hola de playa del carmen! the internet connection finally got up and running here the other day, it was one of many minor casualties of hurricane dean. while he was little more than a tropical storm here, the mexicans say that "dean nos despeino un poco" (messed up our hair a little).
jane and i did a whale shark snokeling trip-- after a few hundred dives and not seeing a freakin' whale shark i figured the mountain was definitely not coming to muhammad this time. so i strapped on a snorkel and let the mexicanos hunt down the world's biggest fish for us. while we only saw 3 of them (other days they've seen loads, b/w 10-20 or 60-70 even), i'd definitely recommend it if you grew up watching jacques cousteau shows like i did. pretty damn cool. the picture here is definitely not one we took, but you'll get the idea. the one downside of doing a whale shark trip rather than naturally encountering them is that you get 3 boats of about 70 ppl circling 1-2 poor whalesharks, hopping into the water and swimming in their face until the whale shark reaches peak irritation and dives down well beyond a snorkeler's reach. i'm pretty sure jacques would frown on this, but i'm older now and realizing that his is french i naturally think less of his opinion than previously ;-)
if you make it down to "playa", make sure you grab dinner at yaxche and that you spend an afternoon down in tulum at the ruins and the impeccable beach club, ana y jose. ana y jose is a very cool little hotel with a beach club that costs about 8 bucks per person. cheap drinks, good food, nice tunes, shaded loungers, and miles of white sandy beach. tip o' the sombrero to dean for the great recommendations on both places.
another of the highlights was the cenote diving at the cenote dive center. cenotes are a fancy spanish word for "cave filled with water". i drove down to tulum (this time solito) to dive a couple cenotes for the afternoon. we did the "calaveras" & "grand cenote", both which were impressive. calaveras was cool due to the presence of a halocline, a layer of fresh water sitting on top of the salt water below it. i'd never seen a halocline before so diving it was really interesting. it basically makes a oily, hazy mess of the water in front of you when you transition b/w layers of water. given that you're trying to follow someone about 7 feet on front of you in a dark cave, the effect, while interesting, is also a little unnerving.
the grand cenote was more accessible and had a lot more people there (both snorkeler's and divers) in contrast to the calaveras where we hiked a little ways into a mosquito-infested jungle before jumping into a hole 10 feet below us. there's a reason for this: it's a lot more impressive. the grand cenote is a cavernous system with towering stalactites and stalagmites you swim around. as you cruise through the passages, you occassionally get a glimpse of the emerald green water near the open air. the affect is indescribably cool. the best part was coming back at the end and looking at the 3 ladders dangling in the water, which under the brilliant green water and surrounded by the cave seemed like something out of a fairy tale (or, being a bit dorkier than most, the game "myst"). i was more than happy to climb out of the rabbit hole, however, as for the last 10 minutes i couldn't stop thinking " sweet lord what would happen if there was an earthquake and we were stuck in here?"
alright, time for a little more chilean wine and neil gaiman's "fragile things". hasta pronto,
btw, thanks to whoever took the pics!