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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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September 2021    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 47, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Dream Diving Job in Mexico; no visibility, surrounded by the detritus of human life

from the September, 2021 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Do you like nachos with beans and jalapenos? Are you looking for a job scuba diving full-time? Something suitable for someone approaching retirement age? Julio César may be holding just the job that you're waiting for, but you never know: The post might become vacant soon.

Julio César is Mexico City's chief - and only - sewer line diver. He spends a lot of time immersed in viscous, smelly sewage, and judging by Mexico's predilection for spicy foods, it could be riper than anything you could imagine.

On a typical day, this diving hero is submerged in the stuff for up to four hours while he performs essential maintenance work and removes foreign objects and other matter that could block Mexico City's otherwise fragile sewage system.

Of course, he wears a toxic-chemical-proof heavy-duty Viking drysuit and is protected by a Kirby Morgan diving helmet. Otherwise, the 62-year-old diver wouldn't have lasted the 30 years he's been doing this job. But it still proves less than appealing as he searches out domestic appliances, condoms, children's toys, car parts, dead animals and all the other strange items that end up in the Mexican underground stew.

You'd think that coming across dead bodies (or parts of them) would be the zenith of gruesomeness, but Julio reckons it's not the hardest part of his job. He says it's completely losing visibility at a depth of only four inches. He says he's tried underwater flashlights but they don't help.

Although he was an experienced scuba diver before he took the job, he reckons diving in the ocean is worlds apart from diving in Mexico's garbage-clogged sewers.

He says he is unable to swim in the sewers and instead has to drag himself along, always aware that glass, nails or any unseen foreign object could perforate his suit and him with it, leaving him with debilitating hepatitis or worse. But apparently, he thrives on that fear, and even says he has his dream job. It's given him the opportunity to have intimate knowledge of Mexico City's dark underbelly.

For him, it may be a dream, but it's what I call a bad dream. One slip by Julio, and a job opportunity might arise for you. Each to his own, I say. I'll stick to going on vacation and writing about diving!

- John Bantin

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