I arranged my cenote dive with Motmot Dive shop the day before. I spoke with the dive guide, Scott, and got the feel of what I was to expect on the dive. If I was lucky and no one showed up for tomorrow's dive, I would have a one-on-one dive with Scott. Incidentally, Motmot is a type of bird that is often found at the entrances of cenotes and it's how the Mayans typically discovered new cenotes.
When I showed up in the morning, I got the good news that it was only going to be Scott and I that were going to dive. Good. I was little rusty in my diving skills, not having gone diving in two years. I needed all the one-on-one experience I could get.
After getting outfitted with my diving gear we drove to the Dos Ojos (two eyes) cenote. For those who don't know what a cenote is, in the Yucatan, cenotes are typically underground freshwater pools made of limestone. Some are open water pools while others are enclosed, more like caves. Dos Ojos is surrounded with dense jungle vegetation with a partially enclosed cave. Some of the above ground tree roots penetrated the roofs of the cave system. It looked like a perfect background for a Spielberg Jurassic Park movie.
The entrance to the cenote.
Roots coming through the roof.
The difference in diving a cenote versus open water diving are such things as the way you kick - you don't kick up and down because that stirs up the soft bottom. Instead, you use the kick of the breast stroke and kick horizontally. Also, there is a bright yellow line stretched along the diving path. You try to avoid touching the line as well as the limestone formations, the stalagmites and the stalactites.
One of the other rules pertains to oxygen utilization. When you are half way into the dive, you should have two-thirds of your oxygen remaining, leaving another third to exit. The last third is there only for emergencies. Thus, in most cases you come out with a third of you tank unused.
After getting suited up, we walked down the steps to the cavernous entrance of the cenote, weighted down by all the gear. After one last briefing, we jumped in, got our flashlights on and checked our buoyancy. Initially, I had trouble staying down, so Scott gave me an extra two pound weight, and off we went.
I must admit that in spite of having done numerous dives for over 35 years, my initial comfort level gave way to a very claustrophobic and somewhat unnerving feeling. I felt closed in and it seemed that I was using up more oxygen than I normally do in a dive. I was very uncomfortable - to the point that I wasn't sure I'd do the second dive. It was the deeper and darker dive of the two dives.