Day 5: Big day #2 =WOWZERS!
**Be prepared...it's going to be a picture heavy day**
Up at 6:30am and the sunset was just coming up and I would head out to sit on the upper deck and watch it come up. Lucky me (truth be known, I'd much rather be getting the extra Zzz's in but it is what it is)
I snapped a few pictures of the firey ball of heat and the hubby and I headed downstairs for our ritual of opening up the house to cool it down, caffeine goodness, and sitting out on the patio.
As the time passed by and the heat grew, the hubby and I discussed our plans for the day. They were big plans. They were the main reason I decided to come to Isla Mujeres after reading about them years ago. Today...we were GOING DIVING!
Short story is...we went to Grenada in 2018 and went diving at the sculpture park. It was absolutely amazing (even though I had wished that we could have slowed down some during that dive and not rush past everything) and after returning home, I immediately looked up other dive sites with sculptures and would discover there was actually one located in the Cancun area. Well lucky me, since our airline flys to Cancun, I knew that this had to be the place we went to on vacation so that we could dive where the sculptures are (now there are 3 places they have sculptures in the Cancun/Isla Mujeres area, but we would only be going to 1 of them SADLY!). Either way, I was super excited to go.
Around 8:45am I received a text from Squalo (dive operator that we also used for whale watching of course) asking if we were on our way. SAY WHAT?!? What do you mean on our way? He said they were getting everything ready to take to the boat and wanted to know if we were close. Um....our dive is at 1pm. He told me the 1pm time was for Discover Scuba and 9am was the regular certified divers. But...we are Discover and not certified.
Now just a little back history, I ended up getting the dive for the regular dive price (instead of the Discover Scuba Dive price) because we have dove so many times (I think this will be our 15th time) and he said if we could prove that we have had a recent dive as well, he would only charge us for a regular divers price. He also said we would be going out with the regular divers too. But, when I went to book it, it gave a time of 1pm and that's what I picked. I guess the regular divers were going out at 9am and the Discover Scuba was for 1pm. I thought there was just a difference in price...not times.
Well, there was NO WAY I could get ready and get there in 15 minutes. I mean Sakari wasn't even up yet and we haven't even had breakfast. That would not work. So he said it was ok and he'd see us at 1pm. Whew! I almost panicked thinking we weren't going to get to go.
The hubby made egg and cheese bagels and hija's sniffer was in full force and down she came.
We hung out at the house until 12:15pm and then headed into town to make sure we had enough time to find parking for the "jeep". We managed to find 1 spot but it was going to be a hard fit because there was a motorcycle behind us and someone had placed a cone in front. We moved the cone up a little bit and squeezed in and backed up as far as we could to the motorcycle. I'm not sure what the cone was there to save, but there was plenty of room for a golf cart to squeeze in still.
We headed into Squalo and paid the rest of our money owed and they suited us up with wetsuits and fins. Andres, the owner, was not going with us because he had went out with the morning dive and he said "I have things to do". He told us Jesus would be taking us out instead.
Once we were ready, Jesus put everything on a 2 wheeled cart, including our bags, and strapped them down. We were walking to the beach/dock area again. Omg it's too hot for these walks...especially now in a wet suit...that wasn't wet yet. Not that it would have mattered because it would have been dried by the time we got there anyhow.
When we arrived at the dock, the boat was waiting for us and off we went. Along the way Jesus did a quick review of all the diving rules, hand signals...and of course "don't hold your breath". If there's one thing that is etched in my brain, it's that phrase from back in Sakari's scuba classes years ago.
We were then told that we would be going to a shallow 9' deep location to do our skills in and then we would head to MUSA for the sculpture dive. We geared up and everyone back rolled off the boat...except me. :/ I had explained my foot situation prior to going and Andres said I would be able to sit on the side and back roll however, they were having me jump off and then putting my dive gear on in the water. I really wanted to back roll!
Sakari was the first to go in and I was busy getting my fins on and missed her...but caught the hubby on his turn.
When it was my turn, I jumped in and it was really hard to swim. I was sinking and Jesus told me to hold the rope on the side of the boat. He said "you still have weights in your belt". Oops, I didn't think about that. Weights with no inflated bcd =no bueno! I think Sakari is the only one that brought a camera for this event. We did all of our skills and I guess we passed with flying colors. It wasn't very comfortable done there. We were kneeling on sea grass with large rocks in them and my knee kept hitting them. Hubby got the Elvis Presley look going on and I wanted to bust out in song "uh huh, I'm all shook up"
After we did our skills, we climbed back on the boat and we were on our way to the first dive site. Yes, we were diving 2 sites today. One would be the MUSA underwater museum and the other would be the Manchones Reef. We were getting a two for one today!
It was a short boat ride out to our first dive spot and that was going to be MUSA.
Just a little information about MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte) so that you know what you are looking at.
MUSA's underwater museum was designed in 2009 to counteract the effects of climate change on our oceans and reef systems. It is located just off the coast of Isla Mujeres and was formally opened to the public on November 26, 2010. It is one of the largest underwater art attractions in the world. The statues are made up of pH neutral concrete and placed on the ocean floor as an artificial reef. They have become a major diving and snorkeling attraction in Cancun and Isla Mujeres. There are over 500 sculptures from several artists and draws over 750,000 visitors per year. The area is around 4500 square feet. It has a fairly shallow depth of around 29 feet and is a perfect place for new divers.
They hooked the boat up to the floating buoy and it was time to get in. Sakari and the hubby did their water gymnastics off the side of the boat and again...I was told to jump in and they'd put my bcd on even after I ask if I could sit where we go off the boat and them put my bcd on and me back roll. Ugh. I really wanted to do acrobatics off the side of the boat too! (stomping foot like a child...only not my bad foot).
