I had been living in Cozumel, Mexico for less than a year…maybe even less than 6 months when this happened. I had become a scuba diving instructor, but worked on a boat that needed me to be a guide more than anything. On the particular day I plan to recount for you, we actually had four dive masters on the boat with maybe 8 or 10 divers. The owner of the boat was one of the dive masters that day and when he dove with us, it was generally up to him to decide where we were going to dive.
To give you context, I can tell you that Cozumel probably had between 30 and 40 dive sites. Some known better than others depending on the experience of the divers as well as how long the diver had been around to have even known a site existed and then requested it of the dive master they were diving with. I was fortunate enough to dive off a boat owned by a guy who was in his 60’s, who had lived in Cozumel since he was in his late 20’s! He had seen the changes that had occurred to Cozumel…had survived Hurricane Wilma as well as the introduction of the cruise ship industry to a tiny dive island that before then, no one had been able to find on a map.
On this day in particular, as I mentioned, each dive master was probably only responsible for 2 divers apiece. And maybe the divers had been old favorites of the Master Diver on board and that was why he chose this remote site that had been so infrequently used that even the other diver masters, who had been diving with him for years, had not heard of it. Regardless, the site was amazing! Towards the beginning of the site, we were probably at 120 feet at the time, we entered a cave like condition where we swam into and around an embankment that was so dark, had you not been an experienced diver, you may have really lost your nerve. There was a part where I remember drifting through a thick school of sardines who, I swore, you could hear them. As always, the temperature of the water was probably in the low 80’s…you gotta love the waters of Cozumel and the visibility had to be over 200 feet!
When drift diving in Cozumel, as a dive master, when a diver was ready to go up, what you would do is send a buoy up to the surface to alert the boat to your location, then stay at depth while watching as your divers slowly went up, took their 3-5 safety stop at 15 feet and then you would just keep the buoy at the surface as you finished the dive with the remaining divers. On this particular day, as being one of four dive masters, I had not been required to send my buoy up to the surface, so I was free to enjoy the dive as though I was just pleasure diving with the tourists on the boat. I generally stayed behind our parade of divers as a habit, spending most of my time conducting head counts to make sure we never lost anyone. Towards the end of the dive, at this point, most of the divers would have already been sent to the surface because they were low on air.
I was just hovering around 75 feet, probably thinking about how amazing that cave had been…so cool to have (I swore) heard those sardines! I was looking down at this immense spread of white sand, with some rock formations on either side of me when I noticed a dozen or so bricks just laying at the bottom. And I’m thinking…”Huh, I wonder what those bricks are doing down there?” We never really had much of a pollution problem on these sites because the area in the Caribbean where we were had been turned into a Marine Park which was meant to be safe and clean for scuba diving. I’m wondering…what could I do with those bricks? I’m slowly drifting by…when it dawns on me…Why not move them and try to spell something?
I was never able to return to that site…during the remainder of the 3 years that I spent living in Cozumel. All I could do was ask about it. Did anyone remember it? Did anyone else want to return to it? Was I the only one? Doesn’t anyone else was to swim through that cave formation again? Aren’t these divers we have today experienced enough that we could take them there? Isn’t the boat in good enough shape to make it as far out as that site was? Doesn’t anyone else want to know whether or not those bricks still spell out my name?