Floating in the Mystical Cenotes
The magic of the cenotes here in the Quintana-Roo state of Mexico is all encompassing. I was actually shocked at how breathtaking and awe-inspiring the cenotes were in person. I didn't prepare for such extraordinary, transformative experiences. After visiting, I understand why the Mayans considered these natural water springs to be immensely spiritual and gateways to the underworld, as there is truly a mystical element to these freshwater portals. Cenotes form from the collapse of the limestone bedrock that makes up the soil in this region and exposes the fresh water beneath the bedrock. Some cenotes are completely open and look more like a pond or lake and others are more cavernous with stalagmites hanging from the ceiling of the cave. Either way, there is a spiritual reverence that one feels with Mother Nature if you truly tune into the land when you visit. A close friend of mine suggested saying a prayer for this sacred land upon entering. I did and although I wasn't 100% sold on it at the time I must say that it felt like the land spoke back to me sweetly during my visits into these majestic pools of green and blue.
Traveling during Covid has certainly has its perks and one of those has been the scarcity of tourists here this time of year. As a result, our first experience at the cenotes was lovely and felt like we had the place to ourselves. For Mother's Day I wanted to venture outside the city so we booked a half day to Kantun-Chi. This eco park is about 25 minutes outside of Playa del Carmen and was the perfect first experience dipping into the cenotes. We chose the $29 option to explore the 5 cenotes on our own. We ended up seeing 4/5 since the little guy was well past his nap by the time we finished. Again, I loved how it felt like we had the place to ourselves. I think this is a big part of why I felt so connected to the land, because we had the time to savor it quietly as a family. Three cenotes we visited here were cavernous and so cool to experience. There were even a couple little natural shelves so Everett could stand in the water next to us. The water was crystal clear and only small fish could be seen. My favorite cenote here was the larger outdoor one though! The emerald green water was spectacular. I actually loved that Kantun-Chi required life vests because it was so nice to just relax and float in the water! Everett did so well during our 3 hour stay here despite being far past his first nap time of the day. He ended up crashing in the stroller on the way to the car! Haha go figure! Anyway, it was the perfect Mother's Day adventure with my little family (despite the water damage caused to my phone... oops) and I'm so grateful for the beautiful memories!
Our next cenotes experience was last weekend with our good friends Tony and Jen, who are currently staying in Playa del Carmen for 2 weeks! We hired a great tour guide, Marisa, who drove us 45 minutes away to some of her favorite cenotes (not far from Tulum) called Tankah. Tankah is a working Mayan community that offers cenotes experiences, zip lining, canoeing, etc. This community doesn't allow many visitors at once and not without a reservation, so again it felt like we had the place to ourselves. I said another small prayer of reverence for the land and culture upon entering and proceeded to have another remarkable encounter with Mother Nature and the Mayans that occupy that land. Not only did we swim in some amazing cenotes (two of them were so big we could jump and swing into the water like kids), but we also learned about the Mayans that live there in traditional homes and tasted some of their traditional food. We encountered bats hanging from the tops of the caves and zip lined and canoed across the most crystal clear blue water I've ever seen! One of my favorite cenotes there was called Azul and let's just say it was appropriately named... soooo blue!
The cenotes of the Riviera Maya are an absolute must see! Getting out of the hustle and bustle of city living in Playa del Carmen has been much needed. It's wild because as a modern day city dwelling human you don't always realize just how much you need to be surrounded by nature sometimes. You get into the rhythms of modern living (shopping, restaurants, nightlife, go go go) and it's easy to forget that we are nature and nature is us. Returning to the land is a must; a must for fresh air and water; a must for renewal and fresh perspective; and a must for a return to the very core of our very nature.
Bonne Chance Fellow Travelers,