Friday, September 2, 2011

Scuba Diving Vacation in Cozumel

I don't even know how to begin this post other than prefacing it by saying our scuba diving vacation in Cozumel was "the coolest thing I've ever done"! Scuba diving is my new love, I am so hooked!
The hardest part was for sure having to leave our girls behind but it was such a comfort to know that they were in such good hands. Kim watched them, with the help of Kass and Monte and Travis's amazing cousin Jody who watched them for two days (including nights). I cannot explain how grateful I am for them, we are so blessed to have family who drops everything they have going on their life to help us without hesitation. They are such amazing examples to me and I hope I can be as selfless with my time and efforts as they are.
Before handing to girls over to my amazing mother in law I had to take a picture of my little angles asleep in the car.

I am such a boob, it felt like a part of me was being torn away, the best part, when I left them. They had so much fun with Jody, her boys, and being at grammy's house. We touched bases with them every night and got to see the girls on skype, I am SOOOO grateful for skype even though it was really glitchy it was great!
So onto our most amazing trip. It started out not so amazing, we had a red eye flight (left at 1 am) and when we got there our flight said it wasn't destined to leave a hour later than originally scheduled, Sandee traveled with us as well, LOVE her! And since we got there two and a half hours early (even after checking through all the terminals and things) we had to wait for three and half hours to fly out, then we had a four hour lay over in Altanta but we got there. Fourteen hours later, but it was SOOOO worth it.
They have the AC blasting through the airport and Sandee was a little cold so she was sporting the ultimate "no no" in fashion, sandals with socks ;)

Travis thinks that big black guy behind him here was some professional football player, I wouldn't know.

Who takes pictures in an airport, only me I'm sure

Four in the morning, we tried to get a little shut eye but my mom ended up reading and we ended up playing card games

We got to our hotel, The Hotel Cozumel, around one in the afternoon. It was beautiful!

Once there we were met with a fabulous array of FOOD. It was an all inclusive resort, so we really stuffed ourselves to our hearts content.

I loved how they made the food so esthetically pleasing :)

We did an off shore dive that afternoon, I wanted to refresh my memory on scuba diving and everything. I have only been on one trip diving before this and it had been five years ago so I needed a refresher. At first I panicked a little because my ears wouldn't release and I wasn't use to setting my buoyancy, I remembered thinking "Oh no, and this is a trip all about scuba diving". At the surface I finally just calmed down, took few minutes to just breathe and relax (and pray). Then Travis took my hand and we went down again. I loosened my mask and found that it helped me clear my ears and I remembered the other techniques you use to clear them and I found I was able to relax. I had too much weight in the BC this first dive so I sunk like a rock but I got the weight right after that dive and it was smooth sailing after that!
Then we went to dinner.

Uncle Ron, Aunt Marilyn, Troy, Rhett, Gary and Angela got there right as we were eating so they came and joined us. Now the REAL party began!!!

We got all settled in, talked the night away and started our adventure bright and early the next morning.
I love big breakfasts and these breakfasts were amazing, they had everything. It was so nice to wake up to a huge breakfast every morning and not have to do ANY of the cooking, cleaning, etc.
Troy Boy

Rhett and Troy, these two are of a similar mind when it comes to things philosophical. And trust me when your with the Tenney's there is bound to be plenty of analytical talk, they are all such avid learners and love to question everything and have good discussion.

This is a watermelon, cool!

Gary and Angela bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Rhett is an absolute crack up.

Sandee and Rhett spent the summer apart because Rhett had these summer courses so they were "Reunited and it feels so good"! Sandee was singing that song the whole day I think.

The dock, where our boats would pick us up, it is so beautiful!

There was a lot of humidity in the mornings, it was fogging up my camera lens.

The gorgeous surrounding area, where you could sun bathe, wade in the water, and swim.

Angela is so classy, I love taking pictures of her.

Loading up on The Johnny. This was the boat that my Uncle Ron and Aunt Marilyn always rode on and we would rotate who was in which boat throughout the week.

