Friday, February 17, 2017

The More Challenging Cuzama Cenotes

I'm on a cenote kick...I had read about the Cuzama cenotes, and once you see pictures, it's hard to get them out of your mind. I really wanted to go to them, but had heard they can be challenging so I was a little leery. Jim loves to indulge me, so off we went.

For some reason, Garmin took us on a weird route through a lot of little towns and, at one point, away from Cuzama. I wasn't sure what she was up to, but we followed.

Small town life...

And these are the infamous speed bumps that are everywhere in the Yucatan. Some are bigger than others and they can be bone jarring at night if you don't see them.

The long rock walls most likely surrounded one of the haciendas which were famous for sisal production.

At last we saw a sign for Cuzama!

The instructions we had read were "turn right at the yellow church and take the road to the end." Yellow church? Tick! Little did we know that there is a yellow church in most towns.

Shortly after we saw this sign and turned right. So far, so good...

Right away, Jim was saying this didn't seem right. I agreed but we had followed the instructions (hadn't we?)...

And then we saw a sign for the cenote, so we carried on... was seeming a bit unlikely that we were in the right place, but having come all this way, we didn't turn back. After all, it said "take the road to the end." Well, we did come to the end. The end was a bunch of men with machetes clearing brush. I'm still not sure where we ended up. They were outside a gate and when they saw us coming they opened the gate, like they were expecting us. Inside were a group of school children and yup, a cenote, just not THE cenotes. With my limited Spanish and the magazine showing the cenotes, they told us it was another 5 km. Good grief, another fine mess. We waved at the machete men (no, I didn't take a picture) and retraced our steps.

This was more like it. We had also read about these kids who will try to get you into other cenotes. The area is full of them. At every speed bump, they would be at your window trying to get you to turn off the road. Sigh...this was becoming a strange day.

These kids got in front of the car and we couldn't go by them. Now, Jim was getting a little peeved and it takes a lot for him to get there.

When we didn't turn at their cenote, we ended up with a new group to follow. Oh my, this was an experience.

Finally a sign for the cenotes of Cuzama...amen!

We paid our 400 pesos (about $25 Cdn), paid off the kids, paid to use the washroom and finally jumped onto the truck. These horse drawn little trucks or carts were used on sisal plantations and ran on these tracks.

We were finally enjoying ourselves after a bit of a mess getting there!

After a short ride on the truck, you got off to sit on the front of one of these motorcycles. Those little half seats on the side allow seating for 4 which we had on our return. They don't waste any time. There are no seat belts and you hit some pretty big bumps. We were both thinking the same thing "this would never be allowed in Canada."

We got back on another truck with the man who would be our guide for the cenotes. You visit 3 cenotes and are allowed 30 minutes at each. He passed by the first one, as there were several trucks already there. On to the second...through this hole on the surface you could see the beautiful clear water. I was excited!

Our guide came down with me. We had figured out by this point that this wouldn't be the wisest thing for Jim to do.

That's a few steps!

I had a little camera with me that had a strap which I put around my wrist. I was glad I wasn't trying to hang on to my phone.

Jim is up there somewhere! crystal clear.

Jim could see me which was nice. I was taking some photos and plotting my entrance. I had the whole cenote to myself. It is 27 m deep.

The steps go right into the water so it was pretty easy. I expected it to be cold but it was lovely.

You can't see the grin on my face, but I was a happy camper.

A large family came along shortly after. There was a young boy about 6 years old and he was the first to jump in. Well done! Coming your head.

Hmm...this is a stand off as there is no bypass. By some unspoken arrangement, one group would get out of the truck, and the driver would lift it off the rails.

They would go by and he would haul it back onto the tracks. No easy task.

This was the only time we stayed in our truck. Every other time, we were the ones to get out. Our driver wasn't big but obviously strong. I can't imagine doing that over and over again.

At each cenote, he would tie up the horse and come with us to the entrance.

