I Went Swimming In A Cenote. Here’s Why You Should Too.

If swimming in underground caves and exploring the jungle is your thing, you may want to book a trip to Mexico ASAP. Mexico is well known for their cenotes- natural sinkholes filled with freshwater that have opened up below the earth’s surface- and yes, they are as beautiful as they sound. Cenote water is very clear and clean due to the rain water that filters in through the ground. These natural sinkholes are often associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Ancient Mayans used cenotes as water supply as well as occasionally used for sacrificial offerings. The word cenote comes from the Mayan term dzonot, which means well. While cenotes vary in size, the best known ones are tens of meters in diameter and are located in Chichen Itza, Mexico. Not all cenotes are formed the same way, and it is not only due to size. There are four different types of cenotes that you can visit.

Open

An open cenote has completely collapsed into itself and is open to the sky.

 Semi-open

A semi open cenote is partially open to the sky and the other side is covered.

Cave

An underground cenote can be accessed through a land-level entrance. Once you make your way in, it opens up to the water.

Underground

An underground cenote, as the name states, is underground. This type is the most difficult to get to.

My Experience

While in Mexico I had the pleasure of traveling to the beautiful Cenote Zací in Valladolid, Mexico. Cenote Zací is absolutely a sight to see. It is a massive cave that is partly opened. It has rock walls and greenery surrounding it at all ends. From the street view, you would never even know that such a gorgeous treasure is nestled right there.

Being inside the cenote was such an incredible, indescribable feeling. The cenote is 300 feet deep and pretty intimidating. Everyone going into the cenote wears a life vest and as someone who doesn’t know how to swim, I was grateful that I was still given the opportunity to experience the cenote despite that fact. I stepped in timidly, the steps leading into it were cold and slippery. I mentally prepared myself to be submerged in cold water and I tried my hardest not to slip. As soon as you reach the steps you can how deep it is. It is always a bit frightening to see the vast power of a a deep body of water. I sat on the steps and slide down, scooting down and forwards like a baby making its way down stairs. Finally, I made it in. Even with my life vest on I found myself gripping the wall, scared to be out in the open waters. About 20 feet away people were laughing and splashing, swinging from a rope and jumping into the cenote. So free, so happy. I smiled looking at them and felt myself starting to ease up a bit, slowing moving away from the stone and allowing myself to float. Once I was away from the wall and confident enough to roam around, I felt a deep sense of bliss and freedom. I threw my head back and breathed in the fresh air and clear water. I watched above me as birds flew by and tourists jumped and swam.

An experience like this goes behind the ordinary fun, tourist experience. It is freeing and brings you back to the truth. It is a gentle and fierce reminder of the beautiful intricacies of this planet. It brings us back to the fact that we are all meant to be free explorers, experiencing what this life has to offer. It reminds us that the world is our oyster and that there is so much more to life than work, commuting, and the barista messing up a Starbucks order. Of course travel is expensive and it is not accessible to everyone. If possible, I highly recommend traveling to Mexico and finding a beautiful cenote to spend the day in. You just may find that afterwards you will feel a bit more free and brave.

What experiences have widened your perspective? Comment below.

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