Tulum, Mexico – The Yucatan Peninsula is dotted with cenotes, which are “natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, which has revealed a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools,” according to Lonely Planet writer Pilip Tang. Essentially, it’s a gateway to a vast network of underground rivers and canyons — and the ancient Maya believed it was the passageway to the underworld, or Xibalba. How cool is that?
Dos Ojos is one of the world’s longest underwater cave system (top three by some counts), coming in at almost 200 miles long. The name, which means “Two Eyes”, refers to the two side-by-side cenotes that peer into this mysterious underworld.
We took the twins snorkeling at Dos Ojos, promising that they would see the entrance to Xibalba. They were psyched.
The water in the cenotes is a cool 77°F. It is shockingly clear, revealing schools of little fish, fantastic stalactites and stalagmites, and dark caverns that invite further exploration. Of course, the only way to explore further is to strap on an oxygen tank and dive deeper — which I did the following day and it was amazing — but the twins had to satisfy themselves with peering in from afar and using their imaginations to guess why lay beyond.
As always, they reacted very differently to this experience. Twin S accompanied me to the farthest corners of the cavern (at least as far as we could go). We swam around and through the rock formations, and spied on the divers as they forayed further into the caves. Their flashlights shone on eerie limestone figures standing guard; but otherwise it was dark, so dark.
By contrast, Twin V preferred to stay in the shallows and chase the little fish. He said he was too cold to swim in the deeper water, but I suspected he was spooked by the darkness and the depths.
Until later, when he started grilling me about when he can get his Scuba diving license. “You’re the only one who really got to see the entrance to the underworld,” he complained.
All in good time, my little friend, all in good time.