Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Yucatan, Mexico, March 2006

In March 1997, when I first stepped off the bus in a sleepy little town known as Tulum, I knew nothing about Yucatan's hidden underworld.

But as soon as I did, I was spellbound and remained until September 1998, working as a dive instructor and cavern guide for Aktun dive center, to earn my keep and be able to submerge into darkness as often as possible.

Ever since, Mexico for me is Tulum, its endless beach and its sacred cenotes. I can still feel the blazing Caribbean sun, see the Mayas going about their business, taste the fajitas, caldo de pollo, mole, quesadillas, guacamole, frijoles, naranjadas, dos equis, ...

I can still hear the stillness of the caves. And whenever I remember, I want to gear up, strap on some double tanks, route the long hose, check the primary light & back-ups, clip on some reels, jump in a cenote's refreshing waters, perform a bubble check, tie-off, do some jumps & close some gaps, dive through restrictions, turn around according to the rule of thirds, and experience the always magnificent return to the blessing of light...

Despite all these fond memories, or maybe exactly because of them, it took more than five years before I returned for a short two weeks holiday. Tulum by then had finally awakened and lost its drowsy charm. Tourism had arrived. But, while relatively popular above ground, its underworld luckily remained unvisited by most, a privilege for the few that dare leave the daylight behind.

After that short re-reconnaissance trip in April 2004 I knew I had to go back for more...

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