Thursday, April 05, 2012


You can see the ladder down one "mouth" in the rear
and Scott looking up from a second.
This is the boca to jump into!
And here's Scott mid way
Cenotes are entrances to underground pools created by the collapse of limestone over time. There are many in the Yucatan and they are the source of water for this region. Many, especially on the coast, are connected by underground rivers, some with the ocean. Diving to explore has become a popular sport here. Local Mayans have created small businesses providing "easy" entrance to them for tourists. We went to two that were on the opposite extremes of development. The first was at Dzitnup, near Valladolid and the second Siete Bocas, near Puerto Morales.
We visited Dzipnup twice, once with Russ Wolf and then again later with our friends John Magruder and Brenda Free. A local Collective/Coop runs this facility and they must have got assitance from the government. There is a big entrance structure with ticket booths, bathrooms, and changing rooms. The parking lot has guards but you will be met by tiny children asking for a tip to watch your car (they will not watch your car nor do they need to but they are adorable). And then there is another large structure filled with vendors and crafts for sale on the way to the Cenote. Small snack restaurants are also available. It's a big operation. The stairs down to the water are carved out of rock and the pool is lit by colored lights both above and below the water.
I'm hoping that you can see something by making these two photos bigger. I had to use manual without a tripod.
This is the Cenote at Dzitnup
The pool is very large and far underground. The water, clear and cold, feels wonderful after the heat outside. Sunlight streams through a hole centered over the water and plays on the stalactites and roots that hang from the roof. What a scene! It's hard to take a picture so you'll excuse my poor shots (I used manual setting and the best steady hand available).
The Seven Mouths is the opposite. A large sign marks the access road off the paved "highway". It's at least a mile of narrow rutted dirt. We thought we'd made a mistake for sure but there was another car behind us and no room to turn around (luckily no one came the other direction). Once there we sighed in relief. There was a parking area and a palapa hut. A mother with her two small children were the staff here. Rude wooden benches and a few tables were scattered around the grounds. A rickety ladder led up to a treehouse and others went down holes in the ground, accessing the cenotes. This was an adventure.

There was a "surf board" and an inflatable raft for those who needed it and life jackets, which they try to make you wear (just discard it before you descend). The fun here was exploring this underground maze. The seven entrances are connected, some with only inches of air space above your head. But they are all open to the air, so you can see light from one to the other. One was wide open and we discovered when a group of young people showed up that you can jump in. It's about 20 feet down so your stomach seems to take longer than the rest of you. This cenote is "bottomless" according to the woman attendant. It was a lot of fun.
Which is what we're having here in Mexico. Wish you were all here.

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