The guys, the sea, and me……..

IMG_0011As an expat now living on the island of Cozumel I never tire of sharing my good experiences.  And, as many of you know, there have been many.  Today, for example, I got to spend a morning on the ocean with a group of guys who love the water even more than me.  In other words, they take their passion for the sea to depths I can only imagine since, so far, I have remained topside.  But, that didn’t stop them from inviting me along and I’m so glad they did.  But, before I go into the details, let me give you a little history.

This experience actually started close to a year ago.  I’ve been sharing my day to day events through this blog and one of my readers, Dan, had been nice enough to comment on a few.  This started a dialogue and we became friends, of a sort, through our words since we both share a love of this island.  Then, about a month ago, he dropped me a line to say that he, along with family and friends,  would be visiting in June and suggested we get together.  Sounded like a good idea to me and today was the day.  The fact that they dive, and I don’t, wasn’t a problem and, besides,  far be it from me to say “no” to a day on the water.  The bag was packed, the dogs were fed and I sat outside my apartment sipping some coffee until their car pulled up.

What a nice group of guys!  Dan and his son, Tim, had been joined on their week-long trip to the island by Jay and his son, Edward.  Two old friends and their boys, which could’ve caused me to feel like an outsider, but that wasn’t the case.  Within minutes we were the makumbaheading to the marina chatting like we’d known each other for years.  I just love when that happens.  Then, as we were driving down Melgar,  Dan explained that we’d be spending the morning on a boat called The Makumba, and diving with Pancho Diving Adventures with Pancho himself and his assistant, Julio.   In fact, I was told they were diving all week with the same crew.  We got into a conversation about why they had such loyalty to Pancho and, as it turned out, they’d all become friends both on the ocean and off due to such good experiences over the years.

jay, tim, panchoOnce on the boat we headed out to the open water and then ran south.  Although it was a cloudy day the water was still that lovely turquoise shade we have down here.  As we were going along we continued to talk as if we were all old friends, which was quite pleasant.  At some point I found out that it was to be Edward’s first open water dive after his certification.  I asked him if he was nervous, but he just shrugged his shoulders and assured me he was looking forward to the experience.  I made a mental note to take a couple of extra shots of him so he’d have a chronicle of the event.  In fact, on the left you can see just a peek of him with his dad, Jay, along with Tim all talking with Pancho about the upcoming dive location.  A better shot will come later.

Soon we got to their first spot, the Palancar Reef.  Pancho spent some time explaining the details of the dive, much of which I didn’t really understand, and then they suited up and over they went.  Julio stayed up top withjulio me and watched for their bubbles so he’d know their location.  Meanwhile, I spent about twenty minutes trying to spot the bubbles myself with absolutely no luck.  I finally gave up and asked him to show me and, with a grin, he pointed.  To be honest, I still didn’t see them and am just happy that watching out for the guys wasn’t my job. But, to feel like I was doing something I asked him to pose.  That’s him in the pic on the right.

After that I thought it might be nice to take a quick dip.  The water was a bit choppy, but warm, and I had edwardfun just paddling alongside the boat.  Then, soon after I got back on board, Edward was back and, after Julio helped him with his equipment, I was able to grab a shot.  I’m thinking, from the looks of his smile, that his first official dive was a success.  Then we got to spend some time talking and I found out that we shared a love of all that is the theatre and film.  It made for some fun conversation while we waited for the others.

Within half an hour the rest were back and they all got busy talking about what they’d seen.  This is where I’llIMG_0144 include another underwater shot just to help with the mood, but they were, obviously, not taken by me.  Dan was nice enough to let me download some shots he’d taken so I could include them.  I have to admit, when I see the beauty of the underside I get tempted to take up the sport.  I wouldn’t be surprised if, one of these days, I’ll be announcing that I’m getting certified.  The more time I spend here the more I realize that I may not be enjoying one of the real perks of living on this island.  But, that’s a thought for another day.

danDan (that’s him on the left) started to show me his camera and how easily it could be used.  He mentioned that he would leave it topside for the next location if I wanted to try it out.  But, after I gave it some thought, I knew that I wouldn’t want to risk it.  I don’t know about him, but my camera is another appendage at this point and I’d hate to dopancho something stupid, which I’ve been known to do from time to time.  Then, while we were talking, I noticed that Pancho was sitting in some good light.  The sun was so intermittent that I couldn’t pass up the chance.  You can see that shot on your right.  I assured him it was my “beefcake” shot of the day.  I’m not sure he understood, but he just grinned some more.

After some fresh cantaloupe and mango, along with icy cold water, was handed around we headed off to their next location, Chankanaab.  As we sped along I noticed that we were not alone.  In fact, there were probably a dozen, or more, boats in our general area.  I asked them if they’d seen any other divers while below and they alldan in water told me they had.  But, it’s a big ocean and they seemed happy to share the experience.  In another ten minutes, or so, we’d arrived at Chankanaab and they all suited up again.  Their enthusiasm was contagious.  Pancho, once again, talked to them about the details of the dive and, in a flash, over the side they went.

the neighborsSoon after they’d disappeared I watched as a rather large boat started to get fairly close.  Of course I grabbed my camera and, I’m happy to say, as they passed us by they struck a pose.   There are some friendly folks down here, which helps make my “job” easier.  But, once they were gone, it got so quiet that all I could hear was the water lapping against the side of the boat.   Although Julio and I had been talking quite a bit, at that point neither one of us said a word.  I think we were both just enjoying the serenity.  But, as the sun peeked out, it was getting time to take another dip while waiting for the guys.  So, over the side I went.

