Mexico Life
Cu Cámara with diving gear. Cu Cámara with diving gear.

After 33 years, it’s still a dream job for diver

The man who keeps the sewage flowing in Mexico City's underbelly

It’s probably not everyone’s dream job but for Julio César Cu Cámara it’s the best in the world.

The 57-year-old diver singlehandedly maintains more than 12,000 kilometers of sewer lines in Mexico City.

For 33 years he has worked for Sacmex, the city’s water and sewer utility, cleaning pipes, sumps, pumping stations, dams and the city’s sewage system.

Cu’s main tasks entail removing garbage that accumulates in Mexico City’s underbelly.

“”We’ve found dead animals, pigs’ heads, appliances like fridges and microwaves, carpets, car parts, and even human corpses. We don’t know where they come from, but the sewer is really a different world,” said Cu in an interview with the newspaper Milenio.

From an early age, he enjoyed swimming and as a young man he decided to become a professional diver. It was during his training that someone told him about a vacancy at Sacmex, “and here I am.”

Cu was originally part of a team of four industrial divers. Hired in 1983, he has seen two of them retire after a series of accidents and a third lose his life in the line of duty.

Work under water is done blind as all visibility is lost just 10 centimeters below the surface. Cu identifies all obstructions by hand, running the risk of perforating his suit and cutting himself. “You can’t work with fear, so I entrust myself to God and carry on.”

Despite those conditions and the constant danger, Cu believes his is the best job in the world.

The veteran diver said that he feels complete performing a job he loves, and even though he has reached the age at which he could retire, he has no intention of doing so any time soon.

“Under water I feel calm, there’s nothing like it. I’ve developed a different instinct,” said Cu, who is currently training a young diver who will inherit “ an exceptional workplace.”

The sole member of the new generation of industrial divers hired by Sacmex will also inherit Cu’s three-centimeter-thick specialized diving suit, imported from Norway.

The training for Cu’s position will take five years and cost the city US $25,000, with an additional $14,500 to be spent on diving equipment.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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