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Tuesday 2 Dec
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Snorkellng a crystalline cenote

In the morning Nicholas drove us to a cenote in his wonderfully old white VW Beetle. He is planning on doing a big road trip from Mexico to Argentina in it next year. He dropped us off at the ‘Gran Cenote’ and lent us his snorkels. It was one of the most amazing places I have ever seen.

A cenote (from Yucatec Mayadzonot or ts'onot, "well") is a natural pit, or sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestonebedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. The term derives from a word used by the low-land Yucatec Maya, "Ts'onot" to refer to any location with accessible groundwater.

This region in Mexico is full of them and apparently they were seen by Mayans as a portal to the spiritual world. They have crystal clear fresh water,  this one had little fish and turtles living in them and the effects of the daylight shooting down through the water is absolutely breath-taking.  Seeing the huge rocks and stalactites was awesome- it looked like a fish-tank. We snorkelled around the cenote for the morning- it was simply beautiful.

We got a taxi part way back into town (there isn’t really a local bus service here it is all taxi’s) and then walked the rest of the way stopping to try some quesadillas and tamales. We said goodbye to Nicholas and caught the bus up the coast to Playa del Carmen and found a hostel to stay in (in a dorm room- all the hotels are flashy holiday places). The heavens opened and the rain came down for a while. It is very different here- there is a main strip with all sorts of tourist shops, bars and restaurants- very much catering to American holiday makers. It is a bit overwhelming we haven’t been anywhere like it on our trip yet. At one end of the tourist street there is a Rolex shop(!!) The beach is right in town and is a beautiful white sand long beach. We ate some fajitas at a little local place and chilled in the hostel.

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