Capstone 2019: Los Siete Cenotes
I don’t often use this word to describe an experience but I’m going to go ahead and do it- magical. The Los Siete Cenotes trip was simply magical. About an hour and a half after leaving Merida we bumped down increasingly smaller roads ending at the former cattle ranch Los Siete Cenotes. So named for the seven cenotes on the vast property, the beautiful, rustic ranch is surrounded by lovely grounds including a swing, open sided palapa, raised deck, and walking paths.
We visited three of the four cenotes developed for visitors. After arriving we had light snacks and coffee before being outfitted with bikes and flotation belts. So began the Siete Cenotes mini-triathlon of biking, hiking and swimming. About a half mile ride and quarter mile walk we saw our first cenote where ziplines crossed 40 feet above the water. A steep, stone staircase carved into the craggy side of the cenote led to an even steeper set of wood stairs where our brave Erika leaped from up high. The water was the perfect temperature though covered with pollen and leaf litter. Catfish darted around us.
We biked back to the ranch for a gorgeous spread of fresh fruits and beverages before biking to the second cenote- Blue Butterfly. An astounding cerulean blue, the scene looked unreal with tree roots growing 50 feet down in the air to float in the water while feeding trees far above. Again brave jumpers had an assisted 50 or so foot jump harnessed to a mechanized rope into the water as well as unassisted jumps of varying heights on the stairs.
For me, the most amazing moment came under water. Rays of sunlight filtering through the trees crowded above would hit the surface of the blue waters and shards of light spread down to the darkness below. Masks allowed us to see the magical shimmering. It was mesmerizing.
We biked back to the ranch for the final cenote. We drank a special fermented Mayan beverage and coated our faces with black clay as the Mayans did, before descending in near total darkness into the closed cenote located under the grounds of the ranch house. We floated in the darkness lit only by our guide’s tiny flashlight looking at massive millennias-old stalagtites still growing drop by tiny drop of water right before our eyes.
After the final cenote we had a lovely meal on the open deck with the best flan I’ve had in Mexico. The day closed with a moving ceremony around a truly massive ceiba tree estimated to be 350-500 years old. It was a special end to a very special and magical day for everyone involved.