Category: Cave diving

Enter the Light

Enter the Light

_tsl8194Can’t recall ever having as much fun diving as I did the past four days. I was thinking….so many dives….over 600 in the past 15 years….but these last ones have been off-the-scale fun. Why is that?

_tsl8205I’ve done cave and cavern dives many times, have been to beautiful ocean destinations…what’s different this time?

_tsl8199Perhaps it was having the opportunity to be with one other person, a fantastic guide, and experience the freedom to play in the water–taking time with light beams or formations of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Nobody rushed me or pushed me to move if I was engrossed with something that captured my attention.

Before we began our diving, I told *Daniel that my goal was to have fun and take photographs. I wasn’t interested in anything else. Play was my objective.

More than once while diving I noted how fun it was to be underwater, underground and have my camera kit with me. Not a passing thought but a real fire of playfulness within that ignited passion for the work I do.

_tsl8196The mornings were filled with clear water, diving into cenotes filled with magical formations and ‘working’ to capture their beauty through the art of photography. The afternoons were filled with processing images and realizing that I was indeed capturing the beauty I so deeply love and appreciate. It was a celebratory atmosphere!

_tsl8311There were no distractions. It was me and the sea whispering sweet sounds as I worked and celebrated the success of my endeavors. I’m an ardent perfectionist but even that part of my personality was deeply pleased with my efforts. Did hell just freeze over?

Connecting with the beauty of nature is why I get up in the morning. Through the arts of writing and photography I find the expressive pathway to share the magnificence of nature….of our water planet. The way I decide where to go is to simply listen with my heart. It always guides me true.

_tsl8212My heart always guides me to enter the light.

*Daniel Ortega Moran is based in Tulum, Mexico and is a wonderful person and dive guide. He’s a cave instructor as well…if you’re interested in learning more about diving underground.

Dos Ojos…The Eyes Have It

Dos Ojos…The Eyes Have It

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It’s four o’clock in the afternoon. We finished diving in Cenote Dos Ojos at 10 a.m. and I’m still in my bathing suit. The dives were fantastic and processing the photographs taken on the dives has been fun, too. Just finished working with the images and loading a bunch to Facebook and realized…oops….still have on board shorts and bathing suit.

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When I lose track of time and get consumed with something, it’s good. Really good. My mind likes to be challenged, it likes to have a job to do. So composing underwater photographs in cenotes this week has brought a lot of joy…mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. All the good stuff.

_tsl7918Daniel Ortega Moran, the guide I hired, has been very keen on timing and places. Yesterday we had Cenote Dream Gate to ourselves. It was far back in the jungle and pristine in its beauty. Oh, my goodness! As beautiful a place topside as it was underground underwater. The energies of the Mother were so powerful there.

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_tsl7864Today we arrived at Dos Ojos early. It’s a very well-known and popular place for snorkelers and open water divers. We had the place to ourselves on the first dive and only passed three other people on the way out. By the time we exited, there were so many divers we had to wait a while to access the steps. There were kids and people jumping off the platform….it was a zoo. But….because of his good timing, we had two incredible dives. Plus, Daniel chose that place today because it was the first day of sunshine and the light coming through the cenote opening created stunning visual effects beneath the surface.

_tsl7986One more day left….and I feel sad to leave but have had such an amazing experience reconnecting with the sacred energies here. It’s coming home to a greater dimension of life I haven’t experienced in many years. It’s reclaiming a part of myself I had lost.

_tsl8007This time I came equipped with more tools…more cave training, a wonderful camera system for underwater photography and a heart and mind more open and vulnerable, willing to leap with courage to whatever places I feel ‘called’ to visit, connect with, and share the stories from with anyone willing to listen.

_tsl7956A couple weeks ago I put the question out there…”Where?” The answer came strong and action to book the trip was immediate. Now I understand….this place called me to re-discover my passion and fire for my life’s work. And I am deeply grateful.

_tsl7865Dos Ojos…Two Eyes. I see and understand….with my own dos ojos.

 

Dream Gate

Dream Gate

_tsl7771The gently rolling waves put me into a trance and I find it difficult to come back to waking consciousness. But rather than roam the reefs of the sea, I float–in my half-sleeping state–among formations of Mother Earth that defy description. In reality, I was there only hours ago hovering weightless in water so clear it was as if I was flying through a dry cave filled with magical earthen structures.

