Submerged in Bliss at Cenote Grande
Cenote – What’s that? It is an underwater sinkhole. They are limestone caves filled with water that have hanging stalactites. You can see through the greeny shaded waters and watch the fish weave by in pools. To go to a cenote and not dive into the crisp fresh water would be a crime.
I was in Tulum and one of my many to-do’s was sink in a cenote. Options were plentiful as the entire Yucutan coast of Mexico has an abundance of cenotes. Although there was a cenote holding my name – I read it wasn’t the cream of the crop unlike me so I headed to the one with the most promising name – Cenote Grande. And for those of you who’ve never looked at your t-shirt tag – that L/G label – stands for grande. A gigantic Cenote? I was set.
I hopped a taxi and at a set price of 50 pesos one way, I was grinding my teeth for not luring in other tourists in La Cigana Hostel to join me for no other reason than to split the price of the taxi ride. Off we went. As we cruised down the arrow-straight highway to cenote grande I knew my decision not to bike was a wise one – I’d never of made it before I succumbed to the water loss due to excessive sweating.
I didn’t know what I expected when I arrived in the Cenote and I didn’t come prepared – this idiot went in normal clothes – no bathing suit or towel. I went to what is essentially the best swimming spot in Mexico for me (Fresh, Cold Water) and didn’t bring my suit. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
I looked down at myself – black yoga capris and a cotton tank top. Nothing I’d be too upset with if it got wet – nor would I be gawked at for indecent exposure. So I tucked my camera away in my backpack and dived in. I experienced a form of shocking ecstasy; The water was so crisp and refreshing that it wicked away all semblance that I has been sweating profusely seconds before. I was finally cool.
As I thread water lightly to keep only my head above water I was thankful I learned to swim all those many years ago. Otherwise I never would be in this bliss – cold in Mexico. Who would have thought it? I savoured the moments watching others diving in and disappearing deeper into the sinkhole. I stayed in the sunlight and near to my backpack – My trust in other foreigners is tentative at best.
The fish came in to investigate the foreign object in the midst – aka me – and I could feel them nipping at the exposed skin on my legs, feet, and arms. I stayed still to help the ripples lesson and watch as the waters around me stilled – I wanted to see the floor. Without snorkling gear or my glasses, my view was less than chrystal-clear, but the reflecting colours by the sunlight kept me amazed.
The whole cenote looks rugged; a tree growing out of the middle with fallen branches and vines wrapping around the wooden walking planks and clinging to the edges of the sinkhole. I searched desperately to spot a turtle and after sneaking low to the edges of the wooden planks I finally found a new friend.
From that first jump into the cenote – it remains the only time in Mexico that I’ve felt refreshed – I’ve felt content. The weather wasn’t melting me and I floated on my back staring up into the blue skies – peaceful.