Published: April 14th 2012March 13th 2012
It’s so clear it’s like the real world out there. As you put your mask on, your fins and then your regulator in your mouth. You leap into a new world. By the end you’d either push through the fear factor or turn back and say, “This is not for me.” For those who go into the dark caves near Telum, Mexico you will be rewarded. Just when diving looked like tapering off for me, along comes a dive of another kind. You’ll get blurred visions like putting on old mans glasses on and a sense you are in the warm part of the baby pool.
Telum is the first major town coming north from Belize and what an introduction to Mexico. The town is just a small town, which doesn’t really excite much, which is a shame because I am definitely going to do my best to get myself back here one day.
I had a dive master I met a month earlier who gave me the heads up on what dives to do. So I will give these suggestions, Grand Cenote, Temple of Doom and Dreamgate. We went with Grand Cenote and the
Temple of Doom. (I’ll try and provide the links below.)
The massive positive with diving here is that it is not out at sea. They are caves that got flooded so instead of walking around you are hovering around in freshwater surrounding yourself in stalactites and stalagmites. Only a handful of countries have flooded caves and Mexico is the best place to do it.
Our dive master was really good. So good I will provide her details below and the dive company I went with. She was really good as one of us freaked out at the sight of a cave. David on the back of Honduras’ freak out in the cave didn’t wait to see if his eyes could adjust to the darkness that lay ahead and within the first minute I see David kick cycling back to surface.
The most experienced is out the back and the least experienced is at the front. Eleni was at the front so got prime views with the dive master. The dive master has this massive bright light, which illuminates the cave. I on the other hand was further back and missed a
few things like skeletal bones. The freshwater is cold and the 45 minutes you are under water it gets a bit much. So the tip is to say you are unexperienced and get the front position.
The first dive was nice but the 2nd
dive at Temple of Doom was otherworldly. It had some familiar things to the other dives like small tiny fish (actually saw the smallest catfish ever) but it has so many distinct things that I can only put towards this dive. Like when the air bubbles hit the roof of the cave. The bubble finds a gap in the cave roof that turns metallic as if you are on the set of Terminator 2 and the bad guy just got shot. It makes some noise also like cars are buzzing by above.
Each dive had a different lighting with the first dive pure fresh water giving it a blue filter whilst the second was a mixture between salt and freshwater. This gave it a green colour. This unique confined space of the Temple of Doom is separated with the top half freshwater which is freezing cold whilst the bottom half
is salt water which is warm.
There is a point however where the two waters meet. It is around the 10m mark where the dive takes on a new element as you reach the halocline. A halocline is when freshwater and salt-water meet and mix.
As you hit this mark, which is around 3m in depth (at times) you can hardly see a thing. Everything in front of you is blurred. It’s as if you have put on a pair of old mans glasses. It doesn’t matter which sight, you can’t see, short sighted or long distance. Sci-Fi writers must have dove here it has such an otherworldly experience.
With that thought I couldn’t help but use my breathing technique to move above the halocline to look clear through the halocline to the divers below and back to blurred visions. Breath out harder to move to the heavier salt water below to see again up and around to clear again. I have to admit I did spend most of my time in the salt-water section because of the extra warmth. It was like permanent pee around your whole wetsuit.
Because of the water being so clear and you are in a cave environment it is hard sometimes to remember you are underwater. One time Eleni had trouble with buoyancy and I wanted to yell out to her but realised shit that cant’ be done. The first dive I saw David up near the entrance basically snorkelling. He saw me and I resorted to just waving like it was too loud to hear us talk.
I eventually decided to be my own director and was pretending I was on that crane with the camera and looked on in awe, as the vision of 3 divers penetrating the caves was something I will always remember.
We ascended back to the hole we had to jump 3m to enter just 50 minutes earlier and couldn’t hold back my love for the dive. I didn’t want to rub it in with David, now the waiting photographer, but how could I. This is a must dive of the world.
We were in Mexico during Spring Break so we also hit up two areas Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Playa del Carmen is the alternative
for Spring Breakers who want a tamer break from College but it still parties. There is one bar called the Ambassador, for those on a budget, that can rightly get you drunk in no time. For less than $5 you can get a litre cocktail - They don’t mess about with the alcohol content either. It’s just that they use awfully cheap liquor to be able to do it. Still you have to do what you have to do.
There are many bars and clubs but we were there when it just began so not all places were full. Most bars charge from $35-65 to have an all you can drink deal for the night. The most famous is Coco Bongo, which is a Vegas style show of different artists and a club at the finish. The original is in Cancun but Playa del Carmen was the closest we got to going in.
