…Down Mexico Way

Posted by in Travel

I’m back from Mexico and can report that no animals were harmed in the making of this dive trip. No non-human animals, at least. Er… well, we did catch quite a few trigger fish during the surface intervals, but I don’t count those because they make for such tasty ceviche.

I’ve got quite a few pictures to post in the photo gallery, but I’ll whet your appetite with some highlights.

The new Schulz house in San Carlos is really something to behold. I’d estimate the size to be more than 3,000 square feet. Newly constructed on the side of a hill overlooking the bay, this pad is equipped with a home theatre, high speed internet access, a gourmet kitchen, and is furnished so smartly that it looks like something out of a Pottery Barn catalogue:

Living room

The house sits atop a hill about 150 feet above the water level. Here’s a photo I snapped on our last day of diving as the boat re-entered San Carlos Bay:

Exterior as seen from the harbor

One of my favorite rooms was the TV room. Or, if you prefer, “home theatre”. Equipped with a big screen TV, satellite hookup, surround sound, leather sofas, and a wet bar for those times when you get hungry for a liquid snack:

Home theatre

Here’s one photo I took on the patio during a typical Mexican sunset. The ever-present towering cumulonimbus clouds can be seen in the background. They do get some spectacular thunderstorms down there; mother nature is in charge and she never lets you forget it. Keep in mind that this image is not retouched or edited:

A typical sunset at Casa de Schulz

It’s not all fun and games. The mosquitos came out en mass every morning and evening. Without bug spray you’d be eaten alive. Not to mention the heat and humidity, which can be far more oppressive than anything you’ll find in Arizona or Florida. But that’s the way Mexico is, and once you adopt what I call a ‘tropical mindset’, it becomes more like a relaxing sauna you can just melt into. Anyway, it’s tough to convey a real sense of what it’s like standing on that deck watching the sun set over San Carlos Bay, but this panoramic will give you a general idea (click on the image to zoom in):

Panoramic view of San Carlos Bay from the lower deck of the house

For me, the real test of any Mexican residence is how well the shower drain functions. I’ve been to Mexico dozens of times. Rosarito, Cozumel, La Paz, San Carlos, Hermosillo, etc. And in every case, no matter where I’ve stayed, the shower drains clog like the lungs of a three pack a day smoker. It’s irksome because I have this thing about showers. See, I like to use them to get clean. But that can be tough to do when you’re standing in a tepid pool of filthy water. This time, however, the drains ran clear for the entire week. A Festivus miracle!

The diving was great — how could it not be when you’ve got a pimped out 38′ boat and a dozen college friends as part of the deal? I’m happy to say I’m one of the few who was in the water for every single dive, even after late evenings anchored by Cuervo 1800.

One dive sticks out as particularly memorable. Due to some unfortunate currents, four of us — all highly experienced — ended up marooned on a rock for half an hour while the boat shuttled around to pick up divers who’d been carried off by the water. Lounging on the rock wasn’t so bad, but eventually we had to jump back in and make a 50 yard surface swim through waters peppered with the dreaded Portuguese Man-of-War.

The craziest thing from the trip was actually an article from the August issue of Outside Magazine about an airline pilot named Dave Shaw. Shaw liked to dive — deep. He set a world record by reaching a depth of 927 feet in a South African freshwater cave called Bushman’s Hole. For those of you who don’t dive, recreational divers are supposed to limit themselves to about 60 feet. Even highly experienced divers rarely pass 100 feet. By the time you reach 300 feet, air is no longer breathable because under that much pressure it becomes toxic to the human body. A man-made mixture of helium, nitrogen, and oxygen must be used instead. Anyway, I won’t give away what happened to Shaw, but you can read the article here.

The coming and going from Mexico was interesting. First of all, one of our divers has been in Mexico City for the past few months and decided to travel to San Carlos the cheap way, via bus. It took Seth more than 36 hours. Read all about it.

I thought he was crazy to be traveling by bus, especially since I made the savvy decision to go by air. Yeah right. It took me 36 hours to get home! Which is especially maddening when you consider that my conveyance was travelling at 500 mph, more than 10 times the speed of Seth’s taco bus.

Here’s what happened. First of all, the America West Dash-8 was about four hours late getting to Guaymas to pick us up. There was some sort of mechanical delay in Phoenix. Then, we dodged thunderstorms all the way to Phoenix only to find the airport closed by the weather. We held for more than an hour before diverting to Tuscon, which was totally unprepared for us. We got AW to comp us some lodging, but not before Arnie let off a little steam at a supervisor. The next morning, our flight from Tuscon to Phoenix was late departing, and I barely made my connecting flight to Orange County. Most of the guys on this trip drove, and they made it home in 1/3 the time it took me via America West. The old saying is true: “Time to spare? Go by air!”

There is some talk of diving in Honduras next year. The destination was voted on and unanimously approved over dinner, but virtually everyone at the table was drunk at the time, so who knows. Wherever we end up, I’ve no doubt it’ll be an adventure.