask Jen… 😛

We swam back to our gear, picked it up, and went to back gas. Our next station was pretty close, and I took Jen’s scooter, while she went to take the sample. The XK-1 was “a bit” negative, so we didn’t want it to disturb any of our samples.

This is where more hilarity ensued… I tucked Jen’s scooter over my leg, and it still wanted to take a silty nose-dive – not effective. After trying a few different methods, I ended up holding both scooters in my right hand, to keep them stable, and out of the way. Jen took the remaining samples, so that we didn’t have to juggle the scooters back and forth. We picked up the last sample, then scootered home, on our stage. There were so many crabs in the open water, right near our exit, so we had to check them out for a bit (of course). One of the little crabs was about to pick a fight with two curious fish.

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

Max. Depth: 47′

Avg. Depth: 21′

Water Temp.: 77F

We waited for the rest of the gang to surface, helped to remove gear, and headed back.

Jan, Steve, Arno, Sander…

Forest and Stretch…

*Note* Need to try that stone oven-bake pizza place, near Yax Chen. They claim to have the best pizza on Earth!

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 ~

Today, Jen and I were going to Xtabay. Of the people that were here, we were the only two that knew where the sensors were, here. We were picking up Jen’s sensor, near the start of the main line (the GUE Ontario one, which is very close to Jen’s, no longer works), and the other one, on the way to the Repair Shop.

We swam through the Wizard’s Den (I love this room), then the “Bone Room (that’s what I call it, since it looks like a huge room of bones),” then a jump to where the sensor was hiding. It was definitely hiding, but I managed to find it! We then swam back to Jen’s sensor, in the salt water, picked it up, and out we went! We left the reel in, for the next dive. We used a stage, but didn’t even need to touch our back gas.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 4 minutes

Max. Depth: 43′

Avg. Depth: 31′

Water Temp.: 75F

After lunch, downloads, and a few punny jokes, we went back in to replace the sensors, then continued on with our dive. We headed towards the Repair Shop, and came to another room, after passing another cenote. We didn’t dare surface, after hearing about some of our friends’ experiences, the day before. All I know, is that there were bees involved, and there were jumps and leaps, back into the water! The Repair Shop was really cool. There were fossilized urchins, mini conch shells, and other neat things, that you don’t normally see. We turned the dive a little early, since the line decided to make a sharp turn upwards, and we had both had slight ear issues, the day before. There was a lot more diving to do, yet! We played in the halocline, on the way back in!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Max. Depth: 44′

Avg.: Depth: 27′

Water Temp.: Still 75F

Back to shop, unload, condo, then Latitude 20, with a bunch of the gang!

Friday, December 12th, 2014 ~

David Dusek and I were heading near Little Chen, to do a sensor retrieval. It was one that was pretty tough to find, and apparently, there had been a couple of attempts to find it recently, without success. Ok… Time for David and I to get to work! We both really wanted to find it! Yvonne and Mike also went, with Constança as our Surface Manager. The other teams were in different locations today, so we were a small group, at Yax Chen!

David’s truck, packed right up!

David and I had 2 stages each, a scooter each, and I was carrying the back-up scooter. We were pretty efficient, and were tied into the jump line, stages dropped, at 43 minutes. We dropped most of our gear at the start of the jump line, so that we wouldn’t be carrying so many things, through the tighter passage. We made a sharp turn, and the cave gets a bit deeper, here. The cave really lightens up, and you go through a halocline. We looked everywhere, for that darn sensor, but couldn’t find it. It’s nowhere… really… There is so much cave to look through, and trying to find a little bitty sensor, was seeming impossible! We reached a T, and knew that we had gone too far – it was definitely not past the T. We turned back around, and swam slowly, slowly, slowly… and… WHAAAA??? THERE IT WAS! David and I saw it at exactly the same time! Boooooooyahhhhh! We would not be foiled! There may have been some kind of celebratory dance, in the water, between the two of us. Just maybe. We stayed on our second stage bottles, since we hadn’t reached our drop pressure. We picked up the rest of our gear, and away we went. I always get really nervous, as we scooter through the “L-Shaped” cenote. There are crocs there, and they might eat me (yes, I actually think this, as I scooter through this area… every time). As we went through Tarpon II, there was a really large tarpon that came right up to me. I was absolutely giggly! Funny, I don’t think he’s going to have me for lunch. It was a really amazing dive, and both David and I were thrilled that we found the sensor. It was really neat to see the cave change, into such white cave, as opposed to the giant darkness, that envelopes the cave, in front of that section. It was like night and day!