What a good looking couple, they should be a magazine or something

My dad is a stud

My mom is a babe!

I loved just plain boating, so it was so fun speeding through the ocean to the different dive sites.

I was pretty overwhelmed at first on our dive because everything was so incredible and you can't talk while your under water so I was on overload screaming to myself, "This is SOOOO AWESOME!" You have signs that you use under water to communicate a little, mainly just signs for the different fish but there is a sign for awesome and needless to say I used that sign emphatically and often.
In between dives you need to take about a half hour interval break so the nitrogen can escape your body (it escapes through your pores). So this was the beach we would play at. It was a nice white sand beach with a jungle behind it, where there were lots of monkeys (I guess they can be a little vicious so we didn't go play with them).

We would just swim around, talk, and if your Travis or Sandee try to climb up the dock made of rocks.

The water was so clear you could see so many fish above the surface as well, they didn't really come up to the beach but as we were coming in we would see some cool ocean life. We saw some Eagle Rays this one time.

My mom is so stinkin cute! She HATED this picture but finally agreed to let me post it. I had to because I love her smile and messy hair as she is getting ready to dive, it just captures the moment so well.

Travis was right at home in the water, he has been scuba diving since he was twelve. He always went on a live-aboard with his dad, brother, and friends every summer around Catalina.

This diving was so different though, I went with them the first summer after we were married. It was so much fun but it didn't even compare to the diving here. The water here in Cozumel was in the 80's the whole time, so you didn't need those ultra thick wet suits, the clarity was so much better and everything was just so much more colorful. It is just so gorgeous down there! In Catalina the guys have a spear gun and they like to hunt some of the fish but that wasn't allowed here, and I'm sure if Travis did shoot the fish my aunt Marilyn would shoot him with a spear gun.

Gary and Troy rinsing off their gear

My husband is so hot I was just taking pictures of him rinsing off our gear when he wasn't aware of it :)

I mean he makes that farmers tan look GOOD!

He's such a babe!

We would do two morning dives, then come in for lunch, and go back out for two more dives. After that a lot of times we would go relax in the pool for a while. They had an outside bar where they would serve you fruit, nacho's, other snack foods, and drinks. We always got Virgin Pina Colada's, mango or strawberry daiquiris. Travis couldn't decide so he got two smoothies.

This picture made us laugh because of Travis's expression. He will be the new poster boy when you fly into Cozumel. It was so funny because right as you are exiting the airport they have this huge billboard of John Travolta striking this pose, "Welcome to Cozumel". Well little does he know this will be the new alluring face to welcome you here!

So another fabulous plus was that they had amazing desserts for breakfast... lunch... AND dinner!

I don't think I went one meal without dessert. These were some of my faves. The dark chocolate cake was so dense and rich, my favorite! The coconut creme cake was another favorite that is here too.
We woke up to a beautiful rainbow the next morning. Unfortunately by the time I went back to get my camera and through the morning dew that was on the window you can't see it very well, just take my word for it - it was pretty :)

In the mornings we would just get our suits on (and our hats, a hat was pretty much the best invention ever because with the humitity and my hair always being wet I would have looked like a crazed poodle who just needed to be put down) and we would meet everyone down for breakfast at 7.

Sandee, me, Troy

There were just so many options that we ended up just getting everything. Drinks of every color, one was a passion grapefruit type drink, another was tangerine, and another was a cactus drink (it was actually really good).

I love this picture!

Dipping my toes in the water

My aunt Marilyn is too cute!

A view of our resort as we are boating away

When your in such a paradise as this you can't help but feel the love in the air

We aren't good at making cute kissy faces for the camera, LOL!!!

Rhett and Sandee were on the boat with us the second day. On the spot I told them, "Quick, make a pose that is indicative of your relationship."

I love it! They are hilarious!
This is really how they roll

After our first two dives it was time for lunch again. I literally never felt a tinge of hunger the whole time, it was great!
Dessert for lunch!

