7 Days of Landscapes Photo Challenge – Day 4: Cancun Blue

View from the JW Marriott in Cancun - The shallow water is reflecting the sky, and the deeper ocean is a gradient from teal to indigo
View from the JW Marriott in Cancun – The shallow water is reflecting the sky, and the deeper ocean is a gradient from teal to indigo

This is a photo I took in 2012, in Cancun.  I hadn’t fully embraced the beach vacation concept.  I still felt that I had to DO SOMETHING on a vacation, so I had decided to get my SCUBA – PADI Open Water Dive certification.

About two weeks before I left for my trip I did all the book learning and test taking online.  I realized early on in the studying that I was not so much learning how to SCUBA, but really “how not to die”.  I studied very, very hard.  I passed my exams online, and was ready to do my practicals.

One of the things you learn when studying for your Dive certification is that you can’t go diving, then fly home within 12-18 hours…there are actually “dive calculations” that determine how long you have to wait before you can fly after diving.  Here’s why:

When you dive under water, the water creates pressure on you and the air you breathe.  Nitrogen is compressed out of the air you breathe, and dissolves into your blood stream.  The deeper you go, the heaver the water, the more your body is compressed, and the more nitrogen is dissolved into your blood stream.

When you ascend up to sea level, there is less water pressure compressing you, and less nitrogen is dissolved into your blood stream, and your body “offgasses” the nitrogen.

OK at 45ft deep - taken by dive photog.
OK at 45ft deep – taken by dive photog.

When ascending from depth we are taught to pause at neutral buoyancy (float at a specific depth) every 15 ft or so – it is just good practice.  These are called  “decompression stops”, and allow your body to offgas, or acclimate to lighter pressure.  My certification was for 60 ft deep and above, though I only went to about a 45 ft depth, and is considered within the “no-decompression” limits.   For any dives deeper than 60 ft, decompression stops must be planned and taken – otherwise bad things will happen.  Bad Things.

Not taking these pauses, thus allowing your body decompress, and offgas the nitrogen, will cause nitrogen to come out of solution in your blood stream, and form bubbles.  This causes decompression sickness, also known as the bends.

grouper fish...probably on his last fins - taken by dive photog.
grouper fish…probably on his last fins – taken by dive photog.

The bends can still happen once you finish your dive, and are on dry land, if you ascend to height too quickly without spending enough time at sea level.  Note I said “sea level” and not “ground” level.   If you dive, then surface and climb a mountain, you can still experience decompression sickness.

action shot! - taken by dive photog.
action shot! – taken by dive photog.

Whew!  Well that was just a long winded way to say that I made sure I got my practical dives and certification completed in the first three days I was in Cancun, so I didn’t have to worry about flying home.  Then I spent the remaining days staring out at the ocean…when I wasn’t exploring downtown Cancun, and the Hotel Zone for the best burritos and cocktails.

I can’t tell you how long I stood on my 11th floor deck staring at this view.  Probably till the sun went down – it was that mesmerizing.  I’d never seen such defined bands of color in the ocean like this.

The image at the top of this post almost seems like abstract art, but it is an unaltered photo.

The underwater photos were taken by the dive photographer that came with us.


7 Days of Landscapes Photo Challenge – Day 3: Teatro Greco, Taormina, Italy

Teatro Greco - The Greek Theater - Taormina, Italy 2014
Teatro Greco – The Greek Theater – Taormina, Italy 2014

The Teatro Greco is a Greek Amphitheater built on a hill in Taormina, Sicily Italy, not far from Catania.  The portion of the ruins you see in the photo were probably built by the Romans on top of a more ancient Greek structure of the amphitheater.

In the distance is Mt. Etna, which was at the time of my visit, an actively erupting volcano.

The town of Taormina is just a short walk away, and is chock full of historic architecture, shops, restaurants, and night clubs.  Since the town is built on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, the views are breathtaking.

I wasn’t in the area long – I had taken the bus from Catania to spend the day in Taormina.  I was alone initially, but as I got off the bus in Taormina, I started talking with a Chinese family who were just starting a vacation, and a Korean woman traveling alone, who was just finishing up her world travels before returning to Korea.

There were language barriers, but it was nice for all of us to share our first experience of a new town.  There is just something magical about sharing a new place with someone, even if it is a stranger.  In that moment you have forged a connection with another soul, and you are no longer alone in your experience.


7 Days of Landscapes Photo Challenge – Day 2 : Where I learned what you do on a beach.

El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort by Karisma
El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort by Karisma

This is where I learned what you do on a beach vacation.  Recline in the shade, and listen to the waves crash upon the shore, with a book, and no electronic devices.  This was a shocking discovery to me.

From the moment I took this photo in 2010, to present day, this is the lockscreen photo on my phone.  All the time.  I love it so much.

Back in 2010, I was just finishing up my first year in consulting, and my firm took the entire consultant contingent to Cancun for our annual meeting.  This was the best, most awesome, and incredible benefit from a job I have ever had.

Up to this point in my life, I’d always gone on adventure travel – museums, city walks, immersion in cultures – and this is still what I love.  This, however, was the defining trip that broadened my travel consciousness to include relaxation, spa and beach experiences.

So, what do you do on a beach?  Nothing, except allow the sound of the waves wash the mental static away.  For me, the sound of waves, the caress of the sea breeze, and soaking in the solar vitamin D  always make my brain feel fresh and clean.

This series of photos will have a few more seascapes…Enjoy!

Check out the TripAdvisor link below.  The photo above was taken at El Dorado Royale – wonderful place!

El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort by Karisma

Too many tourists in your travel photos? Here’s how to erase them!

I just found this post on Groupon, explaining how to erase those pesky tourists from your wonderful travel photos.

You need a camera on a tripod, or another way to keep the camera steady, while you take about 15 photos of the same scene.

Then you stack the photos and process them in Photoshop as instructed in the video… And voilà!

Check this out! I can’t wait to try it myself!

If you try it, post in the comments and let me know how it worked for you!

I’ll re-post once I try it myself!


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