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Swish Cave Diaries: Part 5, The finale

General, Active Lifestyleswishreboot@solomongiles.comComment

So we are down to the last two days of diving the Yucatan's greatest hits before I headed to Asia.  Writing about it now sitting by the beach in Koh Tao is a bit difficult as I miss the caves and my cave people there so much. But for you my dear swish reader. . . I will persevere. . . After taking a day break to clear our ears (ouch!) we headed to Grand Cenote just outside of Tulum. This cenote is also part of Sistema Sac Aktun.

The underworld Creative Commons License photo credit: rakugo

We had two great dives despite, or in fact because of,  the fact that neither Tristan nor I had ever been here.  We had so much fun looking at the maps and planning out where we were going to go and then being able to find our way easily under water in a place that we had never been.  It really showed me how much I had learned the past two weeks to have the mental acuity to execute this. The cenote is nice and shallow too, so we had some nice long penetrations to about an hour.

The next day was our last cave dive and the day before I was leaving my Mexico home and my Mexico banda.  It turned out to be one of the sweetest days ever.

The French Cave God and I packed our gear into the swamp thing jeep (not smelling so great at this point) and drove to Cenote Mayan Blue. Mayan Blue derives it's name from a distinctive indigo blue used by the Maya. When HID lights hit the white sections of the cave, it was the bluest blue I had ever seen.  It is quite stunning as well because there are dark sections (freshwater) which then open up into the bright blue sections of saltwater. Dives down into the salt water will normally result in decompression.

 

The day started out amazing immediately. Upon pulling into the cenote, another truck pulled up after us, a very familiar truck.  It was our instructor and one of our closest friends, Patrick who is part owner of ProTec Advanced Training Facility in both Playa del Carmen and Tulum.  He was there teaching an advanced sidemount course. It was nice to see Protec there as it was fitting that they were there for my first and my last cave dives in Mexico.

We did our first dive in the upstream sections of the A tunnel. The effects of the blue was indeed stunning! In our second dive we went in the B tunnel upstream and made a jump down into the saltwater through a room and into a really nice bedding plane. We had a slight deco obligation after which Patrick and his group did too and it was fun chilling out underwater together. ProTec made a little video for us as we were "the most fashionable cave team that they had seen in a long time." haha. Go Swish Suits.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpvo_4Lbr1A[/youtube]

It was a very bittersweet moment leaving after the last dive.  I miss the Cenotes, my friends, and those sweet sweet cavey times so much, but I know I will be back in December to cure this little addiction problem that might have cropped up!

Cave Diving Diaries: Part 4, With Feeling

Active Lifestyleswishreboot@solomongiles.comComment

Day 7: Cenote Cristalino

I had not been to Cenote Cristalino since my cave course. This day was incredible as we were joined by a very special guest: Swish CEO and my sister, Chelsea Berg!

Cenote Cristalino is an alternate enterence to the Ponderosa cave passage. It is not too challenging of a dive and the main passage is often used for training dives. The outside of the cenote is extremely beautiful with mangroves and high rocky walls. You might recognize it from our Cenote jumping video!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Jpoo7BLWTc[/youtube]

I had never been cave diving with Chelsea, in fact I had never been cave diving with someone other than my instructor Patrick and Tristan. It was very nice for me to go diving with someone who was at my same certification level as it relieved a lot of pressure in my crazy head! I am normally so concentrated on the fact that I am not performing perfectly that I sometimes cannot chill out and cave diving becomes two hours of Victoria's mental punishment. Seeing someone else dive who is at my level really quieted my thoughts, and in turn made diving a lot easier for me. Crazy huh?

The day was great. It started with all of us putting our kit together as normal, although it was much more fun. Chelsea kept on giggling as she had forgotten how much gear there is with cave diving and had us all in stitches with her comments.

 

We had a fantastic little dive, which was nice and easy but still really fun as I was cave diving the first time with my sister!

