Travel Bliss Interview Series:
As part of my Interview Series wherein each month I feature two interviews with people from around the world – who may be a home-maker, a traveler, a blogger, or a biker or a painter or a potter or an entrepreneur or a writer or just about anyone who have chosen to follow their bliss against all odds, let me introduce you to the very charming couple: Dominic and Lia Evans, who are cave Divers and underwater guides in the Cenotes. They run their blogging website for diving under Best Cenote Dives. They also do Mayan Immersion Tours, wherein they introduce people to Mayan culture and run a separate website for it at Mayan Immersion.
Wow..this interview has not even begun, and it has already got interesting 🙂
1.Tell us about yourselves:
Dominic: Hi! I´m Dominic, from London, England. I studied Mechanical Engineering at University and had a career in property sales in London before I left to follow my dreams of becoming a diving instructor.
Lia: Hi! I’m Lia from the Ardeche region of France. I used to work for GRT gas as Assistant Project Director building gas pipelines. I went travelling in 2011 and met this British guy who impressed me with his intelligence. Since then we have been travelling the world. We have been working and diving in Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Egypt, Belize and now Mexico.
2.What inspired or motivated you to be a PADI Diving Instructor, Registered Cenote Guide, Cave Explorer and many more of the things you do?
Dominic: I have always loved the water. When I was younger I was a keen windsurfer. But I always thought I would be rubbish at diving because whenever I swam down deep it hurt my ears. I didn’t know how to equalize the pressure. So one day I was in the pub and I explained my predicament to a friend who had just done his Open Water course. He showed me how to equalize my ears, so I went to the pool, swam down and did it. The next week I signed up for my Scuba Course. Instructing, Guiding and Exploring are just the logical progression.
Lia: Dominic, he motivated me to do my course. I was scared. I only did the course to prove to him that I couldn’t do it. I have early memories of watching Jacques Cousteau on the television and thinking how crazy it all was. When I was 9 I saw cave divers going into a cave near my home in France. I never dreamed that one day I would be doing the same.
Dominic: When I passed her the equipment for the course she said “You do know I’m going to hate this, I’m going to panic and race to the surface.” We practiced the skills, all seemed fine so we went for a little dive at the end of the training session. When she came up and said “I want to be a Dive-master.” So I know I did a good job.
3. That’s awesome! How do you manage to do what you do?
Like Nike “Just Do It.”
Dominic: In 2001 I was living and working in the UK. I was stressed and depressed. I realized that I was only happy when I was diving. But I only went diving one week a year. So I was only happy one week a year. I did a quick calculation. I was in my early 30’s. I will probably be able to dive until at least early 60’s. So 30 years at one week a year, is less than one year of happiness in my life, but I will have to go through 30 years of being stressed and depressed to get it. I found this unacceptable; so I decided to make a change. I was always told, by my parents, to do whatever makes me happy. But we know that there are hidden conditions. We can do what makes us happy so long as we are;
- Making decent money
- Saving for the future
- Getting a career
- Growing a family.
So although Scuba Diving makes me happy and I loved the idea of becoming an Instructor, I had always disregarded the idea because they don’t earn much money and there isn’t much job security. So its interesting that most people view the decision to go out into the world as bold or courageous. It was actually a decision that came out of absolute fear that if I kept on doing the same things I was doing, I was going to wake up in 30 years time and realised that I had wasted my life away.
4. Nicely explained and I know exactly what you mean. Did you face any challenges / difficulties during the course of your journey? Please elaborate.
Yes, every day we face challenges life is hard. When you take the decision to change your life, you trade time for money. I used to have lots of money but no time to enjoy it, now I have time but not so much money. Life is challenging when you are brought up in a modern world with luxuries and you have to adjust to life with less. I think if I ask someone who is on their deathbed if they would rather have more money or time, they will say that time is more important, so I’m happy with my choice.
We live in the jungle. There are animals in the jungle. Snakes, spiders, scorpions and Jaguars which can pose certain health risks. But then we wake up with the birds singing, we see monkeys in the trees and there is always a new animal encounter to keep us on our toes. So there are good and bad.
As we live fairly remotely we aren’t connected to any mains services like gas, electricity or water. We have to carry gas tanks, fuel and drinking water. Our refrigerator runs on gas, we have a generator to pump water from the aquifer and the electricity comes from solar panels. These do not always work as well as they do in the real world. So if we run out of gas we loose hot water and the fridge, if we loose the generator we have no water and if its cloudy we have no electricity.
5.Any one lesson learnt or Dive moment you will not forget?
There are lots of lessons to be learnt in diving, lots of rules to follow. For us I think we would say that “Trust in yourself” is the most important lesson we have learnt. We have been in caves where we are squeezing into small spaces trying to find a way through. Dirt on the bottom gets kicked up so we can’t see anything. Discharged bubbles dislodge chunks from the ceiling that fall on us. It all gets a little scary. But we just follow our training grab hold of the line, turn around and follow it out again.
If you are in a cave, underwater, the rule is “Follow the line.”
