Saturday, September 27, 2008


The trip to Cancun was... well, it was mixed. Despite this being ostensibly a food blog, I can't say that I have a lot to report on the food front. At least, nothing fun. Cancun, or at least the area in which I was staying, seems to be very resort-oriented--much to the detriment of one's dining options. There are few restaurants outside of what's located in the hotels, and what restaurants there are were not enticing. Most of what I ate was fair-to-middling; nothing to write home about, even the one Yucatecan meal that I had. It's a curious setup. There are tons of hotels with restaurants, but they seem to count on people not venturing much outside their own hotel, and the quality of the food reflects that laziness. Even though you would think that with so many hotels in the area, the competition would drive quality up (in at least some of the restaurants). 

I was as guilty as any other of staying close to home for food, but I like to think that I have a bit more of a reason. As much as I wanted to venture outside the tourist zone and go sample food at the markets (which would have required a substantial cab ride, if I'm not mistaken--the hotel zone is set quite apart from the rest of the area), the last thing I wanted to do in the last few days before a big race was to take my chances on food that might or might not provoke an unpleasant reaction. Same with doing lots of walking around out in the sun and heat: not wise right before a big race. 

What did sound like a reasonable thing to do, at least two or three days before the race, was scuba diving. This ended up being the highlight of my trip. It was my first time, and I was nervous. I'm rather terrified of not being able to breathe, and the prospect of something going wrong when I'm 30 feet below the water's surface was not a pleasant one. But the instructor was great, and since the other people who had signed up for the beginners' class didn't show, I essentially got a private lesson. First: theory. Next: in-pool practice. Finally: two dives in a national park. Strangely enough, as soon as I started down the descending line, I was no longer nervous. It had all evaporated, and I was clearing my mask as casually as if there weren't 30 feet of water between me and open, breathable air. Just as well, as I was better able to enjoy all of the great fauna around me. And fauna there definitely were. Fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors; sea turtles; sting rays; barracudas; lobster; puffer fish; and sharks! We saw two nurse sharks: one about four feet long, the other about six feet long, neither of them more than 10-15 feet away. Very, very cool--and frankly, the scuba diving is probably the only reason I'd go back to Cancun. Even then, I'd probably go to nearby Cozumel instead.

But scuba diving wasn't the reason I took this particular trip. And in the end, the real reason wasn't nearly as much fun. I knew ahead of time that it was going to be hot and muggy--it would take the dawning of another ice age for Cancun to have mild weather in September--but I didn't really appreciate just how much the heat and humidity would affect me. A half ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run) isn't easy in the best of conditions, and in the ones we had, it's downright beastly. I wasn't the only one who had a rough time--in the days following the race, everyone the Suitor and I talked to said it was the most brutal race they'd ever done. We finished, but I was overheating by the end of the bike ride, and halfway through the run I was showing signs of heat exhaustion. The Suitor, bless him, saw that I was in trouble and rather than finish the two or so miles he had left, accompanied me on the four or so that I had left. 

Anyway, we survived, and I learned a good lesson: no more races in climates so wildly different from my own. And I wound up with some pretty good race pictures:


Supersaps said...

Awesome pic!!! You look hardcore. Sorry to hear about the heat exhaustion --glad you recognized it and took care of yourself.

I was really interested to read your account about scuba diving for the first time. I love snorkeling and being in the water, but the idea of diving terrifies me (I, like you once did, also have this fear of being 30 feet below water and something going wrong, only then I wouldn't be able to come up fast for fear of the bends....)

Anne said...

Thanks! The diving, seriously, was awesome. And when we went snorkeling the day after the race (after I'd already been diving), it was really anticlimactic. It just wasn't as much fun. Now that I'm back, I can't wait to get my PADI certification. I'm still nervous, generally, about coming up too quickly and running out of air and so on, but the ease I felt once I was actually down there and doing all the things I was supposed to do helps a lot. Oddly enough, I was more anxious practicing in the pool than I was once I got out into the open ocean, even though in the pool all I had to do was stand up to reach air.

Supersaps said...

I've heard similar things from others --they once feared diving, but after trying it, now love it, and think snorkeling is boring. I should maybe give it a try one day.