Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cenotes!

Yesterday morning Whit, Jan and I were discussing what might be fun to do. Whit asked if I had ever swam in a cenote and I said, “No, but I have wanted to for years”! Well, that is what we will do! We checked the map and found an interesting cenote about 40 KM away. Norma wanted to walk to the mall to buy a bathing suit and is not into caves anyway so the three brave adventures set off in the Mazda.
We set the GPS for the small town of Cuzama, where the cenote was. We ran into a small problem as the GPS did not know about a new road that was just put in and we were led in and out of several small towns along the way but that was all part of the adventure and after about an hour and a half, we were in Cuzama. There was a sign that indicated we should continue along the road and a few minutes later we arrived in the small Mayan town of Homun “Ho moon”. On the main road just past the center of town was the “Restaurante Cenote”.  This looked promising!
We pulled into the parking lot where we were greeted by Victor, a young Mayan who explained that there was one cenote right there that we could visit but if we wanted the full experience, we should hire him as our guide and he would take us to  five cenotes! The cost would be ten pesos (seventy five cents) per person to visit and swim in each cenote and that money goes to the landowner or caretaker of each cenote. Jan, who speaks Spanish, asked him how much he would charge for his services and he gave the standard Mayan answer of, “After we are done, you pay me whatever you think my services were worth”. After a quick conference we had a guide, which as it turned out, was very smart. He took us to places we could never have found on our own! We first had a quick look at the first cenote beside the restaurant. It was spectacular and inviting but we decided to save our swim for the next one.
Victor piled all three of us into and onto his tiny motorcycle tricycle and off we went. Well, for a couple of blocks  anyway when we all realized it was not going to carry the combined weight of  all four of us! He stopped at a friends where he borrowed a larger motorcycle and we tried again until it ran out of gas and developed clutch problems. He stopped a friend and asked him to take us to the next cenote and to wait there for him. He arrived right behind us on his own small motorcycle. They decided that I would ride on one while Whit and Jan would ride on the second. We now had a guide and a driver!
The photos are all courtesy of Whit.
Broken down!
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Happy Croft in his own tricycle! You can see why he was having clutch problems with three of us in it!
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It’s a long way down and that ladder is steeper than it looks!
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This cenote was great for swimming. The water was crystal clear and up to 15 meters deep. It was a great experience! Jan, Croft and Victor, our guide.
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One of the cenotes was a series of caves. To get into the last one, we had to swim/float through a tiny opening in the wall. I am a little larger than the average person and at least twice the size of our guide so I had a very good look at the opening before I decided to try it. Victor went first, followed by Whit. He made it with no problem so Jan was next. She did the “face down” transit with her nose forced pretty close to the water! It was now my turn and I did the “face up / float through on back” method. I got through!
Whit was first:
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Then Jan:
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Finally Croft! (With Whit saying, “If you get stuck and plug the hole, I will kill you”!)
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It was worth the squeeze! The water looks shallow because it is so clear but it is actually over four meters deep!
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Our day was over far too soon and It was time to head home. We had a quick conference and decided to pay Victor $400 pesos. This is a generous amount but out of that he had to pay his friend for driving us. He told us we should eat in the “Restaurante Cenote” and that they had really good Mayan food. We explained that Norma was waiting for us in Merida and she would be worried as it was getting dark. We shook hands and Victor asked us to tell our friends about the cenotes in Homun as they are trying to attract more tourists. His pride in and knowledge of his area was very obvious throughout our visit. We then (mostly) followed the GPS back to Merida where Norma had dinner ready for us. It was one of the best days I have had in Mexico! I have stories to tell! Thanks Whit and Jan!

Map picture
From Wikipedia:
A cenote (English: /sɨˈnt/ or /sɛˈnt/; Spanish: [seˈnote] or [θeˈnote]; plural: cenotes; from Yucatec Maya dzonot or ts'onot,[1] "well"[2]) is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico and Central America, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwaterunderneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula, and some nearby Caribbean islands, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancientMaya for sacrificial offerings. The term derives from a word used by the low-land Yucatec Maya, to mean any location with accessible groundwater.

6 comments:

  1. Wonderful post and great information. Thanks!

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  2. Love it! Now I will have to try to find Victor one of these days! Those Baines are a lot of fun! Would you please hogtie them and bring them back? You'll have to hypnotize Jan so she forgets that she likes to play tennis, though.
    Kathe

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  3. Very cool...swimming in the cenotes is definitely a neat experience!

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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  4. You sound so very very happy. Glad you got that crossed off the bucket list!

    How did Norma's day go? Did she get a bathing suit?

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  5. wow what an adventure!!! Great day!

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  6. Sounds like a great day but I can just see you and three other people killing a little motorbike. You aren't a 'little larger' than most people, you are 'quite a bit' larger; I'm a 'little' larger. LOL Glad you didn't plug up the hole to the swimming hole, I'd miss your blog. Take care & have fun.

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