Guillermo "Memo" de Anda is a professor of anthropology at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Merída. He specializes in osteoarchaeology and is the coordinator of the university's underwater archaeology department--the only program of its kind in Latin America. Memo is also a certified cave diving instructor and used to run a successful dive tour operation in Cancun before giving it all up for the glamorous life of a university professor.
Memo currently has four students in the underwater archaeology program that are cave-diving certified or on their way to certification. From left: Victoria Rojas Garcia is writing her master's thesis on the continuation of the cenote cult in the northern Maya Lowlands in the Postclassic period. Diana Gutierrez Rivera, who has focused her undergraduate studies on Maya seafaring, enters the master's program this fall. Alejandro Perez Flores undergraduate work centered on identifying battle-inflicted wounds on skeletal remains, while Ricardo Escamilla Peraza's master's thesis centers on underwater evidence for the first settlers of the Yucatán Peninsula.
Dionisio Orozco, who hails from a Maya village outside Merída, is Memo's right-hand man. He handles seemingly every task, from filling tanks, to hoisting gear, to getting the inside tips on the unknown and un-dived cenotes in the area.
Pedro Tum Ortiz is Dionisio's nephew and assistant.
Photographer Melisa French and Geoffrey Young, a lawyer, have been cave diving since 1995 and met Memo at a technical diving class several years ago. The Florida couple became fast friends with Memo and join him several times a year as support divers on his explorations. Melisa is also the expedition's chief underwater photographer.
Melisa's 15-year-old daughter Alisa, who's been traveling to the Yucatán since she was six and diving since she was ten, joined the team to handle the topside photography.
James (left) and Patrick Dickson, contributed their underwater videography and photography skills to the team. Patrick, a 23-year-old senior at the University of South Florida, is a certified dive master. James, a 17-year-old rescue diver, attends high school at the Center for Advanced Technologies in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he specializes in television production.
Their father, Jim Dickson, a Florida diver and attorney specializing in environmental and construction law, reminds Memo that in the eyes of the ladder manufacturer, tying two extension ladders together to make a bigger ladder may not necessarily be the acceptable thing to do.
Managing editor Kristin Romey has a graduate degree in nautical archaeology. She surveyed and excavated ancient shipwrecks and settlements in the Mediterranean and Black Sea before joining ARCHAEOLOGY. Email her at email@example.com.