Not feeling that hungry I eat half the yogurt granola cup but not the arugula egg salad we made too. We get to the dive shop 15 minutes early and park to the left of the stairs. Our driver and the Brazilian couple who will join us arrive at 7am. The driver drinks coffee with his headphones in while we all nap before getting to Playa del Carmen an hour later (with speeds up to 120km/h). The driver introduces us to Claudio, who will be our guide, and who preps our gear while the other two groups diving from the same boat arrive.
We wait in the sand and I attempt to find shade on the side of a truck. I see all the boats tied up and try to follow their ropes that disappear into the sand. One boat of divers are bringing guns to catch dinner; the only weapon I shoot is a (was going to use a Canon joke here) GoPro to catch smiling sharks and frowning fish. I remove my flip-flops for the walk through sea grass and thigh-high water. I find my tank, where I’ll be sitting, and have Caleb to my left and another dive buddy, girl from Germany, to my right.
It’s a 45 minute boat ride to the first dive site and not much conversation with the sun, wake, and wind that’s hitting the guys in the back while I sit in the shade with the breeze through my hair. I’m the fourth in the water via one giant stride forward but the last one to the bottom (I’m a slow equalizer). The couple goes down dating and comes up engaged. The guy got on his knee in the sand and presented the ring, but their GoPro was dead at the surface, so they did not get proof.
The German girl begins to surface and then stays within five feet of it and follows us from there (turns out this was her fourth dive and she was having trouble with the pressure in her ears). I’m glad Claudio is so adaptable as he was also busy buddy breathing (two people on one air tank) with the new engaged groom while guiding the rest of us on a dive, with 40 minutes bottom time, so that the soon-to-be-bride could point out the sea turtle as we were ready to end the dive.
I have a banana and half a hoagie of cheese and tomato (less flopping about while diving equals less appetite after) during our 40 minute surface interval before taking a giant stride off the back of the boat for round two. As I’m descending, a surfer looking merman approaches me to make sure my ears and air are ok, but I let him know it’s not me he has to worry about. I realize the guides talked and he’s here as a spare tank of air for the fiancé. As he retires to the boat the fiancé goes back to Claudio to complete our 50 minute dive at a shallower depth.
We see a couple of eels, tons of crabs (at least their cribs and eyes), a lobster with a friend, and a ray in the distance. I’ve learned that most rays are accompanied by a cleaning fish and love the other-species buddy system in nature, especially when some animals eat their own young. This makes humans such awkward creatures as we make laws to enforce kindness/dominance upon our own species and attempt to share it with other animals as they fit our needs for food, farming, fun, and friendship.
I ride with my eyes closed, possibly half asleep, with my wetsuit on and unzipped back to the beach and wait for Caleb to prep our bags for me to help carry. The driver loads the gear in the back and turns up the a/c so I can sleep in the middle with my sleeves off in a warmer environment back to Cancun, and to the room as Caleb drives. I try to describe the amount of exhaustion I feel and know something is not right. Caleb just wants to get me in the house and helps to remove my wetsuit while I sit limp on the bed.
I pee out my butt and lay down (or get pulled into a sleep position by Caleb) for a three-hour nap with an open bag of fig snacks. I think it’s the next morning when I wake at 6 pm and am ready to eat before we dive. Caleb agrees we can eat, but also get more sleep before tomorrow. I eat the Danone Oikos con Frutos Verdes en el Fondo (“Oikos with green fruit in the background” — apple, kiwi, grape) Greek yogurt before we walk to 100% Natural for dinner.
Caleb orders an appetizer and a green juice (mostly celery) to share and I eat half my Basque-style pancakes (sourdough) with mixed berries and cream cheese so we can get back to the room because I will poo at the restaurant and again back at the house. I sleep from 830 to 1130, through Finn and his friends drinking and cooking nachos. I will poo again and have more pancakes and water. I didn’t know if it was street meat (food poisoning), the bends (fatal bubbles in my body), or lupus (an 85% women disease), but as I lay in a slumber of sickness Caleb had been on Google.
The internet told him that my symptoms meant I had heat exhaustion. I was hot, tired, and achy and swimming against a current in an unneeded 7mm wetsuit in a high humidity environment with a lack of sunscreen that leads to cooked skin that wasn’t helping my condition. I fall back asleep only to wake at 1 am in a sweat to pee. Caleb is having trouble sleeping with all the noise and my tossing about. He insists I drink more water and says we will get some Gatorade before our four dives tomorrow before asking me to message Nina, our hostess, about the noise and lights being left on.