For those of you who didn't hear about my 6 weeks in Mexico...

Mahahual Travel Blog

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Mexico is possibly the best country I have ever been to, I am head over heels in love with it. Despite spending most of my time on base, I managed to explore the Yucatan Peninsula at weekends. I'll start at the beginning though...

Life on base was very basic. Wake up was at 5.50 every morning with duties beginning at 6. We did four duties - kitchen, communal, beach and boats - on a rotational basis, my favourite being beach (we walked around with a big rake, listening to music). Kitchen was stressful but enjoyable, cooking for 35 odd people with very basic ingredients is easier said than done. Our kitchen group was obviously the best, with Julie in charge of us all we produced some lovely curries, and I even managed to knock up some more than passable puddings and cakes.

Aside from duties, our day consisted of one or two dives a day (compressor and weather permitting), compressor duties, radio duties, or subathing duties. I feel I excelled at the latter duty, and raced through all of the books I had packed with me. We were allowed showers once every four days, and it was military style showers with a trickle of water. We never felt quite clean, and at one point it was proving near impossible to rub suncream in, but surprisingly I didn't care. I didn't even care that the toilets were bucket flush, and that we had to walk down the beach to fill the bucket up every time we had been to the loo. I particularly enjoyed it when I was joined in the loo by a scorpion.
If Fi gives me permission I'll put her tour base video up soon.

The staff were all brilliant, and all the EMs on base were lovely.
I don't want to start mentioning names as I'm sure I'll forget someone, but they were all brilliant and I have made some firm friends for life. I was initially nervous having made friends with the group from Pez Maya on my "training" week, but I soon settled in.

The diving was awesome as well. As I'm sure you're aware, I wasn't a diver before setting off for Mexico. After a failed open water course in Tulum (GVIs fault not because I was a terrible diver) I felt like I was being thrown in at the deep end. I soon got the hang of it though, although I still hate taking my mask off, and all sorts of marine life came out to greet me. On my first official open water dive I was lucky enough to see two huge spotted eagle rays, which turned out to be fairly common on the reef.
Throughout my dives I saw a nurse shark, turtles, lots of rays and much more. The best has to be dolphins though, which I saw twice!! Once after my peak performance buoyancy dive, we were just handing our dive gear back to the boat when we were joined my dolphins. We snorkelled off with them and were treated to a display of how buoyancy should be done, with a special acrobatic display. It was such an amazing experience. I was also lucky enough to dive with four dolphins on one of my monitors, not that I neglected my monitoring duties to swim after them, obviously.

Other than that, my weekends were spent exploring. On my first weekend Fi, Mike and I went to Cancun (a hideous, Americanised place I would not recommend to anyone) to snorkel with whale sharks.
We may have booked into a 5* hotel during our stay (bliss), but it was cheap. Whale sharking was incredible, although daunting at first! We were surrounded by 50 or 60 whale sharks, which can grow to 50ft! Jumping in the water with them was a terrifying prospect, but I am so glad I did. They didn't care that we were with them, and it was amazing watching these giant creatures so elegantly swim by. Fi had the misfortune of a huge tail in the stomach, but other than that it was brilliant.

The following weekend Fi, Mike, Tim and I went to Tulum to cenote dive and visit Coba ruins. At this stage I had only done 20 dives, so the idea of cenote diving filled me with dread. This was not helped by the news that the first Cenote (helpfully named 'The Temple of Doom') had no entry other than a giant leap with a 10ft drop.
I came close to chickening out, but some gentle encouragemnt/bullying from the boys and I was in the Cenote. The Temple of Doom wasn't overly spectacular in itself, but it had a halocline which is something I have always wanted to see. It was beautiful, and so weird swimming through as the water goes misty in front of you. The second Cenote, 'Grande Cenote', was stunning. I'm very glad I was bullied into it! A quick Mexican lunch and we were on our way to Coba ruins. We hired bicycles, Fi and I riding in a civilised manner and the boys racing off. The ruins were awesome, but climbing them was hard work. We went quite late so we didn't have to share the view with anyone. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to stay there until sunset, but scrambling down in the dark would have been interesting.
I'm not sure the photos really do it justice, it was stunning.

On our third weekend Fi, Mike, Tim, Julie, Michael and I went to Xcalac to dive. It's a tiny, sleepy fishing village 2 hours or so south of base. We booked into the first 'hotel' we found, which was a big mistake. The diving was good, lots of swim throughs and interesting marine life. It was good to get some dive experience away from base as well. That evening we went for a lovely dinner at the 'Leaky Palapa' followed by a few cheeky drinks with some of the DMs from the dive company.

On the final weekend Fi and I had a romantic weekend away to Bacalar. Incredibly relaxing and girly, we had massages and did nothing strenuous. On the first day we visited the lagoon, which was good, but nothing in comparison to the Cenote Azul which we visited the following day.
A beautiful Cenote, with a very good restaurant overlooking it. You could climb to the restaurant roof and jump into the Cenote, something which I obviously did repeatedly (yeah right!). Fi was much braver than I though, and managed the jump after much deliberation and some taunting from some nice local men. She survived to tell the tale, but that did not encourage me.

So for those of you who I have neglected to tell (assuming you read this far), I'm not coming home. I've been in Houston for the last week with Tim. The intention was to buy a van (called Fi) to travel Central America in. Unfortunately, buying a van is more complicated than either of us had anticipated and the plan has gone out the window. We've booked onto the overnight Greyhound bus service tomorrow (12th September - HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM) and will be back on Mexico early Sunday.

For the record Houston is crap, never ever come here. There is a limited public transport system, which is impossible to work out and infrequent. When we eventually managed to get the bus downtown we realised there was nothing there, apparently everything has moved into the "suburbs". The first day we ventured downtown was apparently Labor Day, so we had a scary "28 Days Later" moment and managed to find nothing open, and nowhere to eat. We eventually found someone who could understand our accents (seriously I'm English, I speak English in the correct manner...) and managed to get another bus to the Galleria. We found the first restaurant that isn't fast food (The Cheesecake Factory) and got the biggest meals I have ever seen in my life.
America does everything on a huge and lazy scale.
They even have drive through Starbucks and banks. It may be the land of opportunity, but the opportunities are hard to come buy if you happen to travel on foot.
Today we tried to go the space centre. They don't have a bus that runs there. Houston is surely associated with NASA, but they don't have a bloody bus that runs straight there. We worked out that the 249 gets us close enough, but by the time we had found the 249 bus stop it was too late. We did however stumble across an info centre that informed us that on a Saturday (the day that most people would visit potentially, and the day that it has the longest open hours) the 249 bus doesn't run.

Enough said really. We cannot wait to get back to Mexico, so I'm off to pack. I'll update as regularly as possible.

jlchatham says:
Hi! Great pics! What camera did you use to take the underwater shots?
Posted on: Nov 01, 2009
justdenise says:
Your very brave young lady! Nice work on the photography! I'm terrified of fish but love the ocean!
Posted on: Nov 01, 2009
vulindlela says:
You have some very nice pictures!
I love the sunsets!!!
Posted on: Nov 01, 2009
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