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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First weeks in Pez Maya !!!

After a 2 hour ride from Playa del Carmen to Pez Maya, our home for the next 5 or 10 weeks, we got right into life on base. The first few days consisted of a lot of paper work, lectures and just getting used to being on base. We had multiple lectures about things like safety, goals of the station, coral reefs, dangers of the reef, Lionfish, along with fish and coral tutorials so that we could start learning about the things we were going to be monitoring in a few weeks. The open water course also started that weekend for those who were not certified. Along with absorbing all of the information given to us, we were all just getting used to life on base. Things like getting used to the fact that the toilets are bucket flush and having our first bucket showers (we`re only allowed 4 buckets a week). Then getting used to the bugs, which I still don’t think everyone has. Just about everyone has bites somewhere despite the endless amounts of bug spray used, having our bug nets all tucked in around our beds, and wearing long sleeves and pants at night despite the warm weather. They just always seem to find a way!

Then once the weekend was over many of us actually started diving! I was among the lucky few who got to experience the first dive of the phase. We went to a very shallow site (only about 5m deep) and went over some skills as review, and then just looked around and enjoyed the dive. While the certified divers got to go on dives, those taking their open water course got to drive into Tulum 4 at a time (over 3 days) and do their confined dives. From what I heard they were long days in a very cold pool, but afterwards most of the groups got to go get some food, and go on the internet for a little while.

By Wednesday most people had at least been on a dive, whether it was in the pool or in the ocean, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and we had three days with no diving. We were kept busy between studying, doing our duties (kitchen duty is an all day anyways – cooking breakfast lunch and dinner for 30 people is a lot of work to say the least), lectures, some trivia quizzes and we even had an afternoon where we crowded into a room, and laid out some mattresses to watch “end of the line”. Then Saturday we all got back out for a dive but finished the day by 2pm so that we could have our first party night! We had loads of fun and all got to know each other a little better. Come Sunday morning we all fended for ourselves in the kitchen and the majority of the group went into to Tulum to contact back home, get some different food (some meat and cheese, which is scarce on base) and do some shopping. Over all, the week was full of lots of new experiences, adjusting and learning, but also lots of fun and getting to know one another.