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 17 minutes

Max. Depth: 51′

Avg. Depth: 28′

Water Temp.: 77F/78F

Vis.: Varied from 10′ to 100′, depending on where we were, in the cave

After our dive, we waited for the second team (we passed them, on the way in), packed our gear, and…. of course, we just HAD to go to the place with the BEST PIZZA ON EARTH!!!

It seems that they have the best drinks on earth, too…

It was a pretty neat place…

The pizza was pretty delicious!

Back to shop, unload, wait for Steve, condo, then we made some grilled cheese sandwiches, and off to Lat. 20, for some chips ‘n’ salsa, and for the MCEP dinner! Another great project, in the books!

Saturday, December 13th, 2014 ~ 12/13/14!

Steve and I went to the shop a little later than usual (about 8:45am), and packed up our little Atos, with two sets of doubles, two stages, two scooters, and the rest of our gear. Yes… that happened!

Rosa shared her homemade tamales and cake, with us! Thank you, Rosa!

We were heading en route to Tux Ka Paxa, where the jungle roads were not very forgiving, at all. The speed bumps are all natural obstacles, and can easily bottom out your vehicle. Our fingers were crossed, since we were so heavily loaded, in such a little car! We made it… *Phew!*

Some of the nicer road, on the way to Tux – part of the 8.3km, into the jungle!

Once we parked, we took our time bringing down our stage bottles and scooters, since there had been a coral snake seen here, the previous week. We were armed with a “fork stick,” just in case. There were also piles of poop, below the trees, that we had hoped were that of monkeys, and not giant kitty cats (yes, they come here at night). Being the first ones here, today, we really took it slow, and hoped that any animals left without us, as lunch.

Down by the water…

As we geared up, Manu, Peter, Sven, Johannes, and Kovacs arrived for a dive, too!

We made our way into the cave, and then hit the triggers. I was leading this dive. We went right at the T, made a couple of jumps, and went to see what are believed to be giant sloth bones.

We dropped all of our gear, before our stage drop pressure, since the cave was very highly decorated. We went for a swim, and the decorations were absolutely beautiful. We came to a gorgeous room, with “soda straw” decorations, tiny and large stalactities. We were in awe. It started to get pretty tight, and we were close to our turn pressure, so we turned around. We passed Kovacs, Sven, and Johannes… and then Peter and Manu, with their giant core sample poles! Of course, we had to wave!

Steve got some really nice footage, with the Go Pro…

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Max. Depth: 42′

Avg. Depth: 28′

Water Temp.: 77F

Steve and I, after our awesome sauce dive!

Shop, unload, condo, refresh, Chedraui (for groceries), and Chinese, again (it’s really good)! I did learn that the “orange” chicken is the one that is not “picante.” *Phew*

Sunday, December 14th, 2014 ~

Steve and Jan were going to Yax Chen, to retrieve the safety bottles and the reel. David D and I went over to Minotauro, for a nice back gas dive… that is, after we had to go back for my finz… Sorry, David… D’oh! Although, on our trip back, I finally got to meet Lynne, who had been avoiding me, for years! *Giggle* 😛

Once we finally got going, we headed toward the Winz cenote. There was a really tight restriction, going through there… probably one of the tightest that I have been through (that doesn’t move). At first, I wasn’t sure if I was getting through (I was behind David), but then, like a puzzle piece, I managed to find the right combination of movement, to get through. All the while, I’m thinking… Ok, I have to fit back through there… There were some very decorated rooms, covered in chocolate sauce (that’s my description), as well as white, swiss cheese passages. There were a few spots with halocline, too. We reached another cenote, and turned the dive, at the T. Getting back through that restriction proved a little tougher than the other way around. I finally made it! *Phew!*

(There was no danger, since there was the Winz cenote, right above, as a worst case scenario)

A really nice dive, to a place in the cave that I had not been to, before! Thanks for the tour, David!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Max. Depth: 48′

Avg. Depth: 26′

Water Temp.: 75F

Shop, unload, and Jen and Mike gave me a lift back to the condo! We met the gang at the Pub, and it was quite a feat… Lynne and I met, and the Earth kept going! 😛

 

Monday, December 16th, 2014 ~

Today was scooter and gear maintenance day. We probably could have squeezed in a dive, but we decided to take our time, and take care of our gear. We took the scooter back ends apart, sprayed them, dried them, and put them back together. Put all of our gear back into our bins, paid the bill (d’oh!), and hung out with friends.

