© 2015 by Belinda Woodhouse

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Holey Cenote!!

December 20, 2015

Hahahah see what I did there?? Oh, you may not know, sorry. A Cenote is a huge hole in the ground found in the jungle so that title IS funny. Now let me explain.

These amazing feats of nature are formed when an underground cave system grows stalectites so large and heavy the roof collapses. This creates a huge hole on the jungle floor as the ground disappears into the underwater realm of freshwater cave systems. A vast network of limestone freshwater cave systems run under Tulum in Mexico and surrounding areas.

 

 

 

Imagine being some poor little Mayan, out for his morning stroll and all of a sudden while you are looking in the treetops for a delicious bird to eat....aaaarrrgggh...you're in a hole ten or twenty metres deep. Underground. Bugger! And how do you get out of THAT back in the day? 

Bad for the poor Mayan. Good for us because honestly snorkeling in this underground system was one of the highlights of my life.

 

Descending down steep stairs into the Cenote with jungle below you, then eyelevel, then above and eyelevel is just weird and fantastic. Jungle now covering the caved in roof landing in a heap forming a small island. Boardwalks show you the way to a couple of differnt entrances into the water for your adventure to begin.

 Heart in mouth as you enter the water surrounded by such beauty your body barely registers that the water is in fact 'refreshing' as the locals call it. I call it cold but then again what do you expect when entering an underground watercourse. Of course there will be an 'oh wow that's refreshing' moment. Or for tropical gals like me, there is a "@#@#$@#!!!!!!!" moment which lasts about a half of a second once you open your eyes and look around.

 

 

The Mayans thought this was the gate to the underworld and would throw in sacrifices. Deer, Dogs, animals of all descriptions, the odd human for good luck and by doing so they believed it would provide them with protection and appease the gods. I guess if my mate fell down a whoping great hole and he was being a jerk not sharing his hunting tools I may just think it was an act of God too.

 

Snorkelling through the crystal clear water animal bones are as clear to see as they were hundreds of years ago. Calcium driping into the water from the limestone stalectites has preserved them and calcified them for prosperity. No human bones were found thank goodness. That would have been creepy. 

 

Making your way through there are several times when your entire being is thankful for the flashlight your guide has or you would end up faceplanting into the stalectites that have grown nearly to water level.  Sometimes they even meet up with those underwater making massive columns. 

 

Floating on your back and marveling at the ceiling you realise you are not alone (insert X-files theme). Bats live here. Tiny little bodies all huddled up awaiting night to feast on surrounding nocturnal insects, these are pest control not vampiric so don't worry. It didn't stop everyone grinning like idiots.

 

But wait there's more. In the surrounding area are open Centoes. If you are not fond of caves, or teeny tiny non bloodsucking bats, larger open outdoor Cenotes are also in the area for you to enjoy swimming in these pristine waters entirely bat-less. The water is welcome after the heat of the jungle and very deep even though the bottom is clearly visible. Safe enough to jump off surrounding high areas.

These stunning Cenotes also have their own wildlife. Small toe nibbling fish for a free 'fish massage' which I thoroughly enjoyed. Don't worry about the larger fish, they don't nibble. Just hang out and say hi. 

A male spiny tailed Iguana is also in residence and quiet friendly along with an abundance of birdlife making this a wildlife nerds paradise.

 

 

 Never in wildest dreams had I expected this level of amazement. Memories of a lifetime and one of the biggest highlights of mine, these Cenotes will never be forgotten and will be revisited ever chance that comes my way. Bats and all, they are amazing!

 

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