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Miserable cenote experience out of Cancun.

Discussion in 'Mexico' started by EstrellaCaribe, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. scubadiver888

    scubadiver888 Divemaster

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: North America
    1,504
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    Ah, I was thinking Tajma Ha. I know the drop that was hard on your ears. I've done that cenote twice and both times the guide (different each time) was smart enough to ask if anyone had trouble equalizing. The second time I did that drop the guide was little nervous when I lagged behind but I just gave him signal for "trouble" pointed at my ear, gave him the signal for "slow" then gave him an "ok". He gave me time to descend and all was good.

    Thanks for saying. I'm still working on it. Most the instructors I work with have been diving for a lot longer than me; I only have around 600 dives.
     
    EstrellaCaribe and Coztick like this.
  2. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    809
    498
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    Strange that the first dive would be Tajma Ha, when I did my cenote dives last year they purposely did our first dive at a more open cenote so the DMs could get a feel for the diving ability and the comfort level before going to a more restricted less open cenote like Tajma Ha.

    ETA: Hopefully you get a chance to go back with a better DM, for me diving Tajma Ha was a really positive experience. I made a bunch of equipment changes and streamlining based on my experience diving caverns. It was also a very beautiful cavern, I am watching the video of my dive since this thread reminded me of it.
     
    EstrellaCaribe likes this.
  3. Streydog

    Streydog Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: DFW, TX
    817
    502
    93
    I have only dove one cenote and it was Tajma Ha. I happened to rupture, or tear my ear drum on that dive. We did two dives there and during the first one at one point when we were ascending I felt water going into my right ear, no pain at all. I did a second dive there as well without issues. It was later that I realized I damaged my ear. I was staying in the area for a while, took a week off and dove again which wasn't a great idea. I eventually got an infection and saw a Dr. in Playa for the infection. Long story short I don't blame the guide, I was instructed to equalize often and be aware we would be ascending and descending often. This was in early September, since hen I have seen an ENT locally and was cleared to dive. Went back to Cozumel twice since.
     
  4. sea_otter

    sea_otter DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Jose, CA
    323
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    I hate this approach, and unfortunately, it's far too common. I'm not blaming you, rather, I'm blaming the many shops that push it to customers and provide questionably qualified guides.

    The cenotes offer amazing diving, but they do require a bit better than beginner level skills when it comes to buoyancy, trim, light awareness, and comfort in the water. At 25 dives, that's a pretty big ask. Now, I certainly cannot speak to your ability, but it sounds like the guide was uncomfortable with your experience level or something he saw in the water. If he wasn't comfortable, the right answer would have been to offer to help work through any issue in the open water until a cavern tour would be safe and enjoyable for all. Alternatively, if that's not feasible, the second right answer would have been to cancel the dive with an apology and refund. It sounds like the guide was probably not capable nor empowered to do either.

    I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, especially in such a beautiful place. If you choose to try cenote diving again, I would recommend seeking out a guide who is also at least a cavern instructor (after all, going into a new environment as a diver uncertified to venture there alone, this would be a bit more appropriate than only requiring a dive master with a cave card, as is the typical Mexico standard). A private trip for just you and your husband may also be more enjoyable. Four divers and a guide is a lot in an overhead environment.
     
    EstrellaCaribe likes this.
  5. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    3,355
    3,701
    113
    Plenty of people go to Taj with first time cenote divers because it’s a very short dive and all but the biggest air hogs can easily do t with plenty of reserve to spare. It’s also a straightforward dive with several obvious get out of jail free cards. It’s much bigger than you think, but itNs dark sonit seems much smaller.

    You may have thought that you were well out of the light zone, but when you’ve got your own light, as well as the DM using a canister light, it a dark cave, it can be difficult to actually see an exit until you’re literally underneath the cenote. One of the techniques learned in a cavern/cave course is to cover you light and let your eyes adjust, and after a couple minutes you can quite easily see an exit where you swore there was nothing but cave. Taj is a dark cave, but well lit on all but the darkest of days. It’s not nearly as “bright” as other caves in the area, places like Ponderosa or Dos Ojos, where other cavern tours are quite popular.

    It sounds like a breakdown in communication. How did you indicate that you had a problem? Did you give the universal, “something’s wrong” sign and point to your ears? Have you had trouble equalizing before and did you tell him before the dive? At what point did he put you into touch contact? (Sorry, on my phone and can’t see your original post) Do you remember if this was before or after a left hand turn with opposite facing arrows in the line?