I feel like cave diving together as a team is a huge bonding experience. You could go with someone who you do not like/ or know that well but in the hours that you are underwater  you are functioning as one team gliding together with faith in your capabilities as a team. If possible cave diving with my sister brought us EVEN closer (oh no! for those who already know us.)

 

 

Swish Cave Diving Diaries: Part 3, Stealth Missions

Eco Tips and Environmentswishreboot@solomongiles.comComment

So after dives at Tajma Ha, Minotauro, Xunaan-ha, Dos Palmas, and Dreamgate- the French Cave Diving God and I were starting to really function as a team.  This is helped by the fact that we were both trained by the same person and had the same kit configuration. We were starting to feel as though we were on a stealth mission through the Cenotes gilding along. Cheesy I know, but I still wanted my own theme song. Day 6: Cenote Zazil-Ha

Zazil ha was amazing! Zazil-ha is a closer Cenote than Carwash to get to the upstream section of Aktun-ha, meaning that we did not have to go through the cavern zone at carwash to reach the cave section. This allows a bit further penetration as one does not have to recalculate their thirds after going through the cavern.

We did two cave dives this day with the goal of seeing two famous rooms. During dive one we penetrated to Adriana's room and further beyond into the cell block. Dive number two we set out with the goal of going to the room of tears. This was by far one of my favorite dives of my caving spree.

To get to room of tears you take the upstream section then make a jump down through a slight restriction.  The jump is a bit dark and narrow but it makes coming up into the room that much more special. It is truly a sublime feeling to see such a highly decorated place. After the Room of Tears we entered into a large bedding plane which was fun and a great test of trim, buoyancy and propulsion due to a decorated ceiling and sediment bed below!

All in all another great day banging out the Cenotes caving diving greatest hits!

 

Swish Cave Diaries: Step 2, Turn it up!

General, Active Lifestyleswishreboot@solomongiles.comComment

OK! So I am on day seven of CAVE DIVING UNLIMITED! After a brief warm up in Cenote Tajma Ha, Minotauro, and Xunaan- Ha (xunaan ha for warm up? hmm. . . hehe.) We hit the big boys and started banging out the Riviera Maya's Greatest Hits. Day 4: Tristan, or as I am now calling him, The French Cave God, packed up our kit (all 60 kgs of it) into the jeep that was smelling oh so very much of cave swamp and headed to Cenote Dos Palmas. Dos Palmas is in Sistema Dos Ojos (right next door).

Cenote Diving Swamp Thing Jeep

The first dive we dropped in and went upstream. To our surprise there was a bit of current which made the dive interesting as I had never dealt with current before.

Current in a cave dive is interest for two reasons:

1) Air.  If you are penetrating with the current, you must make sure to use the same amount of air on the way out as you did on the way in, in order to ensure you stick to the rule of thirds (one-third in, one third out, and one-third for your partner).

2) Navigation. Although you should never rely soley on the current for navigation, you should note the flow on your way in and out.

The second dive we headed on the downstream line.  Dos Palmas was two nice no drama dives, with no restrictions and wide passages, but very beautiful and nice to have some space! Especially after training at Minotauro and Xunaan-Ha. Here I was really concentrating on respecting the proper cave posistion in relation to Tristan.

Day 5: On day five we only did one dive at Cenote Dreamgate!

Lowering tanks down to the Cenote.

Cenote Dreamgate is very beautiful with highly decorated passages. It is a bit more tricky of a dive because you encounter some very narrow passages that you must be careful as you go through as you do not want to kick the cave and destroy history! This Cenote is also the most famous for having Mayan pottery.

The main thing that Tristan and I were having fun doing was navigating ourselves around to differnt parts of the cenote to see what we wanted. It is quite fun to sit there with the map and plan your dive and then to see the markers that you have seen on the map! The french cave god was especially fond of seeing different Cenotes during a dive, that is to go from one cenote to another. It does make you feel rather adventuras and like you have a destination! Plus I just like the pretty light that streams down through the rocks after you have been in the dark cave for a while. It is a nice contrast!

All in all a great two days! Stay tuned for more cavey adventures!