6.Any words of wisdom / advice to all the people out there?
There are so many of us who have certain dreams or passions that we want to pursue, but are struggling within ourselves, are not sure or are second guessing and having doubts about it.
Lia: When I returned to France after meeting Dom, I was making my plans to quit my job, close down my life and leave, many of my friends cautioned me. They said, “What if you fail?” “What if you have to come back?” “If you leave you will loose what you have worked for.” My view was that I would rather try and fail than spend my whole life wondering “What if?” To learn to walk you have to fall, that’s how we learn.
7.What are you absolutely passionate about? And what drives you to achieving it?
We are passionate about life and living and diving, obviously.
We love nature and the Jungle. Our dogs, we have 5 rescue dogs that we have saved, we love them to bits.
Cenotes, caves and the ancient history contained within them. When we are exploring in a cave we always have a line to the exit. When we are the ones laying the line, we know that we are the first people that have been there for at least 6 thousand years. We have found bones of prehistoric animals. Maybe we will find something significant that could rewrite human history.
We are passionate about the Mayan people and their culture of both the people living here today and the people that have lived here for thousands of years.
8. Yes, which brings me to my next question, how did Mayan Immersion come about?
Lia: Just as diving, we also arrange tours into the jungle for people to learn more about the culture and nature of the region. We have been working in a cooperative with a group of families that live much further and more remotely than us. We have developed a range of tours for people to learn about different aspects of their way of life. So we have the classic Culture and Nature tour, the Mayan Cooking class and a 24 hour Immersion where visitors spend the night in the Mayan village. It is important for us to emphasize that the families have chosen to stay living in the jungle adopting a traditional way of life. We want to support them in that decision and we think that there are a lot of lessons that we can learn from their way of life. Equally there are many dangers for them that exist in the real world that we want to help protect them from. Another way we can help them is by selling their products. They make a variety of souvenirs using traditional crafting methods but its difficult for them to sell them from their current location. So we are opening a Mayan Immersion shop in the village of Akumal. It’s a tourist area so we are hopeful that we can promote the tours and sell their products. Mayan Immersion is a cooperative so the profits will be split equally. If you are visiting the Riviera Maya feel free to come in and see us. It’s in Akumal on the town side of the road. It’s on the right as you pull in. You can’t miss us. We will have a cool refreshing fruit juice waiting for you.
9. It sounds amazing and I’m sure it’s worth checking out! I think its great the way you are making an effort and going out of your way in supporting, preserving the traditional way of life of the Mayan culture as well as promoting it in your own way through personalized tours that respect the local Mayan people and the natural jungle!
How is life in the jungle like? Describe to us your one normal day in your life.
It’s beautiful. We wake up with the birds singing and have a cup of coffee. Then we walk the dogs. It’s crazy there are no boundaries for them. There isn’t a wall or a fence. They could just walk out but they don’t so we have to walk them. Our days vary. We could be Diving, Immersion tours, Exploring, working on the new shop or working from home. If we are doing tours we drive to meet the guests. Sort out any equipment then go off. Taking people diving in the Cenotes is an amazing experience. Everyone is impressed by them. The days can be long and hard work especially the heat of the hot and humid jungle. That means that when we settle down to enjoy a cool beer in the evening we are exhausted. But it’s a good kind of tired. We aren’t mentally drained or burnt out. Instead we are just feeling the effects of a job well done, we have happy customers. It’s so rewarding. It’s a complete world away from selling houses in London where nobody is ever happy.
10. What is your idea of Bliss? Are you following your Bliss?
We basically have it. I mean we are living the life we want to live. More money would mean we would have more security for the future. We would love to buy the land we live on. Then we could have rooms for guests to come and stay in. It would make us more self-sufficient. We would love to do more exploring. It would be amazing to find something of significance. Mayan artifacts or bones of prehistoric life that would have a real impact for society. It would be nice to do something of real significance for humanity and maybe change the world for the better.
Dive equipment. There is a joke amongst divers that you never tell your wife how much money you actually spent on the dive gear as it is often grounds for divorce. I don’t have that problem. The problem I have is that I have to buy two of everything so Lia can come too. The best gear is silly money so it’s something I can only dream of or hope that any equipment manufacturers reading this decide to sponsor us by giving us loads of free equipment.
We want to grow Mayan Immersion to a level where we are secure but as well the Mayan families that we work with have security going into the future.
Thank you Dominic and Lia for sharing with us your fantastic journey. Truly, your story, your life experiences are going to inspire all those reading this post and help them to give them the courage and motivation that they may have been lacking, in following their dreams! Here, I would like to specially mention, that I needed this inspiration more than anything else right now. I was beginning to doubt whether I had made the right decision or not, but your interview just erased all those doubts, and got me back into my game and I am sincerely very grateful and thankful to both of you for this!
I wish you all the very best in everything that you do and sincerely hope that you continue to follow your bliss.
Stay tuned for this space, as I come out with another smashing interview very soon
Till then, keep traveling and keep sharing your stories of inspiration here.