One of the highlights of my recent trip to Cancun was the adventure trail of cenotes. It was an excellent fusion of Mayan/Mexican culture with action. A cenote is a natural pit, sink hole or well. Some are similar to caves, others are wide, open spaces mixed with water and plant life. In this excursion, we visited four cenotes, each named after an element in the Mayan language. Every cenote is guarded by an alux (pronounced aloosh), which are small creatures that Mayans believed protected their jungles. 4 cenotes. 4 aluxes. 4 adventurous activities.
The full video is below. But first, here’s a short lesson and summary of each stop.
1. Lu’um is Mayan for “Earth”. This cenote has a small opening, like a doorway, leading to a larger underground space. Below are tunnels, caves and water. Here, we rappelled into the cave, then jumped off one of the cliffs into the cool water. Before descending, I was a little nervous. All of a sudden, I was afraid of heights. But once the ropes were latched onto me, the adrenaline kicked in. Fear no more. Going down, I even did a flip. Ok, a half flip. But I still impressed myself. Alux Lu’um is the most playful of them all. Somewhere between the walk to getting strapped in and my gymnastics move, I think we joined forces.
2. lik’ means “wind”. With centotes, the older they are, the larger the opening. lik’ is much older than Lu’um, so it is very open. What’s the best way to embody wind in a large, open area? Flying on zip lines of course. By this stop, I was in full-on adventure mode. Hesitation gone. Part of me wanted push to go first. But I resisted. Instead, I zip lined not once, not twice, but thrice. Alux lik’ is the unpredictable, maybe even volatile one, changing moods often. Thanks, for cooperating this day!
3. Ha’ is “water”. Rolling on the river, we were. And under. After snorkeling through the underwater gardens, we kayaked around the jungly landscape. Like water, Alux Ha’ is transparent and is said to like peace and sincerity. No surprise these activities were the most tranquil.
4. K’áak’. FIRE. Ending with a bang. This cenote is also open and like a scene from Jumanji. What did we do? Put on our Jane/George of the Jungle pants, climbed a 35-foot cliff and screeeeamed! Then jumped. Alux K’áak is the energetic, passionate one. I think we made him happy.
And here’s the video! (Be sure to change the YouTube setting in the bottom right of the video to HD for a clearer picture.) Enjoy.
Thank you Xenotes Oasis Maya for sponsoring the excursion! Not since watching Captain Planet as a youngster (and listening to the music group Earth, Wind and Fire) have a felt so excited about elements.