The first night we organised a deal but wanted to make sure it was good. The guard let us have a look inside thinking it would be ‘the’ selling point. David opens the door to hear Usher and says, “No, nop
not going in.” That is not the funny point though; the best part was when he got the form of currency with the deal was in wrong.
US$1 equals around 13 Mexican pesos. So we negotiated something like $50 for all you can drink the next day if we paid today. David thinks we are talking Mexican money here. So even with the knowledge that the next day we would get basically free drink all night for less than US$4. David couldn’t do it because he heard Usher in the club knowing that we’d have to hear similar crap for the rest of the night. We didn’t find out David thought this until about half an hour later and I said “Wait you know we were negotiating in US dollars right?” “Were we… Well I’m definitely not going.”
With Coco Bongo off the list we had to find other options. We couldn’t drink $5 1 litres for the rest of the night. A hot tip was that from 1am if you have a female in your group you have a chance to enter for free in the clubs near the beach. So that’s what
we did. I bought 2 drinks and it set me back $13. For Mexico where a beer can cost you just over a dollar it is a lot.
JP 5 had a month left and at this point I wanted to relax a little so I stayed put in Playa del Carmen for a few days more whilst Eleni and David went to Merida. The beach is nice enough but no real waves so it was just sun bake and fall asleep.
We travelled 6 weeks together and as a whole I think we enjoyed our time together. There wasn’t any real moment we were at each others throat. Just one time when we almost missed a bus in Honduras because it took 2 hours to get ready. When you travel solo for so long it’s hard to get out of your own habits. Which was the same for Eleni and David having a third appendage.
I just found it more frustrating because we met at the end of the trip and I had virtually no cash left. I thought a few times how if I could take back a few
moments from my trip and instead spend it on that boat ride in Belize or an extra dive with my sister but that’s the way it goes. The timing was also poor as it was at the transition point on waiting for the interest free period to kick in on my credit card, which happened on the last few days but by then we were classing it up on a late deal at a Cancun all inclusive resort. For US$60 each we scored ourselves accommodation, all drinks and three meals a day.
We were expecting the Spring Break resort instead we got the affiliate of the Oasis group. I didn’t know this at the time so I would go on one of my two Cancun local bus adventures. There are two main parts to Cancun. The downtown area and surrounding suburbs (also referenced as the locals area) and then there is this peninsula known as the hotel district that stretches over 20km around in a semi circle. This is where all the Cancun major resorts lie. One after the other along the stretch of white sand.
The amount of people this employs alone must
cover over half the jobs for locals. The local bus is about 40 cents to travel on and rarely is there a tourist on it. This is because most don’t venture outside their resort. Instead for the bus to keep running they have their locals going to and from work. At night it’s different when you get the revellers out and about.
At first I didn’t feel like I was in Cancun Spring Break but soon enough evidence arose when guys in board shorts went and punched one out under the trees of hole 4 of the oasis golf course. Hole 5 had a guy teeing off.
Entering these resorts with my faded out red backpack on its last legs is a bit embarrassing really. From the outset you look like you don’t belong. Actually let me explain where the backpack is at.
Ever since Sierra Leone 12 months ago part of my strap on my main backpack broke meaning it has a decidedly mean lean toward the right. The spare daypack is only clipped on by two diagonal sides so that’s out of whack. The faded red also means the
backpack shows its dirty scares from being at the bottom of dirty buses. But what can you do?
So the party scene was not as I imagined at first with families and some annoying guy announcing cards with numbers in them and telling everyone over the PA in the two languages. “Ah vente tres! 23! OOOOO! Look what we have here, 34! Trente quarto!” That followed up with some water aerobics.
For the one full day I didn’t mind it but after that I started thinking, “I’m over it already.” I’m pretty sure the beer was watered down and the cocktails were very low in alcohol content. As the second day passed by of just lying down around a pool I noticed that very few people are getting out of the pool that are regulars. It wasn’t as warm as being underneath the halocline but it made me wonder.
I have to admit effort does wane every now and then, especially towards the end of a trip. And with the real Spring Break elsewhere on the peninsula, we were a bit content. Knowing I’m on my last years to fit into
the scene I got my arse into gear and headed to reception to ask about the real Oasis party. It’s amazing how asking simple questions at this point can sometimes feel like I’m in year 1. The teacher (which is my conscious) is saying, “No question is a dumb question.” Whilst my will power is devilling it up, “No don’t ask that question. You can find it out yourself you don’t need help.”
