I’m rusty. Really rusty. My last dive trip was in 2010; this is my first trip for Sport Diver and I feel like a newbie gearing up to check out the Underwater Museum (MUSA) off Isla Mujeres and Cancun, Mexico. The week’s going to include some amazing experiences — today we dive at MUSA, tomorrow is a whale shark snorkeling adventure; then we’ll hit a cenote on the way down to Cozumel, where we’ll spend most of our bottom time. But today is the museum, and I’m considering it something of a checkout dive. I’ve got two very capable buddies and I’m ready to go when we hit the water. The museum was conceived by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who’s also responsible for the awesome underwater sculpture park in Grenada. It will eventually include 400 pieces, all made of environmentally neutral concrete, and each meant to serve as an artificial reef. The entire museum sits in about 25 feet of water, and we drop in first at a cross, which today is home to two playful French angelfish, which dart in and out of the opening in its center.
After spending some time there, it’s on to The Dream Collector, a sculpture of a man at a desk, with his dog at his feet. Residing in shelves under the desk are dozens of sealed bottles, each containing real messages from Cancun residents. Next it’s a swim — be warned, the sculptures are a fair distance apart, so you’ll get an underwater workout — to my dive buddy’s favorite statue, the Man on Fire. That’s me pictured with him. There are over 75 holes drilled throughout the sculpture, which have been seeded with fire coral, and from whence he gets his name. Next we cruised over a VW bug with a figure huddled on its windshield, and finally ended up in a garden of figures, all based on residents of Cancun, and all covered in algae. After over an hour of bottom time, I felt pretty good, though regretting not wearing a full wetsuit. As far as checkout dives go, I don’t think it could have been better. Tomorrow, whale sharks!