Jules Verne Underwater Lodge
Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
450Trip End Ongoing
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Wanna know too? Well, the Jules Verne Undersea Lodge is still the only sunk hotel in the world. It lies in a lagoon at Key Largo at 21 feet depth. The only way to get there is diving. The pressure in the hotel is the same as if you would be in the water at that depth, which means: high. My next mail I am going to tell you about diving, the risks, the safety, the pressure down there, the pressure groups, the diving computer, why people do die occasionally, how we approach it, etc
For now: the hotel. Our diving mistress takes down our stuff in special suitcase and all we have to do is dive to the hotel. You enter it via a 'moon pool' which is a hole at the bottom of the hotel. Since the pressure in the hotel is the same as the water surrounding it, the water does not flood into the hotel. Crawling out of the water, there is a 'wet area' in which you take your gear off and where the bathrooms are.
The hotel only has 2 rooms and we were so so so lucky to be there on our own. Jessica gives us a short tour of the hotel: the kitchen/living room and the bedrooms, but most of all the windows in which you are the attraction to the fish, kind of a reverse aquarium. She goes back on shore and will bring and cook our diner at 6. In the mean time, we go diving round the hotel. We HAVE to stay in the lagoon, it is not save to go out.
We dive out of the hotel (does that sound nice or what?) and Dr T immediately gives me the danger sign. I think: what, what, what, a lion fish? An alligator, something wrong with my gear? One thing about diving already: down there you 'communicate' with signs: you cannot talk. Like: 'thumbs up' does not mean that it is great, it means you go up
We dive around in the lagoon and return to our hotel in time to shower and get ready for diner, brought down by Jessica. In between, we learn about the hotel.
It was designed in 1972 as a science lab, to test many things like: how do people react to being under water for a long time, how is it for different people to live in a small space for many weeks, ... . It also travelled a lot, can take the pressure till 80 meters and where the bedrooms are, was the decompression room.
We have salad, chicken and veggies and key lime key as dessert. Then Jessica goes back up, advising us NOT to take a night dive. We get like 3 emergency procedures: she will be up there on call every minute.
We take her advice; we don't dive at night and watch a DVD: 'The Abyss'
This is like watching a plane crash movie while flying: submarines getting into big trouble. While watching this underwater movie, we hear water noises, look out of the window into the water and see fishes watching us, all the time. Although our watches tell us it is 24 degrees, I am cold and snuggling under the blanket together while watching TV is sooooo romantic.
At night, I hardly sleep. Too exiting? Or maybe, it is the silence. There are no mosquitoes, no slamming doors, no screaming children, no CNN next door, no voices outside. Nothing. Oh, yes there is the sound of the moon pool: the water is slopping onto the boat.
In the morning Jessica picks us up, after we have been at 21 feet for more than 18 hours. Since I went a bit deeper on our dive and more up and down, my watch is upset and orders me to do a safety stop for 8 minutes at 3 meter. Do not know what a safety stop is and why? Maybe you do want to read my next mail.
After showering we get a de-briefing and strict instructions: no:
· Carbonated drinks
· Coffee, tea, ...
for the next 48 hours, our body needs rest. We drive back to Florida City where we, of course, break most of the rules. But: our bodies do protest and we have to make it an early night. We even leave my favorite Dennis after 20 minutes since they did not take our drink order yet. Subway sandwich and bed, still exited!