Today is a big day! Steven finally agreed to put his almost finished programming project aside and join Zosia for a cenote dip trip. We are going to Cuzamá! Our hotel offers an excursion with a guide and snorkeling equipment for 420 pesos per person but we decided for a much cheaper option described in the Lonely Planet book.
It took us a little time to find the collectivo to Cuzamá but since we passed by many street vendors offering boiled sweetcorn spiced up with chilli and lime juice we were more than happy to indulge in two orders each of what is our favourite snack in Mexico at the moment. Vegetarians don’t have too many options over here and every time it is difficult for us to find something meatless to eat we dream of Thailand, the veggie paradise. Finally we found a collectivo to Cuzamá east of Mercado San Benito on the 67th street (between 50th and 52nd). A single ride per person to Cuzamá costs 17,50 pesos and takes 1 hour.
The collectivo dropped us off in Cuzamá and immediately there were 3 mototaxi drivers around us offering us a trip to Chunkanán. We read in the Lonely Planet book there would be peditrikes to Chunkanán at 10 pesos one way. Peditrikes? Not sure what it is but we expected some rikshaw-like peddled tricycles. There were only mototaxis to be found, oneway trip to Chunkanán at 50 pesos. We found it a bit expensive for a 3,5 km ride but then we realized that the driver calculated his ride back to Cuzamá into the price. He offered he would pick us up after our cenote tour is finished. Why not. Even if we overpay a little in the end we are happy to pay some local family guy and not some big tourist agency from Merida.
It seems like the Cuzamá cenotes are being care-taken by a local coop. The 250 pesos is an official price and the money goes to the coop. The price includes entrance to three beautiful cenotes and transportation with a horse-pulled cart on rails. The cart can take up to 4 people. We were hoping to team up with another couple to share the cost but since we arrived here around 2 pm there are not so many people here, which is both bad and good. We cannot share the ride but we will have the cenotes pretty much to ourselves.
A cart with a little group just finishing their trip to the cenotes arrived. Steven is already in the cart with all our stuff secured so it doesn’t fly our once we start going, the trails will be cleared up soon and Canela is relaxed and ready to run.
The village of Chunkanán is a very peaceful place. There are so many horses over here. They are a bit smaller then the Arabic horses and look more like overgrown ponies. They look healthy and happy with shiny fur, spending their days outdoors, running on grass. They seem to have a good life over here.
Our cart will be pulled by a delicate rusty-brown filly named Canela (Spanish for cinnamon). All is ready. Canela starts running. She is galloping. Oh, it’s really loud! The metal wheels of the cart are bouncing over the trail connections. The trails where probably built many years ago to transport the cut sisal leaves to be processed in the hacienda located in the center of the village. Thus being very old the track is screaming for maintainance. Screaming really loud! As long as Canela doesn’t mind the noise we can deal with it too.
Our cart rolls through the scrub shooting out off the red soil, there are many sisal plants along the path as well as fences of loose stones stacked upon each other and mysteriously not falling apart.
Oncoming trafing in sight! We’ve got one track only. What are we supposed to do now? It happened many times along the way. One of the carts needs to be stopped and taken of the trails so the other one can pass by. Since we started our trip late most of the returning carts made the track free for us. Gracias, muy amable!
Soon we are arriving at the first cenote. Our guide anounces we have 30 minutes to explore the cenote. Canela has a break, gets tied up to a tree by a long rope and is already looking for some green leaves. Zoe goes to change into the pretty bamboo restroom at the side and soon we are ready for a dip. The water is very refreshing and once we jump in every fried up cell of our body sings happy tunes of relief. There is nothing better then a cenote swim on a hot day like this one! We are so happy we forget to take a picture of the cenote.
Back in the cart galloping to the next cenote. While in the first one we met a couple of kids, in this one we are alone. What a little gem! Deep blue water with smooth motionless surface, ceiling decorated with stalactites and wasp hives, tree roots suspended from the limestone roof in search for water. We descend the wooden stairs and from the deck we dive into the azure freshness. Hhmmmm…
Delighted with the cenote we get into the cart and share our excitement with our guide. He says with a smirk: “Wait till you see the last one! It is the most beautiful one! Off we go!”
After a short ride we arrive at the third cenote. We follow the signs to the entrance. It would be difficult to find this cenote without the signs since its roof is pretty much sealed. The first person who has ever found it must have been overwhelmed by its beauty. The entrance is a claustrophobic chimney with a ladder. Steven wants to go first and check the condition of the ladder. It seems new and is very stable.
There is neither much light in this cenote nor much air circulation making it mysteriously dark and kinda warm. The water is so still and crystal clear that it is difficult to see where the surface is and guess how deep it could be. It turns out to be so deep that Steven cannot even reach the bottom while diving and still we can see the rocky bottom so well as if there was no water at all. We love it!
It’s almost 5 pm now and time to head back to the village. It’s good to see that the cooperative is taking a good care of these cenotes. All the sites are secured and equipped with decks, stairs and railings and there are pretty batrooms and changing rooms at every cenote.
We knew about this unusual vehicle we were going to take, yet we didn’t think of bringing any carrots or cabbage for our gentle filly. Another gentle being we were happy to have at our service was the “driver”. Patient to answer our questions about the cenotes and the area yet not imposing with typical veiled questions about our financial status:
Where are you from? (read as: Are you from a rich country?)
What is your profession? (read as: Are you rich?)
Back in the village our mototaxi driver was already waiting for us. He came all the way from Cuzamá to pick us up. We took a walk around the peaceful village though – checked the run down hacienda hit by a hurricane several years ago and strolled around the village.
Back in Cuzamá around 6 pm just to catch what was according to our mototaxi driver the last collectivo to Merida. If it had really been the last one, we got really lucky. What a great day!