Visiting Another Mexican Wonder: the Gran Cenote…

…and that time I left my actual camera in the car.

Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula specifically, is well known for it’s beaches and ruins, but there is another reason people visit this particular area: to swim in Mexico’s cenotes.

Cenotes are natural, clear, and albeit, chilly swimming holes. Essentially, they are sinkholes that were caused by limestone bedrock collapsing beneath the surface. The water below the surface would become exposed, resulting in these beautiful pools of water. While some of these cenotes in Mexico are similar to caves where they only have a small opening to enter, others are completely exposed, like a lake.

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Cenotes in Mexico date back to the Mayan civilization. In fact, there have been skeletal remains found in cenotes belonging to that of women and children. Human sacrifices were a big spiritual belief in the Mayan culture. If a child was born with an already disfigured head (because Mayan typically change the shape of the baby’s heads post-birth), they are sacrificed immediately. Why? The children are already considered perfect because they were born disfigured. Women were also thrown into the cenotes as a sort of mediator and offering between the Mayans and the Gods to help answer their prayers, of sorts.

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Cenotes in Mexico are no longer used for human sacrifices, for obvious reasons, but are now used for enjoyment. The Gran Cenote, located near the Tulum Ruins, is one of Mexico’s hundreds, if not, thousands of cenotes found in the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of these cenotes are more easily accessible, while others take a little more hunting to find. Most cenotes have an entrance fee of a few dollars.

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The Gran Cenote is one of the more popular and commercialized cenotes in Mexico. They have snorkeling gear, life jackets, and locker rentals, showers, changing rooms, and scuba diving excursions in this particular cenote.

As we made our way to the main entrance, Adam immediately dove headfirst into the unknown, while I eased my way into the cold water. Once I finally got over my fear of drowning while in my life jacket, we were finally able to explore. We found that there are two separate entrances into the Gran Cenote in Mexico. The one main stairway led into a deep pool, where the snorkelers entered. This is where a majority of the people congregated, as do the fish. You will often catch a bunch of fish following you while trying to nibble the dead skin off of your legs. There are several turtles that stick to the edges of the water in the shallow parts.

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Separated by a cave, containing bats, was a shallow pool. This is where the second entrance was located, for those who are not the biggest fans of bats *raises hand*, in order to completely dodge them. This is perfect for children and individuals who are not the most sound swimmers *again, raises hand*. After we cooled off enough and did enough exploring, we were on our way.

We initially planned to visit other cenotes in Mexico on our vacation, but unfortunately there were not enough hours in the day. This was the only one that we got to experience while staying in Cancun due to time restrictions, but it was one of our most memorable experiences while in Mexico.

 Have you ever gotten the opportunity to swim somewhere extraordinary? Where was it?

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