Cenote Site Visits and Tune-Up Dive

Don Raphael presented with a Cambrian shirt.

John and Brian help Bob prepare for his dive.

Woody carries a set of doubles to the site.

Brian transport a sidemount for the dive team.

Meg experiencing Little Cave Cenote.

Annie and Megan practicing survey.

Today started at 0630 on the beach with creative calisthenics and stretching. We had fun while getting physically prepared for our day. We departed Villas DeRosa at 0920 and headed for Cenote Muchachos. We arrived at Don Raphael’s house with 19 people in two vans! We presented Don Raphael with one of the expedition t-shirts. He seemed very pleased and told us he had the shirt we gave him last year. He was very gracious as he met the whole team. He communicated to the students to be looking for animals near the cenotes, including monkeys!

Team 1: Bob and Renee
One of the requirements for being on a Cambrian Foundation expedition is a tune up dive with conditions similar to those on the expedition. Bob Giguere, who arrived yesterday, came prepared to conduct his tune up dive today. I had the honor of escorting Bob into a Mexican cave for the first time ever. What a privilege to be on a dive with someone on their first cave dive in the Yucatan.

If anyone ever tells you that “a cave is a cave, is a cave,” it’s safe to assume that they’ve never been in Mexican cave. After a zero vis entry into the cenote, a left turn and a right turn, the visibility cleared. What was revealed to me for the very first time was an awesome display of geology. A beautiful white limestone cave filled with speleothems, columns from ceiling to floor! The cave was so grand and the swim so very slow, I could take in every detail. It’s amazing to think that at one point in history, this large passage had no water in it at all. Today I filled my soul with the history of this cave and reached a new level of respect for the opportunities that I have as a cave diver to see such wonders. They say that it’s never the same as the first time, but I believe that’s not true. My next dive is always my best…I proved that today.

Team 2: Fuqua students
Today was awesome! The day’s activities began on the beach at 6:30a.m. with some good ole’ calisthenics led by “drill sergeants” Terrence and Artie. While bonding through crunches and push-ups, our group truly excelled in the activity called “escaping from a rabid Coati Mundi.” This activity required us to divide into two teams. Each group took turns dragging a teammate at a breakneck speed holding them by the arms and legs across the beach. After the vigorous workout, we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast that was prepared for us. This made the boot-camp experience very worth it! After breakfast we gathered our gear and climbed into a van.

We traveled down the road to a site with three cenotes. We observed Renee and Bob prepare for, and execute, their dive. Annie Rudy, modeled the diving gear so we all knew what went where. After “checking” our dehydration levels behind various trees numerous times, swimming in cenotes, and trekking through overgrown trails, we got back in the van. Overall, we visited Mud, Muchachos, Dry Cave, Carrie’s Loft, Camilo and Little Cave. Once we got back from the jungle, several of us went snorkeling in the ocean outside of the condominium. We saw many different varieties of coral and even saw a sea turtle! At 5:00p.m., we got a lesson from Grant on how to properly survey a cave in preparation for the week’s events.

The day was treacherous and tiring, but we all learned many new things and had many amazing experiences. The trip has been great so far and we look forward to the days that lie ahead of us!

We had a wonderful dinner by the pool served by the Villas DeRosa staff. Following dinner, we had a special guest appearance by Jim Coke. Jim is a well known and respected cave explorer and cartographer. He and the QRSS (Quintanna Roo Speleological Survey) have been extremely supportive of the Foundation and our efforts here in Akumal. After their meeting, he presented Renee with a signed map of the Maya Blue cave system of which he was the primary explorer.

Team Members

  • Artie Ahr
  • Amy Giannotti
  • Bob Giguere
  • Grant Graves
  • Renee Power
  • Karl Shreeves
  • Thecia Taylor
  • Terrence Tysall

Fuqua Team
  • Meg Barkley
  • John Boswell
  • Woody Dunkum
  • Meagan Jones
  • Brian Mackintosh
  • Amanda Massie
  • Josh Owen
  • Annie Rudy
  • Jeremy Wyatt
  • Dora Bounds – teacher
  • Shane Newcombe – teacher

Send questions or comments to the trilobite.
Questions and Comments to the Trilobite

Dear Akamal Gang,
Just heard you guys arrived safely. Wishing you a wonderful week!

Doug & Jennifer Mackintosh

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh. Here I am at…just kidding. We’re all here safely and having a great time. Brian is fast asleep now, but he’s doing fine and having a great time!

From the team

I know you will not be happy with this reminder, but you know me…worry, worry, worry. Did you remember to take the malaria pill this morning (Saturday)? Keep me posted, and you all stay safe!

What malaria pill? Of course I remembered my pill, when have I even forgotten something…well I mean something that important. You can stop worrying because things are going great. Everyplace we go looks so extremely beautiful and we are learning so many new things. This is an once-in-a-lifetime adventure, which I won’t soon forget. I will keep safe, and we will keep you up to date.

Hi Amy,
We’re glad you’re there. Say hi to everyone for us. We love and miss you. I’m packing and writing lists and maps and schedules for Linda. Can’t wait to read and hear about the expedition and the students!

Love Paul

Hi Paul…thanks for your note. Have fun in CA, and I’ll see you on Saturday. Love and miss you, and thanks for taking care of my mom and Allie.


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