Inside Cenote — the entrance to the underground world of Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsula is a huge limestone platform of 165,000 square kilometers, one of the largest karst terrains in the world, and thousands of kilometers of underground rivers and lakes, one of the most spectacular underground aquifers on the planet. I have.

This hidden aquatic world is primarily the result of a rare encounter between space and Earth’s matter — a giant meteorite that collided with our planet 65 million years ago.

When the Chikshlube meteor shower struck the peninsula, the impact was so great that the fragile limestone in the area cracked, cracked and pierced, and virtually all surface water was dark and under the sunless caves and tunnels. It flowed into the world and the underground world was created. Unique on earth.

This complex underground river and cave system finds an entrance to the arid land above, via a sinkhole or cenote. Thirty years ago, scientists recorded the existence of about 7,000 cenotes on the peninsula. today, Some believe that real numbers may be twice that number.

I recently visited one of these mind-boggling cenotes, locally known as Templo Mayor.

Among the countless creatures in this darkness are the winding underground systems of karst terrain, bats and blind fish. Bejil-Ha

“Welcome to the world of Batman,” Ainer Medina proudly tells me, crouching so as not to hit her head against the limestone layer. I will follow him to the Cenote community of Chemil in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Medina is the leader of the Bezilha Water Pass. This is an eco-tourist group of young men and women dedicated to the community, Mexico, and our planet.

This was the first trip to the underground world of Mexico (and Maya) and the first close encounter with Cenote, which Maya called “the abyss-the abyss and the abyss.” My first contact with these water holes along the long way that all Mexicans have to travel on our posthumous journey.

Underground is the entrance to the underground world of Mexico. The traveling soul of the dead is projected on the stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave and the stalagmites rising from the floor. Located in the heart of the Maya jungle.

Cenote is our red blood, mahogany skin, mouth, eyes and lungs. A place where the souls of our ancestors rest. And cenotes are all the creatures they house. Blind white women and other blind fish. They are also uncolored sponges, bivalves and crustaceans. Cenote is a toad, also known as an iguana, toad, swallow, and turquoise motmot.

And cenote Xibalbanus tulumensisA small, blind, toxic, hermaphroditic crustacean whose ancestral distribution is associated with the ancient Tethys Ocean.By that name, it respects XibalbaMaya’s Underworld — A world in which we will be lost forever if these damp sinkholes did not exist to guide us.

“Let’s make eternal darkness,” Medina tells us. Submerged in the center of Cenote, 12 meters below the woodlands, we turn off a small lamp. We go through darkness and silence.

What my wide open eyes see is an infinite fusion of eternal darkness and eternal light. A state of grace, dying without dying, indescribable peace, infinite tranquility. I’m floating on the surface of the water and trying to close my eyes, but it makes no difference in the eternal darkness.

While submerged in my chest, I slowly moved my left hand toward the water, feeling it moving in the air independently of the rest of my body, and until I entered the water, the boundary between the air and the water was just a mirage.

To reach the heart of the cenote, we swim under a dome surrounded by similar cave products Tyrannosaurus Rex Jaw: They are stalactites hanging from the roof and stalagmites growing from the floor. Both have grown drop by drop in opposite directions over millions of years.

Above, each irregular, sharp cone has a central channel through which mineral water flows very slowly. Below is a solid form that is rounded like macaroni and constructed drop by drop.

Each stalactite and stalagmite is born from a drop of mineral water. A layer of mirror-like rock that seeks each other, slowly applying gravity towards the geological kisses of the Earth. They are the shadows and yangs of the Mexican underground world.

Templo Mayor Cenote, Quintana Roo
When a bat hits the formation of a cenote, the sound is musical, says Einner Medina of Bejil-Ha–Water Path. Bejil-Ha

As you swim, you can see the thin roots of poplar coming down from the jungle everywhere. Cenote is a garden that immediately floats and hangs.

“Listen to cenote,” says Medina. She sharpens her hearing, but she can’t hear anything.

Suddenly, you’ll feel the heat pushed away by the non-bird flapping, and you’ll hear the unmistakable sound of long, membranous bat wings. As you pass by, you will smell the sweet and sour breath.

And another bat and another, and more paths, the chiropteran matrix. The guardians of Cenote say we are in their territory. They recommend that they follow our movements and ideas, and that we continue to respect our intentions as we are full of their mercy in this eternal darkness. Warn us.

But to my surprise, I finally realized that all sounds, smells and movements were illusions. There aren’t many bats. It is only the same curious individual who appreciates our existence and goes around us over and over again.

I can’t see anything, but with my eyes wide open, I enjoy the sound of its wings and the scent of misunderstood and evil night-flying creatures. And a planetary champion who devours insects, sows seeds, and pollinates plants. Fortunately, the only winged mammal that has conquered the entire globe except Antarctica.

Medina gets in the way of my thoughts. “It’s nothing, Omar. Come back soon and hear the sound of the bells as many bats are flying and their wings hit the stalactites.”

I can’t imagine anything as brilliant as a bat symphony in the underground world of Mexico.

A few seconds after turning the lamp back on, you will see bubbles on the surface of the cenote.What I saw brings me back to the memories of the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: Space journey And my favorite James Bond movie, Thunderball..

Just 10 meters from us, two lost underground angelic divers in silver wetsuits are pulled into the water by a small propulsion vehicle with powerful lamps. I am.

At first, I thought I was hallucinating because of insufficient oxygen levels in the cave. Then I thought the diver was an alien from another galaxy. Finally, I thought I was dead and started my path to Xibalba.

Seeing my surprise, Medina calmed me down and explained that they are a couple of speleologists spending their lives studying and protecting cenote and underground rivers.

Templo Mayor Cenote, Quintana Roo
Each cenote stalactite and stalagmite is born from a drop of mineral water. Bejil-Ha

It’s time to say goodbye to the doorway of the underworld. From the entrance of the flooded cave, look again at the sun’s rays coming in from the axis of brilliance where the sky meets the underworld, beyond Cenote.

Through the diving mask, you can lift your head off the surface of the water and finally get a glimpse of the sun’s illuminations on a small rock platform. This is a natural shelf that seems to have served as a meditative place for Mayan emperors and priests, and only the shining places are visible. For those who are convinced that the boundary between air and water is just an illusion.

  • Thanks to Einner Medina for teaching me how to go through the eternal darkness and listen to cenote. All photos and videos used in this essay belong to his group. Visit their website, A place where you can learn how to listen to cenote yourself.

Scientist Omar Vidal is a professor at a university in Mexico, a former senior officer of the United Nations Environment Program, and a former director of the World Wildlife Fund (Mexico). Inside Cenote — the entrance to the underground world of Mexico

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