Monday, February 4, 2013

Cenotes, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

mxbackroads--Cenotes, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its Mayan ruins and beaches.  However, one more natural feature should be added to the list and that is the Cenotes.

Here is the definition of Cenote from Wilkipedia.

cenote (English: /sɨˈnt/ or /sɛˈnt/Spanish: [seˈnote] or [θeˈnote]; plural: cenotes; from Yucatec Maya dzonot or ts'onot,[1] "well"[2]) is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula, and some nearby Caribbean islands, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. 

The book 1491 did comment on the practice of using cenotes for human sacrifices and then drinking the same water.  Seems that was not the most healthy practice.

Here is the link to the complete Wilkipedia entry on the subject:  Cenotes.

The Cenotes vary considerably in attraction, but they are all fascinating from an eclogical perspective.  On your trip to the Yucatan leave a couple of days or more for exploring the Cenotes.

Most use snorkeling gear to explore the cenotes, but there were many scuba divers that explored through the underwater tunnels and traveled from cenote to cenote.  If all else fails you can use water wings or just swim.

Here are some pictures from the Grand Cenotes which is on the road to Coba.  Crowded and many of the more attracitve cenotes do charge admission.

The story is that the water table in the Yucatan is ten feet deep.  That means that any sinkhole deeper than ten feet has water in it.  Now think about all those septic systems.  Think they are feeding all the sub-surface flows.  Be careful about drinking OR swimming in the water in Mexico.

Here is a picture of a shallow cenote.  It had small fish and clear water just like the deeper cenotes.  The local urban myth story is that there are crocodiles in the cenotes, but it doesn't appear that the food supply is enough to support a crocodile.  The other story is a parasite that crawls into your ear and can cause severe pain.  Not sure about that one.

The cenotes are worth exploring.  Many have been exploited by extreme commercial development, but even there you can see a unique part of the Earth's ecosystem.  Yes, the beaches and ruins are great but don't forget the Cenotes.  You can plan a pretty interesting trip just around them.

This cenote was in a cave along the road to Chan Chemuyil.  The photo does not do justice to the colors.  The story is that there was a croc living there, but all I saw were bats.  A special spot as the rope on the right side shows.

But my favorite cenote was in Chan Chemuyil.  Here on early mornings I brought my coffee and ipad and connected to the world with Benito's wireless internet.  On the park bench next to the cenote the world seemed like a much better place.  Even the igauana's came to the cenote in the morning to start their day.

On a trip to the Yucatan the beaches and ruins will be an important part of your trip.  However, the cenotes will be the special surprise that you will long remember.

Book read--Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.  One of my criticisms of history is that it is generally focused on individual persons.  However, as any leader knows it is important to find a parade and THEN pretend to be its leader.  This book by Jared Diamond was the first to intergrate ecology, economics, sociology and its role in historical development.  It was so popular that even PBS started a TV series based on the book.  I missed it.  Must have been during one of those no TV reception periods in my life.  Don't miss the book.  It is similar to 1491 and 1493, but much easier to read.  Just look at it as a thriller of book.  How a small population of people know as Europeans on the edge of extinction take over planet Earth and the reasons why.  Interested??

No comments: