Cenotes and train tracks… serious thrill issues resurface..

17 Sep

And on into Merida – a 9 hour non stop coach journey with little to recommend it : more dubbed movies, and a time to catch up on some homework…. Still very beautiful countryside, and even a brief spell on the coast.

And then into Merida and the Independence Day celebrations.  Everyone was up at the park for the main event, although there were some festivities and a protest in the Zocalo, too.  I missed most of it due to a failed conference call.. Grrr!

A bit of a struggle in the morning getting coffee – most of the town was closed off for the parades – the schools led marching bands, the riot police wore their ceremonial gear (no, really) and the motorcycle police demonstrated how to ride REALLY slowly.  And one poor soldier had full jungle camouflage on (basically, he was dressed as a tree).  Now HE was feeling a little warm – and got a round of applause.

We spent today out jumping into Mayan cenotes or sinkholes – we visited the Cenotes de Cuzama although there are thousands of these across Yucatan.  These supply the water to the villages, but also were used for ceremonial purposes by the Maya.

We started off with a charming if bumpy ride on a horse drawn carriage on the old railway used to carry the sisal harvest on the old hacienda.  It’s a single lane track, so when two carriages meet, one of them has to be lifted off the track and then back on.  Fabulous fun though!  The horses seemed a little scrawny but otherwise well cared for – and can set a cracking pace pulling the carriage.  The rails aren’t QUITE as straight as they used to be, all of which added to the fun.

And that led to three sinkholes – huge underground caverns in the limestone that are full of fresh water.  Each of them is reached by often precarious ladders and steps down into the cavern, and lit only by light from holes in the roof.

The Mayans used to use these in their ceremonies – it was a way to contact the gods of the underworld, and the people would descend into the sinkhole in mimicry of death, only to arise reborn from the water.  The water is an incredibly beautiful blue-green and quite warm (or, rather, relatively warm)… and deep enough to dive into safely from the platforms way above – a thrill I haven’t had for years.  Mind you, you have to contend with the fish, and the bats… and the hordes of Mexican children on holiday!

Beautiful experience, though.. And I felt reborn, refreshed, reenergized and renewed  too.

And then just to add to the water theme of the day… the Mexican heavens opened again, dumping several inches of rain on an increasingly waterlogged group.  So the only real choice seemed to be ice cream and coffee on the square, and a reflective couple of hours before the 4am start tomorrow….

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