I recently had the opportunity to visit the Riviera Maya, located in the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula, thanks to a trip sponsored by Tres Rios Resort. During my stay, I participated in a wide variety of experiences, some good and some not as good. The one activity though that produced an indelible mark on the trip for me was a remarkable experience in the Cenote Aguila.
What is a Cenote?
After a plunge into a lagoon at the base of the cenote, we all donned our snorkel gear and prepared to enter another world. I’ve snorkeled in a lot of areas around the world, but nothing was quite like this experience. First of all, the cenote is deceptively swift. The current leads to the ocean and carries swimmers along at a pretty fast rate. This is actually perfect for snorkelers as you don’t have to do anything except course correct once in a while.
Unlike complex coral reefs with their vibrant fish and lots of marine activity, the cenote, like the Riviera Maya itself, is more laid back. The first thing I noticed were all of the mangrove roots. I had seen these trees before, but never underwater and was mesmerized by the thorny roots jutting into the water.
As we slowly made our way down the faux river, I began to notice crabs and fish darting around looking for food. Above our heads was a rich foliage that created a dome over the cenote, making the sensation of being in another world even more palpable. Floating downstream also produced another unintended consequence – introspection.
Unlike other activities designed to force the participant to achieve a Zen moment (which they rarely do) floating down the cenote automatically creates a quiet, peaceful environment in which to ponder the universe. It was a marvelous experience and it only reinforced my firm belief in the importance of ecotourism and why we must save these natural treasures.
A few yards from the finish point, I looked down for a last time to observe the world below. As the rays of light dappled across my back, the effect was mesmerizing. Below me on the floor of the cenote was my shadow, surrounded by the sunlight twinkling in the water. I moved my arms up and down and was delighted to see that like a kid falling into a snowbank, I had created my own water angel there in the cenote. It was one of those perfect moments that happen on trips that can never be planned, but are always treasured.
I hated to leave the cenote, even though the promise of a cold beer and grilled meats was seriously tempting. I stood there, waist deep in the water, memorizing the scene and enjoying my own personal moment of utter contentment.