Friday, 6 December 2013

Cobá's cenotes

The same day that we went to Cobá, we visited two local cenotes, which are natural holes in the limestone that expose groundwater at the bottom. They can be totally open at the top like a giant pit, or they can be a closed-in cavern with only a small hole open to the outside. The water in cenotes is usually crystal clear as it has filtered slowly through the ground and contains no particulate matter.

Cenotes are very common in the Yucatan peninsula, and were often used by the Mayas for sacrificial offerings. The boys and I watched a BBC documentary before we came down here where they explored a sacred cenote and found the bones of hundreds of small children. It made Cal a little nervous that we would take him to such a place!

The first cenote we visited, Tamcach Ha, had a very narrow opening from the outside, with a long, steep, slippery staircase for access.

Once you got down far enough, it opened up into a large, underground cavern with a cool, clear pool to swim in. It felt amazing after our sweaty, dusty trek through Cobá.

We spent at least an hour there, floating around or perching on the big rock (the only place to rest as the stairway ended right in the water) while Cal happily snorkeled around chasing after small fish.

When we arrived there were about 20 people there, but, like most places we've been, the tourist collectivos all cleared out by 3pm and we had the place to ourselves. It was silent, with the only sounds the dripping of the groundwater as it filtered through from above and fell into the pool from the stalactites that lined the ceiling.

The second cenote, Choo Ha, was just a few hundred meters away, and while larger and in some ways more impressive, was not as inviting for swimming as it was shallow and kind of slimy looking.

 This cenote had some really impressive pillars resulting from the fusion of stalactites and stalagmites. The next picture is hopelessly out of focus, but it's the only one I took that shows the scale.

Cal was ready to jump in for a swim, but the rest of us were beat out, and ready to head back to Akumal for late afternoon cocktails. Three against one ruled the day, so we headed back to catch the last rays of sun. 

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