When we were planning this trip my uncle Ron and aunt Marilyn explained that we could do four dives a day. I thought that was WAY too much and told them I would like to take breaks and things, I didn't love diving that much. Well as it turns out I would have LOVED to dive every minute of every day, it was seriously THAT incredible but I thought that I should take a break to see what Cozumel had to offer and I didn't want to over do it. So us girls decided to give ourselves a break from diving to go shopping.
We had to stop by the snack bar to grab fresh fruit and snacks before we left.

I had so much fun shopping through all the shops but there was this one shop that had it all, I went a little crazy! I got all these cute accessories and fun things for our girls.
Walking through Cozumel

me, Angela, mom, Sandee

Sandee, sporting her adorable new ear rings

I love how colorful all the building are


That night we joined the gentlemen for dinner

The sunset was this bright pink but this doesn't do it justice, if I had a sweet editing program I could reinvent it a little better

The coolest part of our trip I couldn't capture because I don't have the underwater equipment to take pictures down on our dives. If I did have a camera you would be guaranteed more pictures than you would ever want to see. My awesome Uncle Ron got this new video camera that shoots in high def and plays on a Blu Ray player that he used for the first time on this trip. I can't wait to see the video and relive all these amazing experiences. No matter how great the video you can't fully love and appreciate it as much as you could really being down there.
Another big breakfast

Uncle Ron was keeping a dive log of all our dives, what we saw on each of the different dive sites.
I wish I would have done the same thing but since I didn't I'll just write down a most of the things we saw. I also downloaded some pictures of the fish, I tried to find pictures that most resembled the ones we saw. These pictures said they all were taken in Cozumel too :)

We saw nurse sharks (four, well the guys and aunt Marilyn saw six), you know I always thought I would be scared out of my mind when I saw a shark so I was so surprised when I saw the first one this feeling of awe came over me and I almost forgot to breathe. They are this pretty light gray color, they were amazing to watch.

We saw a lot of grouper fish, they were pretty big fish.

I LOVED the sea turtles, they were the other ones that took my breathe away because they move so gracefully. We saw two that were HUGE. Such peaceful beautiful creatures.

We also got to see quite a few sea horses. They blend in with their surrounding and are really small, I guess the ones we saw were really big as far as sea horses go. They were so awesome to find, we saw them in green, orange, red, and yellow, SWEET!

We saw a lot of angel fish, three different kinds. They were so beautiful.

We saw three different kinds of eels. Actually out of everything we saw in the ocean these scared me the most. The first one I saw was underneath this huge rock so I had to get at an angle where I could see it and it made me loose it for a second, it looked like something out of tremors. I inhaled a little bit of water for a second, not because it did anything but it startled me with how huge it was and how it was in a dark leery corner. Then the second eel I saw was a spotted moray eel and it was so crazy because I was like the fifth one to come up to see it and when it saw me he starred right at me and was slowly moving out of the rocks toward me (not out of his hole but it sure felt like it). So I held onto Travis and hid behind him on his tank and the eel went back. When we got up out of the water my mom was like, "Wow, that guy wanted to eat you he must know that your sweet or something". So it wasn't just me that noticed!

The drum fish was so cute! It seemed a little skittish when you tried to follow it or watch it but they always move in a figure 8 so they don't really go anywhere so they're easy to just sit and watch.

Splendid toad fish, so interesting looking


Lots of crabs and lobsters

I got to see an Octopus too! I was the only one who saw the whole thing and I tried to get everyone's attention and by the time Travis came over he just saw its tentacles as it swam away. It was amazing, it blended right in with the coral and looked like it was almost purple and about a meter long, WAY cool!

This looks nothing like my octopus but I couldn't find anything that really resembled it. It seems like everyone tries to make all these fish look scary, it bugs me.
Lion fish, they actually aren't suppose to be in Cozumel.

Someone introduced them into this habitat and they are killing off some of the fish that are native to the area so the dive masters are told to kill them. Giovani, the other dive master had a spear gun that he would use on the lion fish when we came across them. He wasn't wearing gloves (which he should have been doing) and he went to pull it off his spear gun to feed another fish with it and the lionfish stung him! I guess it's like 20 bee stings, ouch!
We saw a few wrays, the eagle wrays we saw while we were in the boat! I love watching the them swim, very graceful.

