Cenotes: underground cave and cavern systems in Yucatán
I got into diving in 2010. My mum had told me to go and try it, because she used to dive a lot during our holidays in Turkey. I’ve never given it much thought. “It’s another world down there” is what I’ve heard people saying about it.
While being on exchange in Venezuela I got certified and kept going with the courses until I became a Rescue Diver. Loved that course a lot! If you go straight through the main courses from PADI (that’s the dive organisation I got certified with) it’s the third course after the Open Water and Advanced Open Water Course. Anyway, I got into it a bit more and started to really, really like it! But it was not my passion yet, it was a hobby, something different from all the other hobbies though, but only a hobby back then.
But still I wanted to keep going!
I wanted to master my dive skills and deepen my knowledge about everything involved with diving.
I decided to enroll in the Divemaster training course, which, after completing, gives me the opportunity to work in a diveshop and guide other divers and assist instructors in certain parts of the training courses.
Playa del Carmen
Three years ago on my first trip to Mexico I also visited Playa del Carmen and went diving for three days. I loved it there so much that I felt that I had to do my course there. (Plus the courses and diving in general is reaaaaallly cheap compared to other countries.) The Scuba Tribe was the shop I dove with the last time so I went with them again, because I already knew how the people were and I knew it was one of the smaller dive shops. I prefer smaller dive shops because you have a different relationship with them than going with the big ones! I’ve been talking to the owner Hector for quite a bit before I finally came over to start my Divemaster course in Playa del Carmen. They taught me very well and I enjoyed diving with them the whole time!
After I “graduated” as a Divemaster I got invited by some friends to go diving in Cenotes. They are all incredible cave divers and love the cenotes!
Diving in Cenotes
Cenote originates from ancient Maya and means well. The Mayans used it to offer to their gods.
Cenotes are fresh and salt water caves and caverns all across the peninsula of Yucatan. Imagine the peninsula as swiss cheese – yeah you got it right, that’s what they look like (not the cheesy part of course, but stick to the holes and go further and think of tunnels that are all connected somehow!)
I didn’t enjoy diving there at first because I tend to get cold easily, but a hood can work wonders! My friends were talking and telling me about places like Angelita, Dreamsgate and Hell’s Bells a lot. All the time. I figured it must be something really, really special. I went online and found this stunning article about Angelita. Those pictures are amazing – a bit freaky, but simply amazing!
All three cenotes are unique in their own special way!
This cenote is the “easiest” to reach from Playa del Carmen, because you can follow the highway towards Tulum for most of the way and then take a left. (Most of the other cenotes are hidden in the jungle and it can take you forever to get there). Cenote Angelita has this hydrogen sulfide cloud at about 33 metres, which you cannot see through and it really just looks like the clouds we know from the sky. Angelita is a bigger, straight hole in the ground. Because of that you’ll always see some sunlight diving there.
Let’s take a ride through the jungle to get there! The dive site Dreamsgate provides two lines – meaning two dive sites. Nothing for beginners really, because your buoyancy needs to be perfect and you need to know how to frog kick. Otherwise you would stir up the bottom and silk up the entire cenote. The space is rather limited, but it is simply beautiful down there because of the richly and highly decorated walls. Stalagmites and stalactites all over. Small, big, thin, thick, broad, wide, narrow … anything you can really think of.
A rather short drive on the highway and then head into the jungle. For about an hour. That’s where you’ll find Cenote Hell’s Bells. It’s calm and you’ll probably be all by yourself when get there, it’s too remote from pretty much anything.
Why is it my best moment of this summer of 2014?
I got certified as a Divemaster and mastered my buoyancy while diving. I got to see not only great and amazing dive sites in Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, but also the cenotes which fascinate me, they enchanted me and got their magic spell on me! You can go diving in the ocean pretty much anywhere, but the cenotes are something so unique and special and challenging as well. With challenging I mean more the mental part of it. I got and still get scared a little bit when I jump into the cold, fresh water and put my face down to see what awaits me below. When I went to Angelita and we dipped into the hydrogen sulfide cloud I couldn’t see anything but the lights of our lamps. It got really scared to lose the guide or the other diver. So I held onto the guides hand. He made fun of me afterwards – which is not cool, man!!
But I managed to go diving in Hell’s Bells where you’ll encounter one of those hydrogen sulfide clouds as well.
This summer has taught me so much about myself and that diving really turned into a passion that I will not give up for anything! There is no better feeling in the world than silently and motionless floating in the water with a fin-kick every once in a while. The calm space underneath the water, the seeming endless sight (on good days), the depth beneath you. You just take up a teeny-tiny spot in the huge world under the surface that you can only encounter diving.
Go diving, folks! Go diving!
Keep on travelling,