Once we were in, we were told to descend down the rope. I start to descend and after awhile, I look around and see that I'm the only one using the rope and the hubby and daughter are just going down like they are pros. Only I was having some problems. Eventually Jesus put some more weights in my belt and I was finally able to get down. Whew!
So off we went...Sakari was armed with my camera, I had the GoPro 10 and the hubby had the GoPro 7.
It wasn't long before we came to our first sculpture. This piece is called the Time Bomb and the Mine and was designed by Jason de Cairnes Taylor. It represents a statement of the earth's environment.
This area is called "Urban Reef" or "Las Casitas" if you are on the island. This section is made up of two houses designedl by Jason de Cairnes Taylor. One of the houses comes with a bubbling chimney. :)
Taylor worked with local marine biologists and designed the rooms in the house with a variety of spaces, hideaways and textures that are tailored for different reef inhabitants. It was situated in an open area and would also serve as a shelter from reef predators like Barracudas and Lion Fish. For example, the chimney offers a tubular area for moray eels. The living room has a mesh entrance for juvenile fish to escape predators. Another room offers large, dark cavities for squirrelfish and puffers. There's also a flat, dark retreat area to attract crabs and lobsters. The roof of the houses are textured to encourage the settlement of coral polyps.
Since Sakari was the only one armed with an actual camera this time around, I made sure to give a little "overview" of switching between the macro function and regular pictures. She said she had it under control this time and that she did.
It was about this time that I notice the hubby struggling with his GoPro. He was giving the vibe that something was wrong....already. This darn thing I swear. Every time we dive there's something going wrong with it. He showed me it eventually and it wouldn't even turn on. We tried everything and it was useless. I feel like once it gets UNDER water (not snorkeling) then it just stops working a lot. I've had nothing but issues with it from day one of purchasing it. I know it's the "bottom of the line" GoPro and I got it for super cheap on a Black Friday Sale one year....and now I know why. They are crap. I've had issues from keeping it charged, not working when I need it to, and then all the diving issues. I'm not even sure if I should keep it in my camera bag at this point. Maybe we will only use it for back up. Of course the other issue is that it has an internal battery (meaning you can't keep back up batteries and replace them when one dies.) So, once it's dead, you have to go somewhere to charge it. So if you are in the market for a GoPro and looking for something older and that won't break the bank...DO NOT go with the Hero 7 silver (or white).
The hubby only managed to get a few video's at the beginning of the dive.
In order to see how this chimney operates and get the full effect, you'll have to watch my scuba diving video at the end.
There are also two circular sculptures in the area, called Seascape 1 & 2, created by Karen Salinas Martinez. You can swim through one of them. The other had fallen over. There was also supposed to be a square one that sat parallel to the ocean floor and appears as a bench but I did not see that one.
Sakari was off busy doing her micro/macro photography that she loves so much when we dive and I was busy trying to learn the functions of the new GoPro. Since I really messed up the other day while swimming with the whale sharks, I was paying a bit more attention to switching back and forth between the setting and being aware of what I was doing this time around. It sucks that I took such a once in a lifetime experience I had been waiting so many years to do, to take this opportunity to "learn" my new camera.
It was about a 5 minute swim to the next section of sculptures. Sakari was getting in everything she could on the way.
And then before our very eyes...it was The Silent Evolution!!! What a beautiful site! I couldn't believe it...we had made it. We were finally going to get to see this after so many years. My heart was filled with joy. My mind was filled with amazement.
The Silent Evolution was created by Jason Taylor and he used REAL models to create images of people depicted in various situations for a very dramatic and stunning effect. The individual sculptures represent 450 life sized sculptures of people from various cultures around the world that blend nature and art in one elaborate fusion. A community of people standing in defense of their oceans. Some of the statues show smiles and looking up to the surface and some are hiding their faces.
Some of the statues include:
* A statue of singer names Juanita that the divers can interact with. When you put your regulator in her mouth, she bubbles as she "sings".
*A statue of a little girl, named Valeria, who clutched her small bag and smiled for 50 minutes while her mold was being made.
*A statue of a man with his hands over his head, named Paz.
* An 85 year old nun, that was a Spanish teacher, that he molded her clothed as a nun.
*A woman, named Lily, who was pregnant, gave birth to her daughter the same month that the nun above passed away. They were placed together in the water to show respect to the life cycle.
*There was a reporter that came to Cancun to report on the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009. However, it was a ghost town and nothing to see. So it was suggested that she change her story to cover to the sculpture park. She agreed, but only if they could make a sculpture of her. She was told the casting was done naked...which she did.
*Victoria Secret models were used on the first round but since so many of them had "too much silicone", they were too top-heavy and couldn't keep still for the hour it took to do their mold. New models were found with a more natural look.
A lot of the people are replicated because they change so dramatically underwater. Each statue is anchored to the ocean floor and is supposed to withstand a category 4 hurricane. The sculptures were placed in the shape of an eye. It is said that the direction of the eye was important because it faces the pathway of hurricanes and reduces the hurricanes energy. They were also positioned downstream from the Manchones Reef so that after coral spawning, they were in the optimal position to intercept the larvae flow. The Manchones Reef also shelters the sculptures from tropical storms and hurricanes. The reef is now home to over 2000 juvenile corals.
As we approached...
The most beautiful schools of Porkfish were in this area and the reef. I'm honestly not sure if I've seen these before.
It looked like this sculpture was holding a bouquet of flowers.
This is Paz with his hands above his head. Click the thumbnail below to see what he looked like before the growth. Obviously the "before" picture is not mine and I take no credit for it and was found online to compare.