The cowfish was really neat. I wasn't on this dive but Luis put his hand under one and started rubbing his belly and the fish LOVED it, he was leaning into his hand and just sitting there content like a little dog. So cute!
We also did a ship wreck dive that was really awesome.
We went through all the different rooms, even sat on the toilets! It was really fun, but I have to say that there is a big difference between man made and God made. Man cannot replicate the beauty found at the other sites.

These were just some fun pictures of the reefs in Cozumel.

Some of the fish that we saw a lot

I am surprised at how I wasn't scarred at all, it seemed like everything in the water was way more scarred or unsure about us then we were of them. It seemed like some of them were just curious and others would just watch you with a weary eye. The swim throughs were some of my all time favorite dives because they were these beautiful coral caves with all these lights shining through all the openings that lit up the whole thing. Everywhere you looked it was gorgeous, above, below, to your side, at every angle. The tops of the corals were so colorful with so much life everywhere, if you would ever stop in one place you were sure to see all this life there. It seriously feels like you are flying or gliding over these colorful gorgeous mountains and you have the best view EVER! Experienced divers keep their hands still and in front a lot, to conserve energy and oxygen but I couldn't help spreading my arms out wide and feeling like I was flying. I was in awe of it all. I had the hymn, "All Creature of Our God and King" in my head. During some of our vacations I tend to get too wrapped up in the activities we are doing to really spend the time I should be spending on spiritual things. On this vacation my testimony grew and these dives were a spiritual experience for me in a lot of ways, seeing the amazing creations of His hand. He gave all this to us because he loves us, he created the Earth and everything in it for us. I am so grateful for this experience I was able to have and I am especially grateful for my Father in Heaven and Savior who are so aware of me and whenever I truly look I can see Him and His Hand in everything.
I love scuba diving :)

There were just gorgeous flowers everywhere, I stopped to take a picture of this flower after breakfast and everyone stopped to see what I "found", like I found some exotic animal or something. Nope just a flower :)

Here are some more pictures from us playing in the water during an interval time.
Luis and Uncle Ron talking

I love this picture of my dad and Uncle Ron.

I told Gary to run in and pick up his cute little wife, Uncle Ron jumped in and threw her right up into the air for a shot. Can you just tell how awesome and fun these guys are!!!

Gary holding his wet suit woman!

The spark is definitely still alive!

Our amazing dive master and friend, Luis!

You get to know your dive master REALLY well on a diving trip. Your with them for most of the day the whole week you are diving. I haven't had a dive master before so I didn't know if Luis was an exception dive master in comparison to others but I know that he helped make the whole experience really special for us. Taking time to show us everything we wanted to see and a lot of things we didn't know there was to see. He went at the perfect pace for each of us and seemed to really care about us and our experience. I really do consider Luis to be a friend, he was AWESOME!

"Quick make a pose that is indicative or your relationships together"

I think they were going for PASSION what do you think ;)

This is my favorite picture of Trav and I.

Throughout our meals the conversation never stops. The guys will get into all these deep conversations debating the points of controversial topics. Travis for the most part just likes to listen and hear the different sides to whatever they are discussing

The double strength glue that holds both families - Marsha and Marilyn

This was another place where we spent our interval time

Gary, Rhett, Marilyn, Marsha, Travis, Nicole, and Chad

There are under water signs for the different things you see underwater but a lot of them don't have signs so my Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Ron have come up with signs to use under water. There was a tiny shrimp that was popping in and out of the reef and Marilyn pointed down at the shrimp to show Rhett and made the sign that she is making above (the one her and Ron made up for shrimp). He looked down and couldn't see anything so Marilyn did it again, made the sign and pointed. So Rhett was like well I can do that too, he pointed out at nothing and did a little dance and repeated. Aunt Marilyn started laughing so hard she got water in her mask.

