Some thoughts… The current year has been one of the weirdest, game changing times our generation has faced. None of us could have ever been prepared or imagined to what extent we could have got with this, it’s like the script of a bad Hollywood movie.
Between lockdowns, borders being closed, and world tourism being absolutely frozen for almost 8 months now, the dive industry, as well as the rest of the tourist related sectors of economy have to go through reinvention.
Tourism in Mexico:
Little by little tourists start to reappear around the Mayan Riviera. Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum are starting to be vibrant again, flights from the US and Canada seem to be coming with more and more guests every day and that starts to relief the many families in Mexico that depend on tourism as their main income.
Mexican government just opened back up the unique archaeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula and most of cenotes, parks, and beaches are opening with a close supervision of authorities.
Despite of what appears in the news, businesses, touristic or not, in Mexico have taken every safety measure seriously. Everywhere you go, you’ll have your temperature measured and sanitizing gel for your hands. Waiters, clerks, front desk workers, and dive instructors are all using facemasks on a regular basis now. Being honest, Mexicans have taken the safety precautions that have been recommended in the last months as well as effectively putting them in action.
Diving in COVID-19 times:
Feels normal, yet weird sometimes, of course using a facemask on a boat before hitting the water, or putting it back on right as you get back from the dive doesn’t feel normal, but then again, authorities, tour operators, boat captains, our own dive guides and instructors, have been taking all this very seriously, at the end of the day, it is our best interest that all this ends as soon as possible, and that people feel safe, both our guests and co-workers.
Diving is now becoming a very good option to escape the lockdowns we have been through these last months. Besides the fact that being underwater the risk of catching, any disease is basically none, it also may become a very good opportunity to enjoy an outdoors activity that puts you back in contact with nature and with other people. Many people we’ve been talking to lately agree on how much this quarantine, pandemic, etc. has reminded them that there’s more in life than just work and bills to be paid.
Diving also has become a very good option for acquiring new skills whilst not being able to perform all of the normal activities. eLearning diving courses can be studied at home, giving you an activity that can be done at your own pace and, whenever you have the chance to come down to one of the best diving destinations in the world, you can finish with the practical training.
Fish, corals, and turtles.
During the worst months of lockdown, the images of wildlife taking over public places in big cities, or the cleanness of the Venetian canals were perhaps one of the few happy thoughts that some people allowed themselves to have during these unprecedent times. Now that everyone is starting little by little to get out of home again, those images of crocs taking over malls or bears walking downtown at any city seem no longer real. I was really curious to get back into the water after quarantine. Good surprise, Akumal reefs are beautiful and thriving with life. It’s true that Akumal Bay was declared a protected area in 2017, but after our first post-COVIDocean dive in August and all the ones that followed, it just seems to be better, juvenile fish seem to be more abundant, as well as turtles as we’ve seen many new young ones around here.
All around the Mayan Riviera the ocean seems to be more beautiful, and life probably in a little, rather imperceptible way took a bit of space. A good example of this was the Whale Sharks, that kept appearing a little bit longer than they normally do. Or Bull Sharks, that have been seen around some of the dive sites in Playa del Carmen already, and may hopefully give us a nice surprise by appearing a couple of weeks earlier this year.
The B-side is the huge amount of COVID related rubbish that starts adding to the regular one, luckily at Akumal, not being a densely populated area, we do not have that problem, and our seafloor is usually very clean; but yes, beaches, and oceans all over the world are starting to show an increase of masks, gloves, etc. that are now commonly used and not properly disposed. Unfortunately, right when we were getting close to making everyone more conscious about single use plastics, history has forced us to use them. Yet again we have to re-educate ourselves and start taking responsibility for how our “disposables” are being taken care of.
We at Blue Experience are working hard on eliminating single use plastics from our diving operations and hope to get to have achieved this goal completely by mid 2021.
What to expect? If a lesson is to be learnt in 2020, it's that you never know. What to hope for? That’s more of a question I would like to answer, and it would be awareness. Everyone hopes that this whole situation is going to disappear, and everything is going back to normal. Well, that may not be that accurate, the world has changed, and we have to follow. Maybe we should hope that we’ve learnt more about ourselves after being locked down (voluntarily or not). Probably now we should start giving the right value to a smile, as they’re no longer around as they were. Value the great gifts nature has given us in the shape of many outstanding places, ecosystems, incredible animals and beautiful plants. It’s maybe time for us to start getting closer to each other, care more and reconnect.
As for the diving community, we’re still here. Some of us luckily back in the water, some others missing the ocean badly. We would say, flights are coming back, hotels are reopening, dive centres and dive professionals are here waiting for divers to be able to get back to this lifestyle that binds us together. So, start planning that dive trip, get in touch with your preferred dive shop or dive instructor and keep enjoying this world that even in its darkest hours still reminds us of its magnificence, from tiny nudis to massive whale sharks.