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Friday, February 25, 2011


Hello guys and gals! Happy belated Valentines Day to all our sexy readers out there. Hugs and Kisses. A thousand apologies for the recent gap in blog entries, but I swear we have an explanation. That explanation begins with Playa and ends in Del Carmen. About 20 brave volunteers made the 4 hour bus ride from Mahahual to the lush beaches of Playa for our long weekend. While zero scientific research was done over the course of the weekend, we strengthened our already amazing friendships with a few strong drinks and meals that don't involve porridge. The two Mexican bases (Pez Maya and Punta Gruesa) got a chance to party together for a couple of nights, with Punta Gruesa showing that they are clearly the superior base. Ahem. Meanwhile, a few lucky volunteers got a chance to dive the freshwater caverns (cenotes) that dot the Mayan Riviera. In fact, the Mayans found these cenotes to be very sacred, both for the sustenance they provided and the beauty they exude. Those Mayans were certainly on to something! Anyhow, we all made it back alive, ready to get back to some science.

Fast forward --- Did I say science? Clearly mother nature does not want us helping her out as the wind has been far too strong for us to go diving this past week. Basically, if the wind howls, we cannot make it out past the breaking waves to get to the reef. And let me tell you, these Mexican Carribbean winters can be fierce. We even had snow on a few occasions. That's right. Snow. OK, we didn't have snow, but since we couldn't get on with the science, we had to come up with a plan B. That plan was to head down to Xcalak, a lovely fishing village of about 400 nestled squarely within a massive national marine reserve. Over the course of the two days in Xcalak, we got in 3 dives including an amazing night dive. Of course the highlight was our interaction with a manatee (aka. dugong, sea cow, mermaid). The manatee first appeared as we were getting set to jump in the water on our second dive of the day, but then he/she mysteriously disappeared as we descended. Swift creature, the manatee is. About half way through the dive, we spotted the majestic animal swimming in the open water, cruising along the surface. The next 10 minutes were spent screaming in joy as we accompanied the mermaid on her journey. Soon we said goodbye to the manatee and to Xcalak, as headed home with a few more things checked off our bucket lists.

As of today, the wind still howls, but we remain positive that we will get back to our science. For the interns on base, news has spread of where their 12 week dive shop placements will be (Xcalak, Mahahual, Playa Del Carmen, or Cozumel). There are also rumblings of a trip to Belize, Guatemala, Antigua, and Honduras for the upcoming two week break. So while these 10 weeks are going very quickly, the memories, past and future, will certainly last a lifetime. Now I'm off to go see about a tribal themed bonfire party.....

More Hugs and Kisses,

Your Faithful Correspondent (Patricio).