Sunday, October 15, 2006

WE ARE FAMOUS!!!!!

Well we are good at keeping secrets but the word is out nationally about our services, our cenote secrets and the fact that Dave actually does dive.

On October 10, 2006 in the Canadian National newspaper, The Globe and Mail www.globeand mail.ca, Cenote Dive Center and its staff were highlighted in an article called 'Subterrean Scuba'. For those who do not know the Globe, as us Canucks like to call it, it is comparible to the New York Times for those Americans, the London Times for the Brits and for any other European Countries, I dont think i can tell you a comparison....we are generally on a media blackout most of the time so we are not well versed in European newspapers.

Darryl Leniuk, is a Canadian reporter that contacted us in January 2006 and requested that we work with him to do an article on the Cenotes. By March 2006, Darryl arrived and spent a week with the employees of Cenote Dive Center. Under Dave's direction, Darryl joined our divers in the discovery of the underworld located here in Tulum. Like all divers, Darryl was taken with awe and continued to see more and more of what we call our home.

The article is on line at www.globeandmail.ca and is in the Travel section on October 10, 2006. Once we receive a hard copy and we know that could takes months here in Mexico, we will scan in the true copy with photos and let everyone see. Dave was our model and I think had a great time doing the photo shoot with Darryl....

We wish to thank Darryl for his efforts and Dave would like to thank all the employees for taking care of Darryl while he stayed here in Tulum. Though we try to keep our work a secret, or at least just a special thing for our visitors, the word is out. Cenotes rock and so do the employees at Cenote Dive Center.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tulum at a Glance

We have received some comments that Tulum is a challenge to navigate for the first time visitor. I have to admit, over 7 years ago when I first arrived, I had no idea that the town of Tulum had so much to offer. Publications talk aobut the inherent diversity of the Town of Tulum but it seems, after some searching, that there is no comprehensive explanation of what Tulum actually is or how to navigate it easily. There seems to be confusion over the Tulum Ruins, being earmarked as the Town of Tulum and after you visit the Ruins, well that would be it. This assumption or should we say bit of knowledge would by our standards, leave people scratching thier heads after reading that Tulum has a lot to offer. We have witnessed this confusion many times and have decided to talk about Tulum as the city it is, not the city people think it is.

So let us be the first to clear up the Mystery. There is no Mystery by the way, it is only writers who dont understand the lingo we use down here...lets call it Tulum Talk...and I am now going to cast some light on this mysterious town we call Tulum.

Tulum is a pueblo (town) that has three areas of interest. There is the Town Center or what we refer to it as the Pueblo. The hightlights in the pueblo are stores, great restaurants and any services, though limited, that local shop keepers provide to the public and local residents. There are full electricity services and hence internet cafes. This area stretches along the main highway as you enter the town. It is defined by the first roundabout at the crossroads after the beach road and AFTER our only chain grocery store, Super San Fransisco. The town is where a majority of residents live. There are concrete homes, and palapas that line the back streets of the main Tulum Avenue. Though Tulum Avenue is littered with international restaurants, there are many small taco stands and eateries thatt are run in the evenings by the residents of Tulum. If you are looking for a great authentic Mayan or Mexican dish, this is where you need to venture.

Now the other two areas, and this is where people get confused, are the Tulum Beach or the Beach Road and then the infamous Tulum Ruins. Lets talk about the Beach Road first.

Now the Tulum Beach road can be excessed by turning left at the Super San Fransisco. If you go right you will be heading to Coba, though not a bad choice, but if you want to continue to explore Tulum, or in this case the Tulm Beach, head left. This road will take you to a t-junction where you can go either north about 4 km or south about 45 kilometers and end up in another obscure town called Punta Allen. Hotels are located all along the road to the north and south, all beach side and with varying prices. There is no rhyme or reason..it just is. A 500 USD per night hotel can be beside a 10 USD night hotel. All co-exist happily and all give a variety of options to travellers and visitors. Hence the confusion. Electricity does not filter to the beach so all the hotels run on generators. The road is dark at night and if you choose a hotel to the south you could be far from amenities. We do recommend rental cars if you want to explore and have flexibility. There is no public transport down the each rode so you are at the mercy of the taxi drivers and their prices....we do have to say the further south you go the more prestine and exclusive the beach becomes....it is precious the further south you go and the beach stretchs for miles....but be prepared for a lack of services...seclusion is what you get here, fashion and chic is also the trend and prices can get high.

Finally we have the infamous Tulum Ruins. The Ruins, a recommended stop for those who wish to experience a Mayan Ruin and in this case the only Mayan Ruin on the ocean, so that they can understand in a different way how Tulum began. The Ruins are at the far north of Tulum. If you are travelling from Playa Del Carmen it is the first sign of civilization as you pass Akumal. There are three hotels at this crossroad and they all have parking and restaurants for visitors. Our sister dive Center, the Abyss, is located at this cross road and can answer any questions you may have including the location of Cenote Dive Center in the Town of Tulum. if you park here then you have a small walk to the Ruins of a measely 800 meters...

