Following Louis, we come through the reef about 30 feet down at the bottom of huge cylinder. When I look up, the surface is shattered into a million facets, each an ever-changing sky blue or cobalt blue, or turquoise, or one of an untold number of shades of green, or white. The clear sand below ripples with the shadows of the waves above, white, tan, sometimes almost but not quite black. Turning 360° the reef walls all look the same to me. But Louis does another head count and then disappears like magic into the reef in a place where I couldn’t even see an opening.
When it’s my turn, I follow the fins and bubbles of the diver ahead of me, into a tiny dark spot in the reef wall.
This time through the tunnel in the reef, I’m much more comfortable, both with being under the water and with being in the caves. My breathing is more even and regular, although I’m still having a little trouble with my tendency to float. (Louis will tell me later that more yoga will help control my breathing and my positive buoyancy.)
We continue on, swimming through an amazing sunken mansion, through dark "hallways" in the reef to open "rooms." Some of the passages are narrow, closed overhead. Others have openings to the surface where shafts of sunlight spotlight the columns of bubbles as each diver passes through.
In every room—some bigger, some smaller, some closer to the surface, some deeper—Louis counts heads and checks our air supply. Despite some rapid breathing, everybody’s air supply is good.
In what seems a very short time, long before I’m ready, we pop through an opening and find ourselves the ante-chamber inside the "front door." We scoot out into the light and pop to the surface.
Grinning silly grins around our mouthpieces and masks we all add a little air in our buoyancy compensators (BCs in SCUBA parlance) so we can float despite the weight of our tanks and gear. Masks off, mouthpieces out, and now we’re all grinning and smiling for real. High fives for each other and handshakes thanks for Louis.
I’ve gotten my first taste of las cuevas submarinas. Now I’m a glutton—I want more. I see the photo possibilities La Cueva Submarina dive shop owner "Pain" (pronounced pa-EEN) Acivedo talks about so much. I will be back.
I still have five more routes through las cuevas to explore.
*NOTE: the SCUBA Adventure package does NOT make one a certified diver. La Cueva Submarina offers classes for those who wish to become fully certified SCUBA divers.