Whenever I arrive in a new place, I make a point to figure out where the water is. Growing up in Chicago, I loved knowing that Lake Michigan was a short el train away. Whenever life got too chaotic, I’d be at the water’s edge as quickly as I could. Water resets us, brings us back to ourselves, and makes us remember that life ain’t so dang complicated.
When you’re deep inland in the jungles of the Yucatàn, there’s no vast body of water in your backyard (and a pool doesn’t always cut it). What you have instead are cenotes — fresh water sink holes that on a hot day, seem like they’re placed there directly by the hand of dios herself. There are pretty compelling arguments that these underwater lakes were created by the same asteroid that wiped out our dinosaur friends (too soon?). That’s the kind of scale cenotes are on. There’s something other worldy about them.
Almost all of the 6,000 plus cenotes in the Yucatàn are meticulously filtered by earth so you can see right down to the bottom through the aquamarine waters to all the little fish scurrying about below. The Mayans used them as a source of fresh water and air conditioning before it was a thing.
Some cenotes come with a parade of German tour buses. The ones closest to our hacienda are a little different… A few kilometers down a dirty road, you’ll be greeted by some friendly Mayan families with donkey drawn carriages attached to 100-year-old train tracks from old agave plantations. For a few pesos, the donkey takes you through the now overgrown fields to a collection of small, secluded cenotes, each one vastly different in size, scope, and amount of stairs you need to crawl down to get to it. Yet each one has one through line — they’re friggin’ beautiful. And it’s not in that “oh that’s nice” sort of way. They’re the type of things you slap yourself because a pinch won’t cut it. Is this real life?
After our multi-cenote plunge, we stopped by my favorite barber in Valladolid who after a straight razor shave, uses aloe from the backyard to cool any post-shave heat. And that, mis amigos, is how you live mas.