So here is our first introduction to what we know, as locals, as the town of Tulum. It is bigger, more involved then just the Tulum Ruins. If we were Mayans, comoing here over 10,000 years ago, yes, the Ruins would have been the Town of Tulum, but the town has evovled since then and there is more to it then what most talk about...hence why we love it so much...

Questions can be answered at our emial. We will try and assist in defusing any myths or recommmending hotels for those who are visiting for the first time or those who want a different experience on their third or fourth visit. info@cenotedive.com and within 24 hours we will provide you with the information you need...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

SNORKEL TRIPS IN THE CENOTES

So I don't think we have discussed one of our specialties here at Cenote Dive Center. With the addition of Jorge and Rosso, we are delivering to non-divers (they are people too) trips to the Cenotes through snorkelling.

These trips run each day at 8 45 am and are longer than most other trips offered by other tour groups. Not to mention the fesh pastries, coffee in the morning and stellar, I mean stellar guides who love showing people the wonders of the area.

When deciding to make these excursions, the guys had some specific requests when we were in the planning process. One, they wanted to make sure that they were the first people at the cenotes, which are either Dos Ojos, Gran, or Casa, and wanted a longer trip so that they could show all the treasures they know. Also, snacks were a must and they give you a good work out and they did not want people to starve. And thirdly they wanted great snorkel masks so that people could enjoy their trip. All of their wishes were granted and they have put together a wonderful expereince for all visitors.

The tours are about 3.5 hours. If you are nice to them, they may stay a bit longer and make a great excuse as to whey they are back late...this seems to happen quite often so we think that they are easily swayed. Each person will get snorkeling equipment, coffee when you arrive in the dive center, the car ride tot he cenotes of choice that day, your knowledgable guide, fresh pastries and entrance fees paid. Now how is that for an ALL INCLUSIVE TRIP!

It is best to come to see us, or email us at info@cenotedive.com, at least a day in advance to make a reservation. Spots are limited (another request of the guys) so we dont want you to be dissappointed.

Check it out and see what you think. No one has been disappointed yet and we doubt that anyone will....there are lots of pictures on the website so see what you are getting yourself into...most will say the best trip of your life!

Friday, May 12, 2006

EMPLOYEE UPDATE

Whewwww..we have a bit of breather....it has been a great year and we have failed to let you know about our new employees....not very nice of us as we like you to know who you are going to be bumping into at the dive center.

So, there are two new sales assistants and snorkel guides that joined us at Cenote Dive Center. Rosso and Jorge, both local residents of Tulum, joined our team in February in hopes to learn more about the dive industry and further their passion for diving.

Jorge is a chef, who while working in Tulum, fell in love with the cavern system. Orignally from Puebla, Mexico, he has lived in Tulum for over 20 years and pursued his love of cooking and welcoming visitors to the area. In his spare time, he pursued recreational dive certifications and ended up in the caverns...every day off he had. His passion for cavern diving is contagious which has fuelled his decision to put professional cooking aside and start his pursuit of technical and cave certification. His passion led him to us and we thank the gods for his dedication to the business, our customers and his desire to become a cavern guide in the area.

Rosso has also been a cook for many years and came upon the dive center while working at Hotel El Crucero where our sister dive center, The Abyss Dive Center and Training Facility, is located in Tulum. His curiosity had him snooping around while he was not cooking, and he also decided to make the leap into a new industry. With support of his family, he is now obtaining his recreational dive certifications and spreading his love for the ocean and caverns as a snorkel guide. What we did discover is that Rosso is a brilliant mechanic. No more does Nicola have to climb under the cars alone, she is joined by a well informed mechanic who is teaching her how to say each car part in Spanish....he also is able to now fix any regulator or dive equipment problem that you can think of. We have not been able to give Rosso a mechanical issue that he can not find a solution to....

So from us to you, please meet our two new star employees who will welcome you with a smile, tons of information about diving and the area, and an enthusiasm that you can not ignore. There is not anything they will not try and help you with and they know almost everything about the area...Gracias Dios! This can only make your vacation better and more informed so that you walk away feeling enlightened...and part of the Tulum community.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

TWO MORE CAVERN DIVERS YIPEEE!!!!

Well, two lovely young women from England decided to take the plunge last week, not as open water divers but as IANTD Cavern Students with Instructor Marco...and they received their cards last night!!! Hooray for Ruth and Elli who worked very hard on thier 2 day course for cavern certification.

Ruth and Elli were not expecting, like Huw and Allison, to engage in a Cavern Course while on vacation. But the dreams of beer and sun dissipated after their first cavern tour upon their arrival in Tulum. Like many, they were hooked and wanted to learn more...

