Sunday 14th March 2004
Old versus new, high tech versus low; sometimes the easiest solution to a problem is a matter of translation.
The first day of diving is tune up day. Time to get all the gear working the right way with no other agenda than to make sure all the gear is working the right way. Of course, that includes us. The biggest barrier to all of this is usually the human one.
The hole we are entering is called Cenote de Muchachos. It is an entrance that was found on the first year of the expedition. What was once a muck filled stagnant pool with debris, is now a cleared area with a deck and a path leading up to it. The pool that was once chocked with tree limbs and leaves is now clear with a ladder leading into it. Don Raphael, the landowner, has made improvements over the last four years. Where once we had to cut our way through thick jungle to reach the site, we can now drive up to the edge of the collapse; a big change over previous expeditions.
Karl and my mission for the day is a simple one. Dive in and come out alive and while we are there, make sure that the line arrows used to mark the cave line are properly positioned to point toward the nearest entrance. This is rather important in a system that is being actively explored because as new cenotes are found what used to be the closest exit may no longer be. So, as stewards of the system, it is our duty to make sure that navigational markings are properly displayed. Especially, when the systems is open to the public.
Mission accomplished. However, as we surfaced Terrence and Renee greeted us. “What happened, I asked?” We thought they would not be back yet. Their goal for the day was to cut a trail to another cenote in the system that is due south of Muchachos. It appeared that the GPS systems we were using had issues. On further investigation, we realized that the issue was not the machines, but the coordinates being used. Different units than the machines were reading. Oh well, live and learn. Terrence and Renee had defaulted to the old standby, the compass. When the toys don’t want to play, you go the old way.
Cutting on a due south heading, they stopped short of the cenote. Fearing they were not on the right track. As we learned later, they actually were.
Now the real work begins. Load back up, drive home, get all the gear unloaded and now begin to mix gas for the next day. Expeditions are never over when you are done diving. In some cases they are only beginning. As I said before, logistics are one of the biggest challenges any expedition faces. Master them and you might be successful, ignore them and you are guaranteed to fail.
Several hours later the gas is mixed, the gear is prepped and then we get to eat. Of course, now the real planning begins. What to do next? Got to be systematic about it. Well, if the issue were finding the other cenote on land, the easiest way would be to swim there underwater and make lots of noise to help the surface team find it. Sounds like a good idea. GPS talking the same language as the coordinates, we are set for the morning.
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