On our way up to the cenote we stopped briefly in Puerto Morelos at a road side taco stand and ate absolutely delicious chicken and beef tacos for only $10 pesos each (~ $0.80 USD). We would have preferred to have a nice sit down Thai meal at David Lao's on the square in Puerto Morelos but time would not allow. The tacos were quick and easy, and no one got sick to my knowledge so that roadside taco stand passes my health inspection.
The most remarkable moment meandering the tortuous dirt road to the cenote was the flock of wild boars that ran in front of the car. By the time I withdrew my camera from my front pocket they were gone. Everyone remarked at what a splendid treat it was to see the animals as no one in the group had previously seen boars in the wild. Additionally a couple of pheasants with shimmering blue tails ran across the road and then flew off, adding to the authenticity that we were really having a Mexican jungle adventure.
At the cenote entrance our passage was stopped by a rope across the road, which gave us pause to notice the sign to the left of the vehicle indicating we should disembark and ring the bell hanging next to the sign to be let in. Now this was certainly unique. However before I had the opportunity to get to the bell the cenote owner came out, collected the $100 peso per person entrance fee (~ $8 USD) and lowered the rope.
Once we exited the car and gathered our belongings surprisingly the owner led us on foot to the cenote and along the way provided us with a guided tour of the local flora. He pointed out the Chechem tree, which is highly poisonous and will cause a rash on anyone who dares to touch its bark or leaves. I thought we were done with such plants after leaving poison ivy behind in Massachusetts. He then pointed out another tree whose name escapes me who's sap is fatal. That is a shocker - growing in plain sight in the jungle.
Unfortunately we did not have time to traverse the whole 3km (~1.8 mile) nature trail which includes over 90 trees labeled and an accompanying map to help guests become familiar with the local vegetation. Picnic tables are also accessible where we could have brought our lunch and booze instead of having to eat on the road. Next time we return we are certainly going to bring a group, spend the day, picnic and meander along the tree trail.
The cenote itself is unique because it looks like a large open pond: the water is certainly not crystal clear. However, it does have 2 zip lines allowing for splash landings into the water. Both lines are rather slow and ideal for the less risky adventurous types. The cenote also offers 2 diving platforms both 5 meters high (~16 feet). The water is at least 14 meters deep (~46 feet) so there is no worry of hitting bottom.
We used the diving platform and zip line several times. Even though I have a spring board diving background, I only jumped as Allan does not allow me to dive - too risky as we do have a business to run. There is also a ladder down to the water for those who care not to dive/jump. Unfortunately there is no shallow end so those afraid of deep water should use the complimentary life vests or partake in the nature trail. We will certainly come back next time for a full day, so we won't be so rushed. The cenote is about a 45 minute drive from Playa del Carmen, so it is best to rent a car or hitch a ride with a friend if you don't have one yourself.
|The bell at the cenote entrance|
|The cenote owner in front of the Poisonous Chechem Tree|