I’ve got a vague recollection of someone once telling me about caves in Mexico containing fresh water lagoons where you can swim. I’m not sure who it was but they’re called cenotes and today we visited them. As far as my understanding of geology goes, these phenomena have formed through the erosion of the landscape. Much of the limestone has been worn away underground, creating caves and some sinkholes have emerged giving access from ground level. Due to Yucatan being at sea level, these cenotes contain fresh water direct from the water table. Hence the water is perfectly clear and suitable for swimming in. There’s quite a few fish in them although I checked beforehand that nothing in there bites humans!

Getting to the cenotes is part of the adventure itself. Mexico has a bit of a reputation for being whatever the opposite of a Nanny State is. That said, you still can’t buy beers in Yucatan at 9 o’clock in the morning. Without wanting to get anyone into trouble, this blue tape was somehow bypassed. The easy part of the trip was the hour or so minibus ride to what seemed like the middle of nowhere. We then split into groups of five where we transferred onto a horse and cart along a rickety railway line while clinging onto the cart and your belongings, as flying off it seemed like a genuine possibility. On the way here I’d noticed motorcycle taxis that were essentially a motorbike with a platform contains four seats attached to its front. Aside from how the driver could see past the four passengers, these things looked like a bit of a deathtrap. If the driver decided to brake a bit too keenly you could easily end up twenty yards down the road! I thought to myself that there’s no way I’d ever get on one of those. Well guess what the next bit of the journey was on? The train track came to a bit of an abrupt end. Apparently this was due to some sort of local dispute about land rights, leading to a section of the rail line being town up. I’ve got no photos of this part of the journey due to hanging on for dear life. The motorbike-thing took us to the next bit of rail, where it was back onto the horse and cart to the cenotes. At one point the cart managed to derail on a bend but we were going so slowly that this was fairly undramatic. The driver simply waved everyone off the cart and lifted it back onto the track.

We visited two cenotes. The first was smaller and more low-key and we almost had it to ourselves. You had to enter via a fairly high ladder but inside was great. The water was clear and not too cold. The second cenote was bigger and a lot more popular. This one had stairs inside and some platforms to jump off into the water. I’d like to stress to any travel insurance company that may be reading that this is in no way a hazardous activity. None of the surface or rocks were slippery and the water was clear and deep! The caves were lovely and the water a refreshing antidote to the excessive heat outside. This trip was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Back in Merida it was raining, and I mean raining! I clocked that it has rained quite a lot recently, usually late afternoon and normally quite heavily. The penny then dropped that we are now in the rainy season, the tourist industry’s preferred term to hurricane season. Not that it’s too much of an inconvenience with the downpour being somewhat of a welcome break from the incessant heat.

Tonight was possibly the best meal of the many good ones enjoyed in Mexico. Tikin-xic is a load of different fish, cooked together in banana leaves and served with a couple of side dishes. I usually take a dim view of photographing food but in this  meal was so good that I’ll make an exception. On the way back to the hotel we had a drink in a German-theme bar. There was something slightly surreal about seeing a Latino lady wearing a dirndl!

Horse and cart railway line
Ladder down to first cenote
First cenote from outside
Inside second cenote
Afternoon shower
Tikin-xic.which is much nicer than it looks in this awful photo