    The scenario you describe where he grabbed you by the arm and swam you out is textbook touch contact, and exactly what you do if you need to swim a diver out of a cave, either due to a loss of visibility, or a “rescue” scenario. If you were having trouble maintaining neutral buoyancy, especially in a cave with rapid depth changes like Taj, and you seemed to be having issues, I would have probably reacted in the same way. It seemed as though he made a determination that you were unable to complete the dive safely and without issue by yourself, so he did his job and safely swam you out of the cave. He should have briefed this protocol, i’m guessing he didn’t.

    It sounds more than anything like a lack of communication before, during, and after the dive. And it seems that from his perspective you were in trouble and, being completely unprepared and unequipped to deal with the issues yourself (not a slight, you’re not a cave diver, it’s to be expected) he did his duty to manage the situation as any cave trained diver would, get into touch contact, take control of the diver, and exit. That you are unaware that this is how these situations are expected to be handled again demonstrates the breakdown in communication.

    Again, on my phone so i’n Trying to respond to your OP from memory.
     
  6. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    3,925
    2,279
    113
    @EstrellaCaribe,

    Different angle here. Did you go to an ENT and get evaluated? If so, what did the doctor say? If not, I encourage you to make a appointment.

    This is a bizarre situation. I would hope that any DM would know before getting certified that people equalize at different rates. Heck, sometimes I can drop like a rock, but on occasion, a feather.

    Next time, I’d slap tha hands away from any DM. Honestly, I’d pull a dive knife on the guy and abort. And I would be quite vocal. Someone like that can get you seriously hurt, if not killed.
     
  7. EstrellaCaribe

    EstrellaCaribe Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Virginia
    8
    7
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    @JohnnyC I appreciate the perspective, but you're misapprehending a few points. He started to hang onto me at the BEGINNING of the dive, right during the initial descent, within 3 minutes of going down, and well before any signs or turns in the dive...and then proceeded to do the entire dive like that. He wasn't 'rescuing me' if he continued through the whole dive. Initially I signaled by pointing to my ear and doing the 'problem' hand signal and then the 'wait' or 'hold' hand signal. Before the dive, I had no indication that I would have trouble equalizing - I usually don't, and the times that I have, just a minute or two of a slower descent has sorted me out. Once my ear had (painfully) equalized, I said I was OK a bunch of times.

    @wetb4igetinthewater - I did not get evaluated by an ENT...as soon as we got back I had a bunch of deadlines at work and Christmas with 4 kids and a church play that I was organizing...I just back burnered my ear thing, sad to say. I probably should get checked out still. #newyearspriorities - I wanted to smack him away, I really did...but I felt like that would just escalate things...I signaled to him a bunch of times that I was OK, and tried to wave him off, pointed to the lead spot in our line like "go over there, I am OK!" but he just wouldn't leave.

    I would have loved to have some unfettered time down there to cover my light and get my bearings. It was a beautiful place, the openings were magical, and I would happily go back with another DM, if I ever had the opportunity.
     
    ayalowit and Coztick like this.
  8. EstrellaCaribe

    EstrellaCaribe Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Virginia
    8
    7
    3
    @sea_otter - I am a cenote novice to be sure, but we did do our open water check dives in a cenote during our last trip to Mexico a couple years ago. This wasn't my first cenote experience. I agree that the 'nothing bad ever happens in a cenote' attitude is statistically (and historically :eek: ) incorrect.

    Anyway, the big lessons here are to ask a BUNCH more questions before booking trips, to insist on more communication on the surface, more communication after the first dive (but honestly, I was so angry that silence was probably the best option), and a greater willingness on my part to call the whole dive and demand a refund. I've been reliant on my DH to make arrangements for our dive excursions, but will take a more active role in planning future trips together.

    :newyear::pirate2:
     
  9. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    3,925
    2,279
    113
    @EstrellaCaribe,

    I’d suggest contacting Natalie Gibb owner of Under the Jungle. She’s an awesome cave instructor (I know a number of divers trained by her) and explorer.

    I’m not sure if she guides in cenotes or not, but she’d be able to refer you to a good op if she doesn’t.
     
    EstrellaCaribe likes this.
  10. sea_otter

    sea_otter DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Jose, CA
    323
    244
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    She does guide cavern tours, and she employs a few very good cavern instructors who will also lead private tours. I'll second the recommendation.

    Her attention to detail in customer service is comparable to what I'd expect from a Michelin star restaurant. But instead of dining from white linens, you're wading through muddy manure fields to get to a hole in the ground somewhere in the jungle. Not a single detail is omitted, though. I've never known a cave instructor who will keep notes on how her students take their coffee... until I met Nat.
     
    EstrellaCaribe likes this.

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