Now the cavern course can be done in single tanks, but with much discussion as to their future goals, it was decided by all to do the course in doubles so they could begin their equipment transfer from single tanks, BCDs and a single reg to the cave configuration of twins, two regs, backplate and wings....though they were forewarned about the challenge of re-learning buoyancy in this new configuration, the girls were up for it and ready....

They were stars! They struggled, yes, but they got it. And with smiles after a few days diving after the course, they realized thier accomplishment...well done!

Well, another TWO bite the dust and we have Ruth and Elli hopefully returning for thier full cave on their next vacation....go home and show the Dive Club in England your card...you earned it!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Girls went shopping....

THE GIRLS WENT SHOPPING

Strange title for a cave/cavern specialty dive center…really who cares if the girls went shopping…but if you listen up you will see the relevance and lesson in this metaphor…and it is brilliant!

So, lets back up a bit….Wilma came…we have not kept you up to date…customers have come and gone…we have been diving….come December things got busy and we had two British travelers show up on their bikes looking to dive in the cenotes…we delivered the goods and they fell in love with the caverns…they decided to do their cave course over Christmas and stayed with us for a while.

Now if you don’t know the cave course, it is tough…probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding courses you will ever take…As facilitators of the course, we move with our students through their successes and challenges. This is the part that we love. The metamorphosis that takes place during the 7 day course in ones attitude and ones diving is really a sight. Huw and Allison were no exception to this rule…

Both students were divemasters and under the expertise and care of Instructor Bill Philips, both started the transition from open water diver to cave diver…they found it tough but came everyday to learn one more thing from Bill. At one point, Allison become frustrated with her inability to master her trim, one of the most important skills in the course to secure yourself in this delicate environment…

So a solution had to be found….and what a solution there was…this issue was a chick thing…for those guys who don’t understand, women learn sometimes differently then men…the guys did not quite get it when we sat around and discussed Allison’s issue…the girls could only build one metaphor that would solidify our thoughts and solutions for Allison….the girls needed to go shopping….

Okay what does this mean…what are you on about….shopping is not going to build a good trim and really will not build trim for the caves….metaphor, remember metaphor…translation, chick bonding time in the caves…

So we stopped the course for two days and set Allison up with Nadia, another chick cave diver/guide/explorer, to go and play….the intent was to give Allison another girl to play with underwater in a chick sort of way…the strategy turned out to be the right answer…the girls went to Dos Ojos in the cavern zone and Nadia checked out Allison’s trim…making the signal to surface, Nadia, in her beautifully straight forward, no nonsense attitude said to Allison ‘ What’s with your frog kick’ and proceeded to show her exactly how to do it….in chick translation…result…a star was born, the girls played and Allison successfully finished the course with flying colors.

This breakthrough was great and a lesson for all of us. Cave diving is thought not necessarily to be a sport for women. Our proof is that it is…any women can achieve their cave diver status and should not be intimated to do so…yes, this has been a male dominated sport and portrayed as such but with examples like Allison or the infamous cave instructor Kate Lewis, who has certified hundreds of women and men as cave divers…we have hope to make this a non-gender sport…sometimes we just have to remember that the girls need to go shopping…or just take a day or two to get it….

With the right credentials, the right motivation and desire, no one can be stopped from becoming a cave diver…if there is a will, there is a way….young or old, male or female, Cenote Dive Center is dedicated to assist you through your cave course and find solutions to any challenges you may have along the way…Congratulations Allison and Huw on your recent accomplishment!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

EMILY, WHO IS EMILY

As you may have heard, Tulum was scheduled for a direct hit with the latest hurricane that was swirling around in the Carribean. After packing up and securing for the Category 4 hurricane, which was early by the way, July is not a scheduled hurricane month in these parts, we all braced for a long and tiring night.

The surprise, we missed it. Little damage was left in Tulum, and we came out completely unscathed. The dive center is fine, we opened doors the very next business day and went back diving.

But how did we come out unscathed. Even the American television stations who ignore hurricane threats to Mexico, reported that Tulum was scheduled for the hit. Thank a high pressure system from the North which, picked up Emily and had her land just to the north in Puerto Adventuras. We are not happy that Emily landed, nor are we happy for our friends that live in this area to the North. Schools were damaged, palapas/homes were destroyed and the vegetation in the area was ruined. Jungle grows back but lives are a little bit harder to re-build. We have done everything we can to assist friends who have been touched by the storm, and things seem to be getting back to normal for people and businesses in Puerto.

We have surveyed the cenotes and they are fine. Though tired from the clean up, everything is business as usual. Andy is back to snorkel tours and Roman is kicking butt with his diving. He is even able to sneak in some pleasure exploration. We are not even sure who Emily is anymore.