“Would you try to reach the hospital, or go for one last dive?”

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The discussion in the car is way over on the nerdy side, but it is charming because it defines a passion we all share. We don’t know each other yet but we will. Chris from Australia is driving the car, in the passenger seat an Italian guy and in the back seat, me and a guy from Germany. The next couple of days we will dive together into the fantastic cave systems of the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. Chris is talking about the infamous Banana Spider. He found one yesterday in his shoe when he was changing after diving. He explains that if bitten you will most likely die before you reach the hospital witch is an hour away, and if you get there alive, they don’t have any antidote. So, the question is: “would you rather go for one last dive in the fantastic caves?” We all laugh and conclude that we must remember to look into our shoes later.

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The pickup moves slowly into the rough dirt road. There is a rhythmic clinging sound from the tanks in the back that mix with the cicadas of the forest. All windows are open and I can see big iguanas every 2 minutes in the side of the road. Finally we stop and the intense heat makes me sweat instantly. We unload, go through the last briefing and head for the cave entrance. Everybody is quiet and just urge to get into the cool water.

I take off my shoes at the edge of the water. Place them in the shade and put a small branch into one shoe. It sticks out and makes me remember to empty whatever else is in there when I come back out. Then I take a giant stride into the small pond.

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I rinse my mask and take a look around under water. The sight is absolutely breathtaking. I will never get used to this experience. It is absolutely no particles. It is the clearest water I ever dive in. I can see far into the cave lights from another group returning on the guideline. They are maybe 80 feet away.

We do a leak check, some short hand signals and then start swimming into the fantastic cave. It is estimated over 8000 cenotes in Yucatan and they think they are all connected somehow. So I can probably return to this area and explore new parts for the rest of my life. What a wonderful thought.

Most of the diving here is shallow and you get extended bottom times. This makes the experience even more spectacular. We swim along the guideline through narrow passages, into large halls and along breathtaking formations of stalagmites.

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After about 10 minutes we enter into a narrow shaft leading into a big room. Bright blue beams of light goes through the crystal clear water and lights up the bottom. The giant room is only half filled with water and the beams of light is the sun shining through holes in the ceiling. We slowly ascend to the surface and float around in the room. Everything we say echoes in the walls. What a magic place. Only way in here is diving. In the ceiling we can see numerous birds nests and lots of bats hanging upside down. The birds build nests in here because no predators coming in through the small holes.

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The German signals he has reached 2/3 of his air supply. It is time to return. In this whole area basic cave diving rules apply. You easy recognize everything from any cave diving class. At safety stop I can se up and out of the water. Divers on land are getting ready to dive. Weird. Never seen so clear water.

A thought came to mind. “When I get up, I must not forget to check my shoes”.

 

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