Swimming In Caves

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
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Day trip from Merida
What I did
cenotes

Flag of Mexico  , Yucatán,
Thursday, January 19, 2012

A day trip from Merida that everyone absolutely raves about is to the "cenotes" (pronounced "sair-nor-tairs").  Now it's my turn!
 
In English they are referred to as "sink holes". To the common (wo)man that means naturally occuring swimming pools in underground caves. It's a Yucatan phenomenon with cenotes scattered all across the peninsula. As an intro we headed for Cazuma to experience three in one go! Plus we heard the journey there was half the fun...

Aside - We delayed going by one day so that Lars could be free to join us. He's one busy man, that Lars! Ultra-chilled, ultra-smooth, making friends effortlessly wherever he goes. And he's gone many places! In fact, he was completing his tour of Latin America and was due to fly home to Switzerland later that week.

With Lars leading the pack and the rest of the G7 nations in tow we set off for Cuzama. There was Sheri from Canada (roped in last minute), Noelie from Belgium, Phil from Australia, Jose Angel from Venezuela, Mario from South Africa and Dee from er,.. the UK?

The journey consisted of:A 30-minute walk to the bus station including detours to ATMs and a convenience store. A 45-minute minivan taxi ride and yes, there was space for all and sundry (sundry being Phil's crutches!). Lars was propped onto a stool alongside two elderly ladies with whom he chatted merrily all the way to the one-horse town of Cuzama. 

Usual practice is being dropped at the town square where 2-passenger motorbike taxis will take you to "La Hacienda", the start of the actual cenotes journey. But our driver broke protocol, saw an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands! He offered (at an extra charge, of course) to take us all the way. With 7 of us (8 plus the Mexican tourist, Antonio) I guess it was worth his while, even worth potentially getting into trouble when the motorbike drivers found out!

It was here the real fun started... Boarding a "truck" that is really no more than a 4-man cart made of a few wooden planks nailed together topped by a Blackberry-sponsored canopy. Sad-looking horses draw the carts that struggle to balance on a single set of rails. I stand corrected. There is more than just one horse in this town! Ours faithfully trotted through the bushes and worked his way up to a canter at times. It was a bumpy ride, rattling our brains loose(r?) and mercilessly shaking our cheeks (both sets). But it was so worth it!
 
After ten long minutes we arrived at our first cenote. Two flights of wooden stairs led the way into a cave revealing a truly magical place. As Sheri put it "We made our descent into the depths of the earth. At the bottom of the relatively tame climb was a pool of water so warm and so clear that one would swear they are created for the soul purpose of providing bathing places for the angels. It is but a twist of odd luck that ever allowed mere mortals to discover them. But one is best not to question I find in these instances. Best simply to enjoy one's own great good fortune. So we did."

We got to swim beneath stalactites in the clearest water we'd ever seen, so clear you could see all the way to the bottom. The second cenote was as special as the first, but the third was in a class of its own. All it was at ground level was a hole in the ground with a ladder snuggly fitted into it (see pic). Only a few beams of light shone through cracks in the ground above. What an experience!

All too soon it came to an end. Our chariots await! Time once again to shake-rattle-and-roll, cos that's how we roll...(innit, Michelle?)

Occasionally we came across people who seemed abandoned alongside the rail road, standing next to their derailed wagon. It wasn't until our return along the same single set of tracks that we realised that wagons on their merry way to the cenotes have the right of way. That's why our horse could build up to a canter! But now it was our turn to temporarily derail our wagon again and again, making the return journey a lot slower and tedious but giving our body parts a much-needed break. Elvis said it best: "I'm all shook up!".

The motorbike taxis had clearly anticipated our arrival, just we hopped right on and scooted off to the town centre to wait for the minivan taxi back to Merida. The wait was a long one as you can tell from our Coca Cola pic. Seems like the start of a TV commercial: our cenote-wearied bodies propped up against the wall, waiting for the bus at the makeshift Mexican bus stop. Then suddenly bottles of Coca Cola drop from the sky straight into our hands. A gift from the heavens? The gods must be crazy! We take a few sips of the divine nectar and perk right up. A mariachi band appears and we start dancing in the streets with the townsfolk who come out to celebrate with us! Happiness and smiles all round brought to you by Coca Cola.
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Comments

Rebecca Pohl on

Wow!!! It really is amazing that someone discovered these. Can't wait to try them myself. I'll be sure to tag you in my pics. :)

thelees
thelees on

yes, please do!

michelle on

haha. cracks. Dawn? :-)

thelees
thelees on

si, swimming in dawn's crack...ew!

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