Onno, me, Yvonne…

Anne-Marie, Steve, Lynne…

JP and AM…

Mike and Jen, playing “Finny-Cakes!”

We even got to see some of our Italian friends!

I have never seen a toucan, before. This was pretty cool!

Steve and Kees…

Our new friends, from China, that we met at the Pub!

Daquiris de fraisa, por favor!

Well, another fun-filled trip and project has come to an end. It’s really amazing, to pick up where we left off… both in friendships, and in Cave Diving Goodness! CAVEZZZZZZ!! Until next time!





Cavezzzz, It Shall Be – Part Three – MCEP Project – Yax Chen/Ox Bel Ha

10 12 2013

Monday, December 9th, 2013 ~

Today was the beginning of the Mexico Cave Exploration Project (MCEP), at Yax Chen – Ox Bel Ha. Since the daylight only lasted until about 5pm, we needed to get an early start. Quick breakfast at 7am, and straight to the shop, for a 7:30am gear gathering, then load up!

Winding path to the water, at Yax Chen…

Steve and Sander were a team, using the RB80s and scooters. I was buddied up with Jan M., to do some sediment trap removal/replacement, using a stage and scooters. I had never done sediment traps, and although not hard, was really “cool” to be a part of. We also repaired a part of the line that had been broken, past the “L-Shaped” cenote. Thanks to Jan, for his expert line repairing demo. It’s been a while since I have done it.

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 4 mins.
Max. Depth: 42′
Water Temp.: 77F/78F
Vis.: A little murky, in the first two sections, but cleared up, as we went further into the cave.

I am very thankful that I did not see the crocs that were apparently in the water.  I have an issue with crocs, other than the plastic ones, on my feet.

Heleen and I!

Tim and I hung around to wait for Steve and Sander. They had a 4 1/2 hour run time.

As we packed up, it appeared that we had a flat tire. No doubt, from the jungle road at Fenom, yesterday. Thank goodness for the RB80 (my tanks had gone with the CINDAQ truck). 🙂

We weren’t sure if it was a puncture, or if bouncing through the jungle, just made it flat. We kept calm, and carried on…

We returned to the shop, unloaded, and headed back to the resort. Dinner and cocktails! We were also able to meet a superhero, by the name of “Super Rafael.” He was telling us about the magic show that they were putting on.

Of course, the video had to be dark, so that we didn’t give away Super Rafael’s true identity…

What a blast!

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 ~

Breakfast, then to the shop… er… change the flat tire. Thanks to Forest and Stretch, who helped us to get to the spare tire out… which was flat. We hobbled to the gas station, put some air in the tire, and we were finally on our way. Thank goodness for zip ties, too. 😉 We finally made it to the shop, loaded up, and an extra thank you to Manu and Peter, who organized my gear and scooters! We were finally on our way.

Today, we were back at Yax Chen. Jan M. and I were going a little further than the previous day’s dive, and had a few more stations to remove/replace sediment traps. We had developed a routine in doing them, so we were able to do it in less time. We also wouldn’t have line to repair (we didn’t think we would).

Steve and Sander were on RBs again, too. There were fewer of us at Yax Chen today, since there were other team members performing other tasks, in other systems.

We could really feel the flow at our sediment traps. It wasn’t bad, but more than in the beginning sections of the cave. We could easily hold our positions while working, with a couple of fin kicks. It was definitely not St. Lawrence River or Florida cave flow, but it was noticeable.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 46 mins.
Max. Depth: 38′
Water Temp.: 77F/78F
Vis.: Same as previous day. Clearer, the further back we went.

We loaded up all of the gear, then hung around to help out Steve and Sander to bring their gear back, and finish loading the CINDAQ truck. From there, we went to Tulum, where we got our tire repaired.  We gave the fellow extra, since he was so good, fast, and incredibly affordable!

Thanks to Constança, for being a great Shore Manager!

Steve and Sander, after their dive.

Once at the shop, we unloaded, and while Steve and Sander were cleaning their RBs, I went with Jo, to The Pub! There were about 20 of us, and Steve came by when he was finished at the shop.

Back at the resort, Steve, myself, Manu, Peter, Stretch, and Forest went over to watch the famous Fire Show! I remembered it from last year, and it was awesome!

We looked at Peter’s photos, then to sleep!





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!