"The Yucatan has no rivers and no lakes" our guide declared "but only underground rivers and sink-holes the Mayans called Say-No-Tays (Cenotes)". Swimming in the Ik-Kil cenote, where the Red Bull Cliff Diving competitions are held each year, was one of my favorite activities in Mexico.
It was still early in the day, but I was already hot and sweaty from the heat and humidity of the Yucatan. After making my way through the gauntlet of vendors selling Mayan textiles, carvings, figures, jewelry and tequila, I rented a locker, changed into my swimming suit, and stood under the cold shower they require of all guests before making my way to the top of the cenote.
"Cuidado!" (Be careful!) said the security guard at the top of the 90 stone stairs I needed to descend to get from ground to water level. Grabbing the chain that served as a handrail, I slowly made my way down the steps, wishing I'd worn my shoes so my tender feet could move faster.
When I reached the water level, I found big crowds there. Many were just observing their friends and family swim, and others were waiting to jump off the steps at the side of the cenote.
Not wanting to fight the crowd to the ladders where I could slowly climb in the refreshing water, instead I jumped in: makeup and hair be damned!
Looking up at the tree roots hanging down from the earth above me, I felt a little claustrophopic as I swam.
If you ever get a chance to swim in a cenote, jump in!