Fairly soon after I’d climbed back on board the others starting popping back up.  And, once again, gear wastim's handstand handed up, towels came out, and everyone started comparing notes.  This went on for a while and then, suddenly, Tim decided to practice some of his gymnastic skills.  I’d heard he’d been quite the champ in his high school days so I wasn’t surprised when he easily did a flip off of the boat.  Unfortunately, my skills with a camera aren’t quite at the same level.  Still, I was able to catch the last half second before he was fully submerged.   Applause and laughter was all around and then it was time to head back to the marina.  It had been a good day.

Once we were all back in the car Dan extended an invitation for me to join his group for dinner on Thursday night.  I happily accepted and, soon after that, I was climbing the stairs to my apartment.  As always, the sun and sea had done their thing and I was ready to take a nap.  The knowledge that I had nothing more pressing to do just made me smile.  Yes, life on this island is a good thing and all the better when new friends have been made.  Thanks guys.    Salud!

IMG_0033

p.s.  all underwater shots by Dan Burns…………..and, I don’t intend to promote, and never receive compensation, but I was a guest of a gracious host ( have to stay honest ) 🙂

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Valli
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 01:53:42

    Your vivid descriptions had me right there on that boat sitting next to you. Love that you are always experiencing new “horizons.” I know that feeling of serenity – happens to me when I am gazing at that gorgeous ocean. Thanks for posting about another excellent adventure.

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 02:07:27

      Thanks, Valli, it truly was a lovely day out there, and it is so serene…………even if there was a boat, or three, good to see you and thanks for reading (and for being so supportive, big smile)

      Reply

  2. bontiapistone
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 02:11:19

    again celia, another nice read 🙂

    Reply

  3. Joey
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 03:03:02

    I always enjoy reading your blog Celia, I love looking at this island through your eyes since we all have our own perception. Great job always!!

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 03:14:40

      thanks, Joey, nice of you to say……….and, yes, we do have different perspectives, but that’s often a good thing, never gets boring that way 😉 Thanks for reading.

      Reply

  4. Andrea Boudreau-Barskiy
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 04:47:36

    Awesome post as always. I’ve wanted to dive since I’ve been little, and dreamed of the Caribbean sea for doing so for years. and when I arrived in Cancun I told myself, “well, this is it, you’re here and you’ll be able to finally fulfill your dreams.” Ok, it’s been over a year and I still haven’t taken my first diving lesson but reading your post and looking at Dan’s pictures (oh, please thank him from us for supplying such beautiful pictures) it relights my desire to doing so. Thank you for sharing all your diverse experiences with us. It’s always a pleasure to read. Hugs!

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 04:52:23

      thanks, Andrea, and, it does look tempting doesn’t it? I’ve been hesitant for a few reasons, one of which is due to my love of photography, if you can believe that. I tend to forget what I’m doing, or where I’m at trying to get a shot. Thinking that wouldn’t be a good thing, but it just looks so serene, might have to rethink it. Always good to see you, thanks for reading.

      Reply

  5. Tina
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 09:40:51

    Thanks again for a great read. I am actually going to meet up with DanB 7pm Friday night when we get to Coz He is a wonderful man that helped me acquire the perfect gift for a local in Coz. He suggested I check out your most recent post and so glad I did, now I will know what Dan looks like when we meet him at Wet Wendys tomorrow night to thank him. Stop by if you are around. Tina ( I was one of the people that asked about your thoughts on Boston tragedy) Keep up the wonderful work!

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 10:25:45

      Hi Tina, We are in agreement about Dan, super nice guy. Glad to hear you are all getting together, that should be fun, especially at WW. (And, no pic of Dan needed, just look for the guy with a big ole grin). Not sure I can stop by, but do appreciate the invitation. Have fun, and thanks for reading!

      Reply

  6. Bill Manship
    Jun 22, 2013 @ 08:43:05

    Glad to see the good comments about Pancho as a person & his diving business. Have known Pancho for almost 20 yrs. Each time I dove with him he helped me increase my diving ability & never once did he exceed my ability. We have not been able to return to Coz’ since 2009 due to my hip & knee problems + taking care of a family member with a terminal illness. We hope to return in 2014 & dive at least one more time w/Pancho. Anyone who can give a shout out for Pancho & his business will surely be appreciated.

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Jun 22, 2013 @ 14:03:45

      Nice of you to share your good experience with Pancho as well. I’m hoping he takes another peek at this so he can see the nice comments folks have made. Sorry to hear of your hip & knee problems, here’s hoping you can return to Coz (and diving) soon! Thanks for reading.

      Reply

  7. Barry Crowe
    Jun 22, 2013 @ 09:02:56

    Ah, Cozumel! My favorite place on earth.

    Pancho, we have been diving with him for years. Whether we Come down and stay for a week or come in on a ship, we dive with him exclusively as we have done for many years.

    Wonderful story and enjoyed the read

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Jun 22, 2013 @ 14:00:24

      So glad to hear that. Was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with he and his family over dinner as well, really lovely folks. I may not dive, but I can understand the reason folks are so loyal. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  8. Bill
    Jun 24, 2013 @ 09:11:03

    Love your blog of your experience w/Pancho,Julio, etal. Pancho is a long time friend & I have not seen him since 2009 due physical problems of my own & the terminal illness of a close family member. We had given serious thought to moving to Cozumel until the US economy hit the resale of our medium income house so bad we could not sell & get funds to get a place we would be comfortable with. I am 72 now & it is getting harder to leave all the time. We just hope to return & visit our friends one more time.

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Jun 24, 2013 @ 09:38:13

      Hopefully you can come and visit more times than just once. I will be writing a small series this summer about neighborhood inns, B&Bs etc. Very affordable options, maybe you and yours will see one that could make a trip more likely! And, Pancho is such a nice man, glad to hear from others who’ve also had a nice experience too…..thanks for reading!

      Reply

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