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Jungle Immersion

Just sit back and imagine…

It is a lovely, sunny day and you are hiking through an abundant jungle on México’s Yucatán Península, creating your very own trail, leading you far away from the hustle and bustle of civilization and up close to the peace and quiet of nature. Suddenly you see some trees wobbling. You pause, observe, and after some seconds spot two beautiful spider monkeys swinging freely from one tree to the next. You delightfully watch them until they disappear and the trees come to a rest.

After a hike of almost two hours, you hear droll “whoop-whoop” sounds – it’s the melody of the glorious Motmot bird and a potential omen that you might be close to discover the object of your desire. And indeed, some footsteps later you arrive at the edge of a magnificent, virgin Cenote (a partially collapsed cave filled where groundwater surfaces) and look down into its crystal-clear, deep-blue water. Surrounding the Cenote you see some imposing trees with their roots hanging down all the way into the water like super-sized, natural straws.

You attach your rope ladder to a massive Ceiba tree and descend about ten meters onto a ledge just slightly above the water surface. Right away you catch a glimpse of some black specks in the water, which upon closer inspection you identify as three-barreled catfish. From your rucksack you unpack: an inflatable buoy, a handy pulley, a long rope with stopper & bottom-plate attached to it and a rusty bottom-weight. Next you assemble them diligently. You fetch your low-volume diving mask as well as your safety belt & lanyard, put them on and with a big leap forward, immerse yourself into the body of water. Your nervous system is first shocked by the cold water, then relieved from the tropical hot air. You pop up with a broad grin and promptly set up the buoy, gently lowering the rope with the bottom weight connected to it.

After you’ve clicked the carbine of your lanyard into the line, you position yourself beside the buoy and recline yourself. You are now comfortably lying on your back, easily floating at the surface, staring into a mix of blue sky, few fluffy white clouds and lush green tree tops. The magnificence of Mother Nature mesmerizes you and you are fully present in this very moment. You gaze at one specific tree branch and let your vision fade out naturally. You scan your body for any tense muscles, releasing one after another consciously and then turn your full attention to your breathing and heartbeat. Your body is completely relaxed and your mind is absolutely calm – you are in a deep, meditation-like state. You initiate your breath control routine (a.k.a. breathe-up technique) to prepare yourself for the dive. When your body, mind and spirit are aligned and you feel 100% ready, you take a deep breath and hold it; you equalize your ears for the first time, turn onto your belly and, with a smooth duck dive, embark on your journey to the underworld: XIBALBÁ

You are descending in a vertical position strictly along the line. The alternating arm and leg strokes are only interrupted by a frequent pinch of your nose to equalize your ears again. Five meters, ten meters… you feel gravity slowly but steadily grabbing you …fifteen meters… you can gradually ease off your movements …twenty meters… you cease all movements and commence the freefall …twenty-five meters…you fully enjoy the effortless “flight” down the water column …twenty-nine meters… slightly ahead of the stop-ball you grasp the rope with both hands, turn around and let yourself hang. You hear… nothing …absolute tranquility. Cautiously you inspect every direction and marvel at this mystical underwater scenery. On the hilly floor below, and illuminated by a splendid beam of light, are some fragments of Mayan pottery. In front of you is a cavern area with enormous stalactites. Fossils of corals and conches are embedded in the karst wall behind you. And upwards, far away and yet seemingly so close, there is the picturesque version of the upper world.

It feels like life stands still, but you sense that it is time to depart on your return trip. You make one initial pull on the line and set yourself in motion. Like on autopilot, the arm and leg strokes are repeating …twenty-five meters, twenty meters, fifteen meters… with buoyancy increasing every meter, you can consistently ease up your movements…ten meters… suddenly another human being appears. It is your buddy, who was there the entire period, meticulously supervising you from the surface and now accompanying you on the last third of your ascend. She winks at you to welcome you back to reality and you smile at her in a mix of comfort, gratitude and satisfaction. Five meters… at this point no more movements are necessary as positive buoyancy takes over and brings you up towards the surface. You and your buddy simultaneously surface, both firmly gripping the buoy and immediately executing recovery breaths. Now the only things left to complete this fabulous dive are; to take off your mask, give your buddy a distinct OK signal and tell her with a clear voice “I am okay”.

How did you like this fictive, “textual” experience? Leave us your comment or send us a message!

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