Ron went into the water to relieve himself and I quickly snapped a picture, he was like, "Really?"

When your in a wet suit that is just how it's done. The expression of peeing your pants when you see something is literal when diving.


More pictures of food:
Artichoke hearts


Octopus, I didn't try this one. Anything that still has it's tentacles intact weirds me out.

These on the other hand I tried PLENTY of, the cream puffs and this peanut butter dessert were addicting.

A HUGE highlight of the trip was the company, every night every couple gave a little devotional that we would all discuss together. It was so fun especially because all the Tenney's are pretty much the best conversationalists on the planet.

One of my favorite meals was always breakfast. Burrita was the one that would make the omelets, she was always so happy and cheerful. She would make your omelets however you wanted them. I loved mine with mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers, turkey, and fresh goats cheese, YUMMM!

These are the pictures from our balcony, such a pretty view!

It was especially pretty at night when everything was all lit up

So much greenery everywhere you turned

On our way out to different dive sites we would usually pass all the cruise ships. There were always passengers from all the different ships in town.

It was so great being in a speed boat, there boats that carry a big crowd of people take more than double the time to get to a dive site and get out and you get about half the time diving as you would if your in your own boat. We got twice the diving in, we got to see what we wanted and go at the pace we wanted to - THIS IS THE WAY TO DIVE!!!

Me and my amazing mom!

I loved getting to spend all this time with my mom, I am so blessed to have her. She has been my greatest role model and person that I could confide in throughout my life.

I loved being able to share in all this with my parents, they are the BEST!

The beautiful smooth water

Our studly men


During one of our interval breaks we stayed in the boat to find all this marine life that is hidden in the algae.

We would look to see what we could find, then Luis would scoop up some of it in his 5 gallon bucket. Then we would take out all the algae and see what was hiding in it.

This was a little shrimp

There were quite a few tiny crabs

A little File Fish

Then Travis saw something move so they got it out with the bucket. It was this type of FROG FISH

It blended in perfectly with the algae. No one had seen this type of frog fish before, it was really awesome!

It has this lure that hangs in front to catch it's food and its all spiky looking


Travis with his prize catch. All the dive masters were passing it around to see it because they hadn't seen this fish before.

I had to get a picture of us with all our gear on

Luis, Nicole, Travis, and Smiley (yeah, I know ironic since he's the only one not smiling here)

Luis, dad, mom, Smiley

The other boat, Gary, Giovani, Ron, Marilyn, their captain, Troy.

Catching some lunch

Then a few of us went out to see the town. Us girls were all wearing hats so I had to get a picture of us before we left.

Hats were lifesavers!

Travis got himself some sweet shades at the flea market

The Flea Market

Sandee was taking a load off after all this shopping. She was tempted to buy the chair and fly it home as her carry on ;)

HUGE chair, Angela looks like Thumbelina

There was more than enough room for two

Troy totally rocks the whole European look. Only he could pull off those shorts, he's such a stud!

The Tenney boys after their last dives of the trip

Everyone chatting in the lobby

Our last dinner at the resort

Then the next morning we were up, packed, and ready to go by 5:30AM (4:30AM our time). We had to catch the 6AM ferry to Cancun.

Us on the ferry, it was such a big ship!

Arrived in Cancun

The beach in Cancun

We had a van that took us everywhere, this is it packed to the hilt with all our luggage.

We first were dropped off at our hotel, where Rhett, Gary and Angela stayed until it was time for their flight to take them back to the states. The rest of us left to go snorkeling with the WHALE SHARKS!

We had the boat all to ourselves and left right on schedule.
Travis is a little white boy, he had to reapply sunscreen three times each day. Having a sunburn can ruin your whole vacation and he started getting a burn after our first day out on the water all day so he was really careful for the rest of the time.

We were all so excited to see the whale sharks. It took us just over an hour to get there on the boat.

Beto, he was the one that would snorkel with us. He got himself a really good workout this afternoon.

