Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mexico Log, Part 6

Thursday, 1/4/07

We're all up for a fix-it-yourself breakfast before Amanda, Joel & I head off for Dos Ojos cenotes. "Cenote" is a Mayan word that means "fresh water (underground) sinkhole": basically, this describes a whole system of underground fresh-water river-filled caverns that flow beneath the Yucatan peninsula. In fact, one guide told us that the whole peninsula is pretty much like Swiss cheese, it's so riddled with these things. Dos Ojos is one of the main places to enter the system, Hidden Worlds being the other nearby in Quintana Roo state. (Those of you who saw the iMax Journey Into Amazing Caves film would instantly recognize Dos Ojos, as most of the filming was done here.) Many folks scuba dive this system, but since none of us are certified we just snorkeled on top.

After picking up our guide Isais we drove down a VERY bumpy dirt road (Mexico seems to have no end of these) to the caves entrance. We all got our gear (fins, snorkel & mask, flashlights and, for us, life jackets) and then Isais took us to a platform where we could jump in to test the water temperature. Wetsuits were available, but the water was about 78˚, warmer than most lakes - pools, even! - get to be in the hottest Michigan summers. Once we actually got our gear on & started in, it was like being transported to a whole new world. The photos here were lifted from the web, and mostly feature scuba shots; you'd have to imagine us floating on TOP of this water, looking down on all these scuba-ers.

Looking down on swimmers at the cavern entrance.

An amzing underground water world.

Inside the "bat cave."

Sometimes we'd be in tunnels so low that our snorkels would scrape the cave ceiling above us, but a huge cavern would be open below us, perhaps 30-45' deep. There would be two layers of tourists: the snorkelers on top, and the scuba-ers below. Isais led us into one cave that, above the water, was only about 12" high and no bigger than the area inside a patio table umbrella; it was VERY crammed, with four people jostling around bumping into each other, the ceiling, and various stalactite formations. But, as soon as a feeling of claustraphobia would start to creep in, all I had to do was put my mask in the water and see that we were floating near the "ceiling" of an enormous room, with as many as 25 more people in there with us...just BELOW us! Pretty cool.

After the tour we met Bruce, Sue & Tess at Imelda's for lunch, then the four "kids" shopped a little at the touristy stores in Akumal and played in the water by the dive shop. We sat down for beers, then walked back to La Sirena in need of a BIG siesta. I showered off the salt water after I woke up, and then it was time for a make-your-own-pizza night. We all kind of seemed beat that night: we didn't go out for drinks, electing instead to stay at the condo, drink beers, smoke cigarettes (not Tess, of course!) and bullshit. One enormously entertaining part of all this was watching a path of leaf-cutter ants go back & forth in front of the porch. Some seemed very busy but carried nothing, many were trundling along in a line with bits of leaf (some quite large bits, which rather turned into sails in the stiff breeze, requiring a Herculean effort on the part of the ants), and every once in awhile some idiot ant would grunt by with a large (for him) flower. We liked to imagine him saying "Hey guys, this'll really look nice in the ant-hole, don't ya think? Guys?"

A line of marching ants.

Ants being blown by leaf "sails."

Idiot ant with large red flower.

We all knew we had an early morning the next day, so bedtime was rather early.


Blogger L*I*S*A said...

Love those cave/cavern pics! WOW...I'm not normally claustrophobic, but that might make me reconsider it.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Tess said...

I would have loved to go, but opted not for a couple reasons:

1.) I can't see without my glasses. I'm half tempted to start learnin braile now so that I'm ready for the day when I can no longer be fit with a prescription.

2.) EVERY time someone tries to put me into water equipment, it's very awkward due to the horrible fit, and/or I get water in my mask and can't see anyway, and/or my flippers fall off.

Up until this trip, I would try and try to wear this ill-fitting gear, but I decided to not fall for it this time! No Charlie Brown/footbal gags for me! But I do really wish I could have gone.

9:52 AM  
Blogger sdb said...

Cool snorkeling trip!

FYI, they do make prescription snorkel equipment. But they may not have it to rent everywhere and you may not want to buy it if you have a changing scrip. Options anyway...

9:10 PM  
Blogger Tess said...

They mentioned habing prescription goggles at one of the places, but then took one look at the smallness of my head and decided that I'd never be able to keep my head up for the weight of the lenses. I decided not to chance it, given my past experiences.

8:01 AM  

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