Along the way, I did say to Jim "I don't think we are the usual age demographic. I think this is a young person's thing." The other drivers would just sit and wait for their passengers to come out of the cenote. Our driver went down with me and I was really grateful for that. it!

Gulp...this was the entrance to the next cenote.

Straight down...

The steps were quite far apart in some places. This would not be suitable for a child (in my humble Canadian opinion).

Success! What a beautiful spot. My photos don't do it justice. Google the cenotes to see much better pictures.

I don't know how deep this one is but it was deeper than the last one. The water was so beautiful.

See the platform sticking out beside me? That is the easiest way to get in...jump! Yeah, now I was thinking I wasn't going to do this. The jumping in didn't bother me so much, it was the how the heck am I getting out. Our guide could see me hesitating and came over to give me encouragement (I think that was the gist of his talk!). So I took off my shoes and dress...and no, decided I was quite OK with just the experience of being down there.

Heading back up...

Yeah, I'm still pretty happy that I went down the ladder at least.

These are the holes in the ground around the cenote. I can't imagine them being unguarded in North America. We'd have barricades all around them. Surely someone would get sued for something.

This is our dear driver hauling the truck off the rails...

Pushing it to the side...

Pulling it back on. Jim said "I'd help him but I'd just be in the way." My limited Spanish extends to "mucho trabajo" (a lot of work). His response "si!"

Here we are at the last cenote, which would have been the first if it wasn't so crowded. I had heard this was like a kiddie pool, so I was all confident and puffed up on this one.

Until I saw the opening...

Oh dear...I looked at our guide with a nervous expression and he's saying "Si...bonita fotografia." Nice photos...OK, if you insist.

Once you got inside, it was dark with only his flashlight and a few lights near the entrance. We went down the stairs...

And he's pointing to the other side saying "agua." OK...the water's over there? No problem. I take one step and sploosh into the water. Oh! The water is here. I laughed. Then he motions for me to swim to the other side and he'll meet me there. Really? In the dark? But he gathers up my shoes, dress and camera and he's gone. Into the water and I start swimming and in about 15 seconds hit the other side. Seriously, this is a kiddie pool!

Lots of stalagtites and stalagmites...

Waiting for the ladder...

You can see a ghostly image at the bottom...

That's me! Such a great experience.

This horse had the most beautiful pale blue eyes...

And then it was time to head back...

One more time off the track to let someone by...

Back on the motorcycle...this time we were with a couple from Mexico City who were staying in Merida for the week. Yup, four of us got on the front. I don't know how the driver could see, but he could probably do the drive in the dark.

Back on another truck to the entrance...such a great experience.

And then it was on the road to head for home. Look at the endless rock walls all painted white...

Through the town square...

Past some haciendas...some like the one below are either still working or have been turned into hotels or bed and breakfasts.

Others, like this one, have just been abandoned.

Pretty little towns...we were hoping Garmin was going to find a more direct route going home.

Watch out for the speed bumps!

Here is where Jim overruled Garmin. He thought we should take the road towards Merida, but Garmin was taking us the opposite way. No way, says he. The road to Merida did make more sense and in no time we were on the highway. Thank heavens for Jim's sense of direction.

These police roadblocks are frequent and a bit unnerving. We are clearly of little interest to them. They barely look at us. But the look you do get, is anything but friendly.

There is a huge Corona factory just outside Merida where they produce beer and also manufacture the aluminum cans.

We've been by here several always makes me laugh.

Ahhh...home again. What a great day. Big thanks to my good hubby, Jim, who goes along with my sometimes crazy ideas. That night was the first night that we've had a windless evening dinner. The flame of the candle was perfectly still.

Our next trip? I think we're off to Celestun to see some flamingos!

1 comment:

Flemming Nielsen said...

If I could use every language in the world to tell you that I would never ever in my life do what you did it would not be enough of an emphasis. My admiration for you has gone up even more than it was before. BBBHFUH