The Refreshing Centoes of the Yucatan

Before the Globetrotter trip I had no idea what a “cenote” was, but once you experience the crystal clear, refreshingly cold, and unusually deep pools of water that cover the Yucatan you will never forget the famous cenotes. A cenote is a natural pool which is carved over 100’s of years in limestone terrain, formed by the collapse of the roof of one or more caves. The word comes from the Mayan voice dz’onot , tzonot or Ts’ono’ot (masculine), which means “cave with water. The Mayans used centoes for multiple purposes, drinking, bathing and religous rituals. In some cenotes experts have found the remains of children under the age of 11 who were believed to be the victims of human sacrifice by the Mayans.

Unbeknownst to me before our Yucatan adventure, the Yucatan has the largest underground river system in the world. All over the Yucatan you can access this river system by cenotes. A cenote can be open, semi open or underground, we visited all three. Usually a cenote looks like a sink hole with water in the bottom of it. The water is crystal clear, cold and perfect on a hot sunny afternoon. Many of these cenotes are 50 to 70 feet below land level, so steps have been built so you can climb down to access the beautiful pools of water. Many also have cliffs that allow people to dive into from high above, as most of these cenotes are in excess of 150 feet deep. One that we swam in is so deep they have not been able to find the bottom so it is deemed the deepest cenote in the world.

I was fascinated to watch as our kids embraced diving into these incredibly deep bodies of water. It makes your heart soar when you see a child who was scared of the water and didn’t know how to swim a short 90 days ago jump off a 20 foot cliff into 150 feet of water.

Today we swam in an open cenote that is visited by crocs on occasion and the hacienda that we staying at has an underground cenote that is underneath the swimming pool. The kids had no problem jumping off a twenty foot platform into a pool of water in the semi dark, one small light lit up the water. Nothing has stopped our Globetrotters and the cenotes have added an element of adventure and a way to stave off the hot Mexican sun.

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