My twin ;)

Sandee and Marilyn

Our faces are all shiny from the delightful sunscreen

The water was beautiful... and a nice picture of everyone snacking

The much awaited view! THE WHALE SHARKS

Whale sharks are the worlds largest fish, measuring up to 45 feet in length.

Not a picture I took but I wanted to get a picture of it under water. The whale shark is a filter eater, they don't have teeth. They just open their mouths and eat plankton and other little fish and plants. Gentle Giants.

Getting excited to go in and swim with them!

This is Sandee and Troy (and Beto our guide, he has the red snorkle).

Me and Travis

I love this picture of my dad (he kind of looks like he's a cheerleader here), mom, Aunt Marilyn, and Uncle Ron

Sandee and I went together for a swim.

The beautiful twins

We each got to swim with them as long as we could handle, it was AMAZING!!!

At one point I was swimming with three whale sharks, there were so many of them! It was incredible!

It was kind of funny because on one trip out I was so facinated watching the whale shark to my right, starring at his enormous gills opening and closing, all the fish that swim around and under them (picking up the peices of food that miss the sharks mouth). And just starring at the enormous animal when I felt this tug on my fins. I looked back and saw Beto trying to get my attention and pointing in front of me, I turned to look and saw another huge whale shark coming at me head on with his mouth open. I hurried and moved out of his way. The shark probably would have just moved if I didn't, it was just funny.

This is a video taken on the surface, so you can't get the full effect of the Whale Sharks, but you get an idea of how it was done. It was such a BLAST!!!
When we had no energy left we started to leave, I think we were each reluctant to leave but knew we were each done.

They had some fruit, sandwiches, and drinks we were eating. The sandwich was a triple decker and my Aunt Marilyn ate it! She hadn't eaten straight up bread for 10 months, so it was a big deal!

I didn't even eat all the bread, it was a bit much if you ask me.

Directly after eating we all CRASHED! It was funny because I was just laying there for a minute and looked around myself and saw everyone was already out, so I had to take a picture of everyone. Everyone just fell asleep in the funniest positions
Troy and Marilyn

Ron, holding his wife's feet

Sandee getting out of the sun, she got a really bad burn


Then I crashed, and apparently Travis woke up for a minute and looked around a took pictures of everyone asleep too, myself included.

My aunt Marilyn in the fetal position

My cute parents fell asleep on each other, they are the cutest couple! I love being able to see them so in love after so many years.

Then we arrived at this Island, I forgot what it was called but it was spanish for "The Woman's Island". Apparently if your man goes there he will not come back to you ;)

They made us some ceviche, oh I love that stuff. While we went snorkeling around the island.



My mom

Travis was WAY out there

I didn't snorkel because my ears were starting to bother me, but I had a gorgeous view while I was eating the ceviche :)

By the time we got back to our hotel that evening we each showered took showers, naps, woke to eat to a huge feast Aunt Marilyn and Sandee got us, had another devotional then went straight back to bed.

The next morning we had to say good bye. It was a bitter sweet thing, because it was such an adventure I was reluctant to leave it all but I could not wait to get home to our girls! I missed them SOOOO much!!!
Eating breakfast before we headed our separate ways.

That last night in Cancun Troy and Travis were in the same room and Sandee and I were in the same room (her man had to leave the day before because school started). So we had a little girl time

Another long flight home

Aren't my parents so good looking, even when their traveling.

Not enthused for the long hours of travel but it was a much better ride back home. We had TV's this time, it was a couple hours shorter, and it wasn't a red eye flight :)

I love getting to look through all these pictures and videos and relive it all. I think I have looked through these pictures a billion times because it was all so AWESOME! I made so many memories that I will treasure forever. I am so grateful for my Uncle Ron who planned it all out and allowed us to come with them and experience this. Every person made the trip so incredible, every day felt like Heaven on Earth with the exception of a few missing people. Hopefully some day we'll be able to do something like this again with my whole family. I would have ZERO qualms with doing this again, even if it is somewhere else entirely. Scuba diving is my favorite :)