Thursday, 8 July 2010

... Mexico: Do or Dzonot?

The Yucatán Peninsula is famous for sinkholes with exposed rocky edges containing groundwater. They are called cenotes (Dzonot in Yucatec Maya) meaning "sacred well". A combination of various geological events and climate changes created this incredible and unique ecosystem. These caves and underground rivers were created naturally over 6,500 years ago. Over the past 20 years, experienced scuba divers have explored these caves discovering more than 480 km of interconnected passageways and caves that make up this amazing one of a kind ecosystem.

Sounded like an adventure to me!

Whilst I do not hold my technical diving certification for caves, what I do have meant that I could take on the adventure that is cavern diving in the cenotes. It sounded pretty adventurous to me and I was, needless to say, pretty excited. This was one of the reasons for this last minute trip and something I had planned for in advance.

What can I say? Diving usually leaves even someone like me pretty speechless. This 2 tank dive was just extra special - the opportunity to explore something totally different! Sure, I was a little nervous, I mean here I was as a slightly claustrophic diving in a bunch of caverns. But the sights that greeted me at Kukulcan & Chac-Mool cenotes..... wow.... well worth that initial panic! Even upon seeing the death sign warning me about how many people have lost their lives cave diving without the appropriate training!

The tranquil beauty of these pristine windows to the underwater world made me believe I was experiencing quite possibly the dive of my life floating through caverns full of crystal clear water, stalagmites and stalactites and the cavern that we surfaced within. The light effects are amazing, as sunlight penetrates the darkness. Then of course there was the phenomenon that is a halocline. Unforgettable.

Now here comes the Science: What is a halocline? Well, it's the density interface between the fresh and saline waters, meaning a sharp change in salt concentration over a small change in depth. Mixing of the fresh and saline water results in a blurry swirling effect due to refraction between the different densities of fresh and saline waters. Easiest way to think about it? Like mixing oil and vinegar. Basically it's bloody cool and diving in a cenote cavern is an unforgettable experience.

Post-dive eats were well deserved me thinks.

Todo se veía tan sabroso... Una vez resuelto lo que era en Inglés (Gracias Olimpia!).  Tortillas de cangrejo y camarón (Crab & shrimp tortilla.... delish!)

Tomorrow's "regular" scuba diving is going to have to be pretty special to beat this.

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