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Published: November 15th 2019
Bye bye Mexican Mayflower Road - it’s been a real pleasure but it’s time to pack our bags, jump into the van-car we’ve hired with our friends Michelle and Enrico and off we go to our next stop Valladolid. But before we get there...Cenotes pit stop.
Mexico is full of natural beauty that’s unique to its climate and environment. Perhaps one of the most intriguing and stunning natural water reservoirs are the famous cenotes - translated rather blandly as sink holes. Trust me, they are so much more than a sinking hole. The first time I came across a cenote was 15 years ago with Maya when we were in Yucatan. I remember thinking that I’d never seen anything like it. Cenotes are a bit like a cross between a (stunning) cave and a (stunning) pond with trees as stalagmites and water the colour of the Caribbean. The temperature is just perfect both inside the water and out as the cave walls keep the humidity and heat from escaping. Every micro sound echoes inside the cave-like swimming pool making it even more atmospheric and magical. It’s no wonder the Mayans saw these hidden gems as spiritual offerings from
the rain God Chaak during long periods of drought, and up until fairly recently locals would get their drinking water from the Cenotes.
What we realised is that no two cenotes are the same. A bit like being in a sweet shop, we were presented with a lot of choices. You have the Cenote Azul which is the biggest in the whole of México, then you have open air cenotes reminiscent of European lakes or, my favourite, the covered cenotes that are deep underground and while they can make you feel claustrophobic on the descent, the open space once you touch down is insane and worth the 5 minutes of anxiety. That was my experience at least! I don’t think Marco felt any anxious feelings or claustrophobia by the look on his face.
Cenotes belong to the person whose land they are discovered on and so we had to pay a small fee to visit a trio of them. We saw that people were going there on horse and cart which we thought was a tourist attraction that we wanted to avoid but after speaking to various people it turned out that the horse
and cart were not only genuine but the only way to get to the sink holes which were deep inside the jungle. So we paid our money and mounted the rickety carriage that was actually on an equally rickety rail track being drawn by a poor old rickety skinny horse and our “guide” Rafa who made sure to warn us each time there was a sharp turn so we didn’t fall out of the cart!
This was the ultimate bone shaker but so so worth it. It took about 30 minutes to get to the first cenote so there was no way we could have walked it ourselves! The first one was called Chaksinniche and was 27 metres deep! It was half open so not scary. As the weather was a bit dodgy that day there were no other tourists aside from us and this Mexican American guy who joined us. We were lucky to have the whole cenote for ourselves as normally they get crowded like Brockwell Lido.
The second and third cenotes were more scary - you had to go down a metal ladder into a steep but narrow hole not knowing
how deep or what you’d find at the end. Marco went down first to check and came back up to tell me how amazingly stunning and airy it was once you got down there. So I gathered my courage and went. True to his word, it was amazing. There was only a slither of light filtering down from up above illuminating the water. I felt a bit like I was in a floatation tank. We snorkelled and saw little black fish but not much else. The bottom of the cenote is made of limestone so the water reflects beautifully off it. When it was time to head back up we realised it had started chucking it down with rain making it all the more atmospheric! We emerged as the heavens opened and darkened. Rafa told us to get back in the carriage as it was starting to get dark and the rain would slow us down. I felt a mix of elation and nerves as we started to head back totally soaked being splashed with mud and heavy rain. The way back took about 45 minutes and in that time we went from dusk to total darkness. It was such
a unique experience that I will forever remember topped by the sudden appearance of fire flies all around us. Thank you universe for sharing this with us 😊
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