22.08.2012 - 24.08.2012
On Wednesday we left Palenque and the Chipas region of Mexico and headed to Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula. Even though we left early it was about an 8 hour bus trip so we arrived in Merida late afternoon. We went for a walk around town which had a beautiful square and then had dinner with everyone before heading to bed.
On Thursday we had decided to do a tour with the rest of our group to a few of the local cenotes. There are thousands of cenotes or sinkholes located in this area formed when it use to be covered by sea. The Mayans saw the sinkholes as a passage into the underworld so they used it for religious ceremonies and for offerings to gods. So after breakfast we headed about an hour out of town.
We arrived and then boarded our transport to the cenotes. This consisted of a horse pulling a cart on rails. It was quite a fun ride but you really needed to hold on as we built up quite a bit of speed and there were a few sharp corners during the journey. After about 20 minutes we reached our first cenote. It had a big cave like entrance with a set of stairs leading down into it. We got ready and dove into the crystal clear water. With the lighting the water looked deep blue. We swam around for a while before going up the back of the cenote to have a look at the opening to an underwater cave. Unfortunately we couldn't go in as it is only for qualified divers but it was still a beautiful place to experience.
We then hopped back on to our carts for the ride to the second cenote. This cenote had more of a closed entrance of about 5m in diameter. We were able to look through the hole to see the water about 10m below before we climbed down into it. Once again it was a stunningly beautiful place. We were enjoying swimming around when a couple of the boys decided to jump off the top of the cenote into the water below. Hosea went first and as soon as I saw the local guide swimming over to where he landed in the water I knew there must be trouble. He had dislocated his shoulder as the impact of the water threw his arm up and out of place. We helped get him out of the water where Diana inspected his arm. Luckily we had a doctor on our trip! It was decided to take him to hospital where they could get pain medication for him. So Hosea, Diana and our tour leader headed off to hospital.
The injury put a bit of a dampener on everyones spirits but we still headed to the 3rd cenote. This one had a very tiny hole to enter, just big enough to fit through. It had about a 15m ladder to climb down before you reached a small platform. It was much darker in this cenote as there was only one small hole in the roof besides the entrance hole. But the shaft of light provided an eerie ambiance. We stayed in there for about 20 minutes until it started raining.
We then headed back to the van and picked the other 3 up from the local clinic. Luckily Hosea's shoulder was back in place and they managed to get so pain medication for him. We then headed to a local hacienda for lunch. Hacienda's are traditional houses on agricultural estates. The one we visited was very beautiful. We sat in a big dining room overlooking the property. The specialty was rabbit so both Alex and I got it for lunch. It was really delicious. Afterwards we had a walk around the property which included a tour of the rabbit hutches where they farm rabbits for use in the restaurant onsite and to also to sell meat. It was a bit morbid looking at all the cute rabbits after having them for lunch but I guess that is the circle of life and they are so damn tasty.
On the way back into town we drove down Paseo Montejo which was filled with stunning mansions.
That night we opened a few bottles of the Mezcal we had all bought in Oaxaca for some pre drinks in the hotel. We had our very tasty passion-fruit Mezcal and some of David's normal Mezcal with the worm. And yes I ate part of the worm! Alex also brought out one of the cigars we had from Cuba to smoke. We then headed out for another walk around town. While exploring we got to see the local souvenir of choice, highly decorated live beetles. Apparently you buy then to wear as a brooch! None of us were that hungry as we had a big lunch so just got gorditas which are tortillas stuffed with different fillings and sat in benches in the park and ate them. We then had a marquesitas for desert which was like a hard crepe filled with nutella. A perfect end to a wonderful day.
Next stop the Caribbean beachside paradise of Playa del Carmen!