_tsl7776It was a new cave for me, one never-before-visited during five or six weeks of cave diving I’ve done here in Akumal, Mexico. It was pristine with no noticeable damage from ill-timed fin movement. The only ‘damage’ I saw was where someone stood up and left an imprint of fins beside a lacy rock.

_tsl7799During both dives I found myself laughing joyfully at the outrageous beauty, shaking my head in wonder and immersing myself completely in the experience. Nothing else existed in those moments of geological excursion.

_tsl7747When I’m diving in caves such as these it changes me. I find myself moving deeper and deeper through time and space until I meet some other me that might have walked in wonder in the caves when they were dry, among these embodiments of ever-so-slow drippings of mineral-laden water, the artistry of time and gravity.

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Eating Cookies, Looking for Crocodiles

Eating Cookies, Looking for Crocodiles

_tsl7253The title is no joke. That’s exactly what was happening in my world this morning before diving at Cenote Carwash. Except I wasn’t eating the cookies….but I was quite interested in the crocodile. For more than one reason.

_tsl7274It’s been years since I’ve been cenote diving in Akumal, Mexico. After participating with Connie LoRe’s Cave Dive Mexico for several trips, there has been a break of six or seven years…or maybe more.

_TSL5656My attention in diving has turned to working with my Nikon D800 in an Aquatica housing. I’ve had great joy photographing dolphins, whale sharks, humpback whales, sea lions, manatees and other marine creatures and have enjoyed every second of it.

I was looking for an autumn trip and nothing worked out with the destinations I was considering….Bonaire, Baja. Nothing. The idea of a trip was released and up went the hands one morning, “I give up. If there’s a trip…show me!” Within a couple hours the idea of returning to Akumal surfaced. And before day’s end, it was booked.

_tsl7324It’s the first time I’ve been in an overhead environment with my big camera rig. That’s why I chose to cavern dive in open water gear rather than cave dive. Task loading in diving happens when you add elements to a dive….overhead environment, big camera kit and I’m still relatively new to sidemount cave diving having switched from back mount a couple years ago. Just didn’t want to mix all of that up.

_tsl7319Daniel Ortega Moran is the guide Connie picked for me and I understand why after diving with him today. He’s a cave instructor, cave guide and has a warm, inviting personality. It made for a wonderful day and by the second dive, I was beginning to get the lighting right with my strobes and the hand-held HID cave light I use.

_tsl7432Granted, there was use of Lightroom’s magic in adjusting the lighting during processing but that’s the digital darkroom these days. And those skills are just as important as neutral buoyancy and untangling your regulator hose when it gets tangled in the strobe cord.  Just sayin.’

_tsl7463It’s thundering off shore as I sit and gaze out into the choppy ocean. Excited about three more days of fun diving and playing with the formations, lighting, and camera settings. And of course being under water underground.

_tsl7231A sea turtle nest hatched right beside the patio here last night but sadly a raccoon or similar creature and his buddy ate the babies. No tracks made it to the water. And yes, I am here unwinding from a very eventful sea turtle season in Alabama and thought I’d come here and let all of that go for a few days. But no.

_tsl7483The lesson of the day is this: You cannot escape what you love. Sea turtles and cenote diving in Akumal are just two of those ‘things.’ There are more for certain.

When’s the last time you ate cookies while looking for crocodiles? Hmmmm? That’s exactly what I suspected.

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Thank you Daniel for enduring the strobe flashes and letting me practice lighting techniques on you. Your patience is infinite.

 

 

Within The Earth

Within The Earth

Cave entrance, Akumal, Mexico...coming again in October!
Cave entrance, Akumal, Mexico…coming again in October!

Weightless in clear, fresh water within the Earth is where I found myself this afternoon. I feel so grounded and joyful. And clear…really clear. I close my eyes are see arched limestone and layers of rippled sand in my mind. My body remembers the feeling of being weightless within the Earth. I feel changed, baptized in peace and grateful.

I also feel happy and excited to have the next trip on my calendar. Ready to celebrate this shared-love of cave diving with friends soon. But for now….I shall dream dreams of gliding weightless within the Earth. And I shall smile in my sleep.

Stalactite formations in a Mexico underwater cave.
Stalactite formations in a Mexico underwater cave.

Note: Florida caves are formed by underwater rivers or aquifers. Caves in Mexico were once dry caves and so they have gorgeous formations within them. Then…long ago…they flooded. So now, those of us lucky enough to dive them, float weightless through magical spires and columns of beauty that is almost unimaginable.