cenote cave diving


the centones are basically sink holes or collapsed cave ceilings that have flooded with water.  very very clear water.  not all cenotes are associated with active cave systems, but the two we dove were definitely active at one time, both having many beautiful cave formations.
 weird to do a little hike in your gear through jungle and then get into fresh water.
tajma ha mexico 
i'm not gonna lie, these dives were a little mentally challenging.  first off, the rules are a little different with air usage, buoyancy, and surfacing.  nothing crazy, just different.  with these considerations in the back of your head, you then have to dive down into darkness (with a flashlight) and become completely enclosed in a rock system.  
once we started descending, i began playing out escape scenarios in my head.  telling myself - instead of focusing on the negative: surfacing isn't an option, think about the positive: there are five of us down here, which means four back up regulators if my air runs out.  four other flashlights.

in dive training years ago, i remember the instructor saying that you can forget basic things when you are out of your comfort zone under water.  this dive was the first time that has really happened to me, and it was forgetting how to control my buoyancy.  i was weighted a little heavy and for the life of me couldn't figure out how to not just sink to the bottom.  thankfully our dive master was like, hello, inflate your bcd a little.  duh.  i'm actually glad i experienced that forgetfulness in a safe environment - it's a good lesson for the future.

all of this was in the first five minutes, and i'd like to think i pulled it together for the rest of the dive :)  it's easy to forget you are nervous when soaring among stalactites and bacon formations.  but let's just say my air consumption was a little embarrassing the first dive.

cenote diving is incredible for a few reasons.  the visibility is insane.  you can see as far as you can see in the air on a clear day.  there is very little visible life.  it's like spelunking with the ability to fly.  at some points there are open pools and the light shining down through the water to the cave floor looks like aliens beaming up objects to their ship.

other than the incredible light displays, i think the coolest part of the dives was swimming up and down through the halocline.  at some point, the caves get deep enough that they are below sea level.  below this depth the water is salty, and above it the water is fresh.  the line where the two meet is called a halocline, and the effect of the waters next to each other is beautiful.

this is a pic of the halocline that someone else took where you can clearly see the dividing line.
and here's a really cool pic someone took of one of our dives through the cave named 'tajma ha'.  it did look like this in real life, but alas, there just was not enough light for our camera.
tajma ha
and finally, here's a video i made of our dives.  the lighting is terrible because it's so super dark, but it's the best we could do without better equipment.  i think you can get a good idea of what it feels like to be down there.

playa del carmen


mexico.  can we please move to mexico? please? it just feels like home.

we've just returned from a very relaxing family vacation celebrating eric's mom's birthday.  i've been to mexico a few times, but never to a resort or touristy town.  this trip to mexico was all-inclusive and in the riviera maya, both firsts for me, and, admittedly, i was pleasantly surprised.  i've always been a little snobby about it.  like, if you're going to spend money to fly somewhere and stay somewhere, why don't you experience their culture and wildlife instead of just drinking by the pool in a fancy hotel - you can do that anywhere.

well i'm here to tell you that i finally get it.  boy was i wrong.
not only is drinking/eating whatever and whenever you want, by the pool or at the beach, wonderfully easy and fabulous, there is still plenty of culture and adventure around to experience if you want to.

what is a truly relaxing vacation meant for if not to completely escape and relax?  no decisions or thoughts are required past check-in; it's the time to check-out of reality.  perfection.  and, for me, a truly new experience, which in and of itself is something to be appreciated.

...at the same time, you know we can't go too long without needing to get out of the hotel and explore; do something local.  we succeeded big time by going on a couple of cave dives in the cenotes, something we've both been wanting to try for a while.  i think i'll save the dives for another post soon.  they were literally out of this world.

overall the trip was perfect.  i love eric's family, the food, the hotel, the beach, the weather; the people of the yucatan peninsula were wonderful.  we've always thought our expatriation would be in puerto rico.... now we've got another option :)

thank you patty for including us in your fantastic birthday celebration!
playa del carmen
^^hand-rolled cigars every evening^^
^^before and after braiding fun^^

natalie and jonathon's wedding


we went out to colorado this weekend to celebrate eric's cousin natalie's wedding.  his whole family was there and it was great catching up with people we don't get to see very often.

natalie and the wedding were both absolutely beautiful!

also, my beautiful, pregnant, sister-in-law was a bridesmaid and we hadn't seen her since she was barely pregnant.  her bump is the cutest and i couldn't handle it!
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