From the top of Cenote Samula at Dzitnup I peered into the abyss. Only five or six rough hand-hewn steps were visible before the cave’s gloomy interior swallowed the ancient staircase. Digging my fingertips into sweating limestone walls I descended gingerly, concentrating on keeping my footing on the slick, uneven stones. At the bottom of the stairs, where sunlight could penetrate no further, I groped my way to a viewing platform carved into the rock and blinked, allowing my eyes to adjust to the semi-darkness.
Like an exotic dancer, the cenote revealed itself in stages. A narrow column of liquid white light poured through a small hole in the roof, illuminating massive tree roots that spilled over the edge. Frantically searching for water, the sinuous limbs tumbled into the crystal-clear pool at the bottom. Colors gradually emerged in the semi-darkness: black streaks and white guano painted patterns on the ocher and red stone walls, complementing the turquoise blue water cupped in the bottom of this perfectly circular cavern.
I had expected Cenote Samula to be crowded – these naturally occurring sinkholes are among the more popular tourist attractions around Valladolid – but to my delight it was deserted. Closing my eyes, I tuned into its cathedral energy. Water droplets plunked from sweating rocks into the pool and bats swooped back and forth through the sunbeam, emitting their high-pitched warning. Whispers echoed in the cavern; a giggle punctuated the silence. Had other tourists arrived so stealthily that I had not heard them descend via the stone steps? I opened my Continue reading