I ask the question confidently as if I have just arrived and not 3 days earlier. The guy informs, “Oh yeah its at the main Oasis Hotel, we can actually transfer you to stay there free of charge if you want!” Gotta be kidding me. We didn’t transfer but headed straight there for the day.
There was a $35 charge to get into the main part we were told but with the sneaking into the Sheraton Hotel experience two New Years ago in Addis Ababa I lead the pack and told Eleni and David to, “Just act like you belong here and we’ll just walk straight through the foyer and see how we go.”
We walk in and
straight out the back past the pool, a quick look at the beach to see where the party was at and up to the bar for free drinks. Unlike its affiliate the real Oasis packs on the alcohol content with their drinks.
Basically there were only a few things I wanted ticked off on my Spring Break experience one was to be on the beach with some music, another to see at the least one girl take her top off through peer pressure or because of her drunken self confidence. Whilst the final one was to play a game of gridiron on the beach… Oh and to get pissed. Let’s not forget that.
So, the music part was covered by some announcer with some hip shaking go-go dancers. He duly tells everyone that they are having a good time just in case they needed reassurance. It is a trait about the US at times. They need to be told how they feel. Like TV channel TBS’s slogan, which is “Very Funny”. No, no I can judge that. I feel Australia’s commercial TV is started to introduce that into our society. There was a lot
of songs being played but only the chorus part. David pointed out that and questioned at the same time, “This Z generation are not able to hear a song all the way through?”
At the beginning we didn’t know who were security guards or weather we were in the official section. Turned out we were at the front part open to the resort people whilst the back part was the $35 part. It didn’t bother us we were still in the party and getting free drink.
This Spring Break party did seem more of a sausage fest yet through encouragement from the crowd and the announcer sure enough through a mixture between encouraged pressure and drunken self-confidence number two of my list was covered.
With so many guys around, surely eventually an American football match would come out and as the afternoon came about one comes. It started with a game of catch to eventually a game around the deck chairs. I knocked down this buffed up guy with a beautiful tackle around the ankles front on. He went down like a bag of shit! A few plays later, I was
open and caught the ball, turned around and was given the same treatment by the deck chairs.
When we were just playing catch and I dropped the ball I acted like a defender in the real games. Like I meant to not catch that ball. Hands waving about… Prodding around… Incomplete!
With these heavy drinks being served of caipirinha I was pretty hammered at this point. To save our deck chairs we had to go two at a time and could only order 2 drinks each. So when David and I went up we decided to have a shot of Tequila because hey we are in Mexico. This must have been on par or more than a double shot. We put it down and walk away. David manages to turn around a scrap out a rough “Gracias,” whilst I couldn’t produce a thing it was that strong.
Sun had already passed behind the tall resort buildings and I was left alone with Spring Break for a few hours as Eleni and David called it a day. When they said goodbye the caipirinha or the tequila got the best of me… Or
maybe it was the game of gridiron but my sister soon said, “I can’t believe that you would put sand in your sisters hair when we are both in our 30’s?” After she gets up from being wrestled in the ground and covered in sand by yours truly.
I agreed I’ll see them for dinner as my sister trudged off, consoled by David because hey we gotta get my monies worth at the resort. Actually the last day was a tone down of the previous 3 days. I was close to vomiting I was eating so much. But on the last dinner I almost didn’t make it.
It was dark at this point and I was chatting who knows whom at the bar of the Oasis Resort and getting doubles of two drinks and what not. I leave at some point to catch the bus and the next thing I know I’m awake and not sure if I was asleep. I look around and wait a few stops and go “No this is not right?”
I get out and who knows where I am. I fell asleep for half an hour
and I am now in the suburbs of Cancun. Not thinking straight instead of walking across the road I walk to find another bus back where I came from.
Some Ryman two minute noodles later I ask the gas station attendant and I walk along some street to eventually share a taxi with some locals and chat. Get dropped off at a bus stop, which takes me to another bus stop where I catch the #1 bus home. It must have taken me 2 hours in what should have taken me 10 minutes to get back. And yes I got myself back in time for dinner.
The dive master for Telum is Gosia Pytel her email is – firstname.lastname@example.org
She took David separately once we finished which she didn’t have to do so David could get at least a better aspect than what he would have got.
Unfortunately the whole link thing I can't figure out so you are going to have to search yourselves on the dive sites.
There are more photos below