At the age of 23, Tiffany H. Carey moved from her hometown in Chicago to Lawrence, Kansas, where she attended the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. After graduation, she moved to Manhattan Beach, California, following a proposal of marriage. This year she joined Skin Diver as its copy editor, and finding the enthusiasm for diving infectious, decided to get certified. She dived the Sea of Cortez only one week after her final certification dive off Catalina Island.
Michelle Danner has been a diver for five days. A UC Santa Barbara graduate and native of California, her fears of the Pacific Ocean kept her feet dry. After becoming the managing editor of Skin Diver magazine in February of 1999, she began to appreciate the beauty of the ocean. Following more than a year of harassment by her fellow staff, she jumped into a swimming pool in Los Angeles and finished her certification in Cabo San Lucas.
After becoming certified in 1991, Tamara Collins spent two weeks diving the reefs of Belize and vowed she would write about it for Skin Diver. Two years later she became the magazine's assistant editor. Now the editor of Skin Diver Online, Tamara organizes online stories of incredible scuba adventure taking place around the world. This time it's her turn to hit the road. With laptop in hand she's off to Cabo San Lucas and the Sea of Cortez.
Ty Sawyer, Skin Diver's Senior Editor, has been to every Cabo Dive Fiesta--this one and the last one. He plans to repair the good name of Skin Diver after Tamara, Michelle and Tiffany caused the town to drop to its knees and cry, "Mercy, for God's sake, mercy."
This year Ty has pledged to hide the treasures for the treasure hunt better than he did at the last Fiesta. And somewhere offshore awaits the damn baitball that eluded him last year. But don't expect him to come back with a tan, as the Mexican Navy uses the glare off his body as an aid to navigation.
Daryl Carson, assistant editor of Skin Diver, is a man of mystery. No one can figure out how he made the journey from his homeland in the south to glamorous LA. It is rumored that he learned to read while walking from his double wide trailer to the school bus stop. He was fascinated by billboards and spent hours staring at them, trying to sound out the words.
Through pure determination and better oral hygiene, Daryl landed a job at Skin Diver about two years ago. It was the perfect combination of words and water. Today, he is allowed to travel to places like Cabo, where he dives and stares at billboards, sounding out new, foreign words.
Day 3: Ty and Daryl Descend on Cabo
Upon arrival, Cabo San Lucas quickly becomes known as Cabo De Beelzebub. It is hotter than jalapenos bathed in chili sauce. It is, el caliente. We step off the plane feeling like touristas, bursting into perspiration, sweating like men caught cheating on their wives. It is clear that, in order to successfully complete our mission as dive hombres of Cabo, we must first get into the local groove. So four of us (Ty and Daryl) and our
Getting inked at The Office.
two buddies, Lenny (veteran of past Skin Diver dive events) and Tobin (veteran of four certification dives) decide to hit the beach. The anticipation is high, but Lenny's excitement exceeds all. He is like a kid forced to stand at the front gate of Disneyland for two hours before it opens.
Lenny, Kim Walmer and a friend enjoy their day at The Office.
Following the lead of our esteemed colleague and Baja super host Kathy Knoll, we check into our hotel and then catch a water taxi across the bay. We arrive afloat only because of the benevolence of God and the constant bailing by our driver. Four bucks later and we are at the office. Make that, The Office, a collection of sun-beaten umbrellas gathered around a thatch-roofed restaurant and bar on the beach.
Signing up for the night dive at Amigos Del Mar.
We order buckets full of ice and cold drinks and watch a bikini-clad tourist getting a henna tattoo just north of what we have reason to believe is a tan line. Inspired, we follow suit and get inked to cement our masculine presence in Cabo. Slowly but surely the feminine energy lingering from Tamara, Michelle and Tiffany will be eradicated.
Daryl contemplates the possibilities of life in Cabo.
After four hours of scoping the beach, the stress of the real world can hardly be remembered. We are nearly in sync with the beat and heat of Baja. But to complete our acclimation, we need to dive.
So, we take our tattoos and leave the beach late in the afternoon, as the sun drops into the Pacific. Lenny and Tobin promise to catch up with us at the shop for a night dive.
Loading up the boat for the night dive.
We arrive at the dive shop and greet the other divers. Joining our inaugural dive are David (from Cleveland), Tobin, Bob (retired expat living in Cabo) and Dennis and Ginger (Colorado veterans of last year's Cabo Dive Fiesta) and a few others. Also joining our group are Robin and John, both from NiteRider. They have brought a bucket full of Blackwater 3000 dive lights for everyone to try.
One problem. No Lenny. So we leave his ass behind.
Getting geared up.
It is Tobin and David's first night dive. It is Tobin's first dive since certification. They show the steely calm of old salts and Navy SEALs. We anchor on one side of the bay, just inside the arch at a site called Pelican Rock. The bottom is 25 feet, but quickly slopes away and forms a rocky wall that drops to 2,000 feet. We hit the water with Tobin and David in tow, and descend, slipping over the rocky ledge into the pitch black.
We turn on our NiteRider lights and start searching for all the creatures Cabo is famous for. We quickly cross paths with a Spotted Moray Eel on the hunt, clusters of arrow crabs packed into the crevices and several rays, including a Spotted Eagle Ray and electric rays. Shovelnose Guitarfish search the bottom as we sight our hand-mounted lights on the sandflats. Even the elusive Jeweled Moray made an appearance, strutting its stuff.
Sinking into the inky black sea.
As we continue our lights seem to be intermittently failing; flickering and dim. A quick glance at the lamp reveals the real problem, tiny, red shrimp. Millions of wriggling, juvenile shrimp swarm everyone's light. Attracted to the bright beams, they ball up in little crimson schools so dense they nearly block out the entire beam. About the size of a softball, the shrimp schools swirl and pulse. It's like watching a physical form of energy dance in rhythm with the sea. It was cute. At first.
Cervezas hit the spot after the night dive.
Back onboard the boat, we climb out of our gear and stand bare-chested beneath the Mexican sky. The stars crown our heads like the sons of Neptune. David and Tobin, the newly initiated, have joined the ranks of black-water divers. On the horizon are the lights of Cabo, and though we can't hear the music of the dance clubs, we know they too are thriving and pulsing. And, finally, everything feels in sync.
The moon over Cabo.
To celebrate, six of us--Ty, Daryl, John, Will, Robin and David (and NOT Lenny)--ascend to the Whale Watcher bar at the Finesterra for some nitrogen diffusers. That's gringo for cerveza. The night is so hot and still, we must once again strip to the waist. And like men have done for centuries, we tell each other lies.
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