Cuzumá

Cuzumá isn’t only a really fun word to say (cuz-oo-MA), its also a pretty Yucatecan town where you can take a ride into the heart of the jungle and visit three absolutely beautiful cenotes.

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The town is located only an easy hour away from Merida and the drive itself is wonderful – passing through many villages.

I had been wanting to go to Cuzuma for such a long time; its one of the places people here always recommend to visitors. Finally, one sunny Saturday, the opportunity emerged and off we went.

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Upon arrival at the cenotes zone we were directed to a horse pulled ‘truck’; each truck carries four passengers plus the driver, who doubles as your guide. Our guide wasn’t really a ray of sunshine but some of the others we encountered along the route were funny and informative. I learned that the trucks used to be a means of transporting the henequen produced in the Yucatan until the mid-20th century. The trucks are now fitted with seats and travel along mini rails through the jungle, reaching out kilometres into the wild.

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Its amazing to think, as you travel through the jungle, the huge industry that henequen used to be here in Yucatan and how long it must have taken to lay these tracks. Bumping along behind our trusty steed, on an isolated and rickety railway, it really did seem like a journey back in time, trundling further and further out into the jungle and seeing nothing but green, green and flashes of colour from the butterflies.

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The truck takes you to two cenotes and one cavern with an  underground river.

(There used to be three cenotes included on the tour but due to ongoing disputes between the villagers as to who owns the rights to the cenotes, one has become part of a rival enterprise.)

After about twenty minutes on the truck and a sore bum from bumping along, we arrived at the first cenote.

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When we arrived there was nobody else there and the silence was magical. The water changes between shades of turquoise and blue and the sunlight flickers down through the opening and sparkles on the surface. Roots hang like sculptures reaching down into the water and you can see a million shapes in the textures of the walls.

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After a long, beautiful swim, back up the stairs into the real world we went, boarded our truck and set off for the second stop.

The second cenote is called Bolonchojol Cenote. To get down into the cavern you have to climb down 15 meters of a totally vertical set of slippery wooden stairs but its more than worth it; reaching the end of the ladder, I turned around and was greeted by one of the most beautiful cenotes I have ever seen.

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For the Maya the region’s cenotes were sacred. Revered as one of the three entryways to the underworld, the ancient Maya would visit cenotes to communicate with their gods and ancestors. Above all other cenotes I have visited, Bolonchojol cenote let me feel that spirituality, peace and sense of the other-world that the Maya came for.

Although I wasn’t the first to explore Bolonchojol that afternoon and neither was I alone, the quiet of the empty cavern and the beauty and mysticism of its form and light gave me a glimpse into the standstill awe that the ancient Maya must have felt when they visited these otherworldly places.

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After floating in the rays of light and watching the turquoise reflections on the walls, I was reluctant to go back up the steps and leave that little piece of heaven on earth.

Our next stop was an underground cavern with absolutely no natural light (you are only guided by a flashlight) which I wasn’t brave enough to enter. The description of it basically sounded like my worst nightmare so instead or crawling around in the dark I sat and admired this beautiful tree which guards the entrance to the cave.

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The whole trip took about 3 and a half hours and costs 350 pesos between the people you share your truck with (maximum 4).

It was a great day in Cuzuma and we returned to Merida with smiles and feeling blessed that we live so close to such unique natural wonders as these.

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