Scuba Diving (I´m Not Great At Original Titles...)

Trip Start Feb 10, 2008
Trip End Aug 06, 2008

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Friday, February 29, 2008

Buenas tardes seņores y seņoritas. So, I mentioned that I had left Merida and my travelling companions behind, and had returned to Playa Del Carmen. I stayed in the same hostel as last time which, although really cramped, is close to the beach and has really big lockers. During my initial stay here everyone in the dorm had kept quite distant from each other, and in fact the only person I actually met was Kane the Aussie. This time though it was a completely different story, and for 3 nights in a row pretty much everyone in the hostel both went out in the evening together and hung out in the day together. In fact by the time I left, the whole thing was a bit like a soap opera, with group politics, accusations of theft, 3-day relationships, and Harold Bishop. Okay so the last one was a lie. But here are a few samples of the real cast:
John - a Londoner in his late 20s who looked like a mix between Mike Myers and Gwyneth Palthrow (and possibly a weasel), and who I initially didnīt like but then realised was a really nice guy; Jorge - a 52 year old Mexican whose life ambition seemed to be to take a photo of himself with every girl in every bar in town, and who we all thought was actually called Jose until yesterday; Joaquin - a rotund mulleted vagabond, who had recently been (understandably) sacked for punching his boss in the face, and who could constantly be seen eating, drinking and going on the internet, despite literally having no money; Tomas - The Swede with a nose even more red than mine, who could normally be found drinking rum / sleeping in bars / stumbling around smiling and attempting (unsuccessfully) to form sentences; Agostina - A 26 year old graphic designer from Argentina who I became close with for a few days; Paulina - a hot and really nice Mexican who reminded me of someone, though Iīm not sure who (can anyone help me out?); Steven - A French Canadian retiree who was travelling with his 14 year old daughter, and who gave me some advice on real estate; Plus a load more Mexicans, a few more Argentinians, a couple more French Canadians, and another Brit.
So I told you last time that I had a temporary Mexican sidekick - this was Joaquin, and I wasnīt the only one who was being followed by him against my will. Although he was a nice guy, he got a bit annoying after a few minutes, not least because he was always really drunk and always scrounging money off people. And he had a mullet. So after a few days people were literally changing and catering their plans to avoid him... a little harsh, but canīt blame them. A load of things were also going missing in the hostel (Ipods, phones, passports etc), and the poor bum was getting the blame from a lot of people. I donīt think he did it, but whatever.
So basically the days were spent waking up late, wandering around doing nothing in particular, then going on to the hostel roof terrace to play cards and have a few beers, then going out to a bar and having a few more. I learned a new Argentinian card game called "Chancho", which involves everyone simultaneously passing one card to the next person in the circle and going "Chanchooooooooo va!"(literally "Poooooooooork go! - donīt ask, I have no idea), at which point everyone picks up their new card. Once someone gets 4 of a kind they slam their hand down on the hotel and say "Chancho", and the last person to follow suit loses..... and is gay I guess. You can also do a fake chancho, whereby if anyone follows suit they are homosexual etc. I have no idea why I am describing this game in such detail; it could be because I have no idea what Iīm going to do for the rest of the day, but more on that later. So although the game made me feel about 3 years old, it was fun.
After a few days in Playa the drink-sleep-do nothing-drink cycle was beginning to get to me mentally and physically. But I had had a really good few days, and was ready and excited to go to Cozumel to do my diving. So after a number of farewells, I arrived here on the island yesterday afternoon. Cozumel is apparently one of the best places in the world to go diving, which is lucky because it doesnīt have much else going for it. It is one of the stops on the local cruise ships, so basically consists of 90% fat Americans, 8% crappy souvenir shops, 1% dive centres, and 1% Snakebeans. But I am kind of looking forward to a few days of peace and relaxation, and of course the diving (which Iīll get to in a second). The hostel Iīm staying at is also super nice - clean, spacious, and cheap. It also has nice bathrooms, and whatīs more it has hot water! So this morning I was really looking forward to my first hot shower of the trip, but unfortunately things proved to be less simple than I had hoped. Because despite the fact that there are just two taps, I canīt work out which is the hot and which is the cold, and thus I canīt get the water to stay at any temperature between scaldingly hot and freezing cold. Now I wish I was intelligent enough to solve this shower-based riddle, but as of yet I appear not to be, and so have twice spent 20 minutes cowering in the corner and tutting whilst splashing my body with water that alternates between ice cold and lava hot. In my defence Iīm pretty certain that the taps switch roles every couple of minutes (like these keyboard keys), and Iīve been half expecting to see the shower curtain burst open and to discover that Iīm on some live Mexican TV show in all my glory / shame (depending on the water temperature at the time).
Anyway, the diving. Iīm doing my open water course, which is the most basic qualification. I have this book to read in the evenings, and then the following day I watch a video and then go and do a practical session with my instructor, Jordan. Today was my first of these days, and I was joined by a Japanese student called Hirotomo who cracked me up, though I canīt say why. Okay I will try - when he listens to someone speaking he stands with his legs dead straight and his body bent forward at a 60 degree angle, but when he talks he stands with his back arched backward slightly and his legs really bent (imagine Father Christmas, or some other fat jolly man, laughing). And he laughs at everything, like a small girl. Anywho, he was really nice, as was Jordan. Without going into the technical details of the lesson, we finished off with a little dive by the beach, during which we descended to about 20 feet. Even though it was really basic I loved it - the feeling of just breathing and floating around underwater is awesome, and I didnīt have any problems with my ears or when you have to remove your breathing thing (forgot the name already) and use your buddyīs spare one.
So over the next 2 days this will continue, until I am qualified and able to do more exciting dives. I really want to do the "Blue Hole" in Belize, where you go quite deep and then swim underneath coral with sharks etc. Sounds cool.
After Cozumel Iīm going to go back to Playa again and then Tulum again for a few days. This is basically because I wonīt be seeing any beaches for a while, and as it has been really cloudy I have no tan whatsoever, which Iīm not happy about. It might also be because by that time Spring Break will have hit Cancun, and I hear that they open really interesting museums at that time which Iīd like to check out......
As I mentioned before there is not much to do here aside from diving, so I have lots of spare time to fill, and I know some of you may be worried about my annoying little habit of losing things, so to put your mind at ease here is a list of things that I have lost so far. I am (perhaps unjustifiably) proud of how small it is:
My shower gel (left it in a shower)
My playing cards (left them on the hostel table when I went out)
My pride and dignity (got turned down by someone at Coco Maya) .... (Even though she kept on dancing with me and asked for my e-mail address) .... (Never mind, she wasnīt that stunning) .... (But she was quite pretty and a good dancer) .... (Okay, so it still hurts, just shut up about it)
On the other hand here is a list of things I have almost lost:
My camera memory card with all my photos (left it in an internet café PC before remembering and going back)
My fleece (lent it to Francisco but then almost forgot to get it back the next day)
My entire rucksack (left it in an internet café, then remembered as I was about to get onto the bus)
So, as you can see, there have been a few close calls. But I have decided itīs best to just accept that forgetfulness is one of my flaws. It would be unfair to have this body, this face, and this facial hair, as well as having a good memory.
Anyway Iīm off to think of something to do. Until next time, adios.

P.S. Thanks to this decent internet cafe Iīm finally up to date with all my photos, so if you want to see them all youīll have to look back at the old entries.

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