I got back from Mexico yesterday. It was a truly exhilarating experience. We did 3 days of photo and video shoots at multiple cenotes, each one uniquely beautiful. The weather cooperated for the most part - rain moved through a few times, but fortunately the storms were mild and passed quickly. For the most part, the cenotes were empty of other swimmers or scuba people, but when others were there, they were very curious about my mermaid tail. We even encountered some tourists who live not too far from me, so the whole "small world" cliche definitely rang true here.
On our last day we did a series of dress photos underwater, like the others showcased on the Trésor de la Mer website. Brandon had some interesting ideas for this new set, so I hopped into the cenote with a flowing gown and pointe shoes. And by hopped, I mean gradually eased into the chilly waters over a period of ten minutes. The cenotes were warmer than the springs of Florida, but not so warm that I could just plunge in uninhibited. And we unfortunately still got cold after a couple hours and would need to get out to take breaks. But we spent much longer intervals in the water in Mexico than in Florida. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to do this, and so grateful to the friend who first showed me the beautiful spring photos during the summer of 2020 and introduced me to Brandon. It was truly the start of this unusual chapter in my life.
I always accept that people will be curious about what we're doing when we're shooting. We never rent out the springs or cenotes for private use, we just work around whoever happens to be there. We usually get an early start and most of our shoots happen early in the week, when the waters are typically less crowded anyway. It does become irritating when people just wander through when we're clearly busy though. Brandon and I just grit our teeth and either move to a new spot or hope they pass quickly. We did get a group of scuba divers watching us from underwater though, which was kind of funny. At the last cenote, Brandon had me positioned underwater just outside of a large underwater cave, and he did the photos from inside the cave. Later he told me that one time when he dove under and swam back, he saw a light, and thought "what the heck," until he realised the scuba divers were all gathered together watching us. Apparently they'd been exploring the deeper parts of the cave and decided to hang out and watch our session before resurfacing. Later when we were all out of the water, one of them called over to me saying the whole thing looked really cool. I was grateful to hear that; I never know what I look like until Brandon sends the pics over.
I spent 6 days in Mexico, with the final day fulfilling a lifelong dream - I got to hold a baby lion, tiger, and jaguar. There's an outdoor marketplace-type thing we visited in the evening, and there's an enclosed shop where wild animals are housed. In the front portion you can hold the babies, and if you pay an additional fee, you can go into the back portion to see the other animals. I spent $120 to hold the 3 babies but declined to go see the other animals, only because I'd put all my expenses on my credit cards throughout the trip and I was starting to lose track of my spending. I'm not that great at math and I couldn't remember the pesos-USD conversion rate. Still, holding those babies was so worth it! All the animals were very friendly so I guess they're being treated well. I held the lion cub first - he was so curious, and a little bitey - he actually gave little nibbles to Brandon's ankles and my shoe at one point. The little boogerface is probably still teething. While I was holding him he tried to lick my face. I don't think there was anything malicious about it but the trainers took him away at that point and gave me the baby jaguar. What a little cutie. I fed him a bottle, which I've never done before, and I'm terrible at it, lol. But he seemed quite content to sit on my lap and drink. After that I held a baby white tiger. The white tiger was a bit bigger than the others and he basically just climbed into my lap and began drinking from the bottle. It was an amazing experience and I am definitely doing it again if there are babies available when I go back to Mexico.
My covid test was negative so I flew home as scheduled. My hotel made the whole thing really easy - they have doctors who come to the hotel and do the rapid test in your room for a fee. Some hotels have onsite free testing. I was definitely grateful for that - I'd brought some self tests with me but the process was so complicated that I decided against using them. The self tests required registering with 2 different websites and having a doctor watch you over webcam while you administer it. I'd actually never been tested prior to this and I absolutely hate having anything up my nose so I wasn't looking forward to doing it myself. Fortunately I didn't have to.
I highly recommend visiting the cenotes of Mexico. Clear, perfect waters, and beautiful natural scenery. Mexico has fairly lenient travel rules and it's really affordable. Photos of me with the baby animals are on my Instagram - please follow - as well as some candids from the trip. As soon as Brandon finishes sorting through everything, I'll be adding pics from our shoots.