During my most recent visit to Merida, my hometown, I went on a day trip to a small town called Chochola, where a famous cenote is open to the public. I had never photographed a Cenote, so this was my first chance to write about another kind of lake.
If you look closely at a map of the Yucatan peninsula you notice that there are no visible bodies of water. But it does rain. So some might wonder, where is all the water? It is underground, in a well-connected net of rivers and lakes of all sizes, most not very far from the surface. Rain water filtrates through the limestone that forms the peninsula’s land into caves that are at times breathtaking. Cenotes are very special for the color of the water and the rock formations that grow over hundreds of years.
If you own land in Yucatan and a cenote lies underneath it, you are free to extract water out of it for your consumption and if it’s worth for the world to see, you can build a tourist attraction around it. That’s what happened with Cenote San Ignacio in Chocola.
From the central plaza we walked four blocks until we got to the property entrance. We payed the free and started going down the stairs.
Some cenotes have natural skylights, but this one is 99% enclosed, so artificial lighting has been setup along the perimeter to allow for visitants to enjoy its beauty. This is the view from a corner:
The water is cold if compared to the Caribbean beaches, but warm enough for people of all ages to come here and swim. I took the above picture right before a family entered the scene.
This is a close-up view, with the natural emerald color.
Some cenotes are completely open because at some point their limestone vaults fell, like the one in Chichen Itza. They look like sunken lakes. I’ll visit one of them next time.
This is the last picture I have, one in which you can observe the detailed carving in the vault’s ceiling.