The north of the Yucatan peninsula I visited is one of the areas where the Mayan civilization prospered.
Some cities such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Mayapan were built during the same era (Wikipedia).
Talking about heritages, I think the most widely-known heritages are Chichen Itza, Tulum and Coba. I would like to introduce Chichen Itza and Tulum.
I hope you can learn something new.
■ Where is Chichen Itza and what is that exactly?
Chichen Itza is one of the heritages of Maya’s civilization.
Chichen Itza means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza” and it is the symbol of Maya’s sacrifices civilization.
After it was registered as a world heritage in 1988, it has been visited by so many people like during that time when I visited.
It is located just in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula.
You can apply for a tour going to Chichen Itza in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen.
I was asked to join a tour many times by touts when I walked on streets and they all have the tour going to Chichen Itza.
So you don’t need to book a tour in advence. However, since the prices are different, you should check some shops and compare.
I went to Chichen Itza from Cancun by a bus and I remember it probably took about 3 hours.
We went to a souvenir shop and had lunch there on the way to Chichen Itza.
All stuff were exactly like Mexico.
Do you know what this is?
At first, I thought it is just a wall with many faces carved on it but the tour guide said these each face is Maya’s hieroglyph.
We can guess the same face has the same meaning. I thought it was awesome that someone carved exactly the same face.
■ A pyramid which symbolizes Maya’s civilization, El Castillo
The first thing that you see in Chichen Itza is this.
This is the most famous pyramid named El Castillo. It is said that it worships Kukulcan, the Maya’s supreme god.
It was my first time to see a pyramid in my life. The weather is perfect and also the scene is so great, isn’t it?
A building behind Castillo is Temple de los Guerreros.
There are 91 steps on the staires on each of the four sides around Castillo. When we include the last one step to the God temple, the total number of steps is 365, corresponding to the days of a year.
The god Kukulkan is like a sneak with wings.
It is a little bit hard to see but there are heads of Kukulkan under the stairs on the lower right corner of this picture.
Actually the suprising thing about this pyramid is the way that Kukulkan appears during equinox. The position of the sun creates a shadow in the corner of pyramid which looks like the shadow body of Kukulkan. It seems like Kukulcan comes out of the pyramid. This is known as Kukulkan’s advent.
We can notice the fine design of the people who lived in this era are.
If you are interested, look up the Kukulkan’s advent.
■ Temple de los Guerreros
Next is Temple de los Guerreros.
Chacmool is lying at the upper entrance of temple.
As I already explained on my previous article about cenotes, it symbolizes the dead warriors and brings offerings such as sacrifices to god.
A thousand stone pillars surround the temple. Becase of this, it is called “Group of the Thousand Columns”. I don’t know if there are exactly a thousand pillars.
There are so many wild iguanas everywhere.
■ Playing Field
It is said people offered sacrifices so that they could get the blessing of the sun in the Mayan civilization.
In their civilization, being sacrificed was a very honorable thing and people decided who will be sacrificed by playing ball game.
I think you are wondering what king of game they played. It is said that the game was like soccer and basketball put together and split in half. It is a one-game match in which players are not allowed to use hands to shoot a ball into a basket hoop. The ball was made of rare tube.
I guess that winner became sacrificed since it was a very honorable thing. It was very wonderful that as I was standing on the playing field that prospered in the Mayan era, I imagined for a while how people played the game during that era.
Next time, I am going to write about Tulum heritage!
The article I write is still about Mexico diving. I had written about cenote until today but I would like to write about the Caribbean Sea this time especially Cozumel which is one of the famous oceans in the Caribbean Sea.
Have you ever heard of Cozumel island?
Cozumel island is a small island located in Southeast of Playa Del Carmen.
You can get to Cozumel from Playa Del Carmen by a boat. There is a scheduled boat and it takes about 45 minutes to get to each place.
This is a ferry in Playa Del Carmen. The scheduled boat goes and comes from here 17 times a day. I remember the inside of the boat was too cold because the airconditioner was too much.
This is a picture after landing in Cozumel.
You can see a big cruise ship over there in this picture. There are many cruise ships stop near this island. In Japan, the number of cruise travelers from abroad is increasing especially Kyushu such as Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Okinawa nowadays but I think if it is compared with that in Cozumel, the number is very different.
According to an instructor, it is getting an island for only travelers. I also felt the biggest industry here must be tourism industry because the most of the shops there are Souvenir shops rather than local shops.
We moved to an another ferry to go to the first diving point.
■ San Francisco Wall
The first diving point is San Francisco Wall! But actually we were not supposed to dive there. We could not move due to engine trouble and the closest diving point was San Francisco Wall.
The feature of San Francisco Wall is drift diving with the strong tide and steep gradient.
Our instructor was not willing to let us dive there because it is for advanced divers and we do not have enough experiences. But since we could not move he seemed like it cannot be helped.
Under water world is like this.
This can show how Caribbean Sea is! Beautiful!
The color of this fish is amazing. Since the tide is very fast and strong, it was hard to stay to take pictures.
You can see how San Francisco Wall’s tide is fast and gradient is steep.
I could see a wild Spotted Eagle Ray swimmig gracefully. Some thought he swims very slow but I took this video following him as fast as I could. Actually the speed was pretty fast.
I was lucky that I could see him at the end of first diving!
■ Paradise Reef
After San Francisco Wall diving, we moved to the next diving point, Paradise Reef. The engine trouble was solved, we could get there as scheduled.
The instructor said that there are some fish which live only in the Carribean sea and Cozumel, I was certain that I could see them because I was lucky I could see a Spotted Eagle Ray at the first diving. It was strange confidence.
As you see this point is also very beautiful!
This is taken at about 5 meter depth from surface.
This is the view of about 15 meter depth the sand was so white.
As I thought I was lucky on this day and I could see rare species fish such as spotted drum.
Some probably think how he swims because of his wired body shape.
Because of this cute swimming it’s said an idol fish of Caribbean Sea.
I also could see a fish which lives only in Cozumel, Splendid toadfish.
Many people thought it doesn’t look special but there are so many divers who come to Cozumel to only look for it.
I was just very lucky to two of rare fish in only a day. Also I saw schools of fish.
And big groupers.
I had seen them only in an aquarium, the feeling watching them not through glass was very different.
I ran into them accidently in this vast ocean. I felt a little bit of fear when this huge fish was coming closer. Watching them closer, feeling of the texture of their scales and finding they don’t look like they are afraid but they pay attention to us, It was just amazing.
If you go to Cancun or Playa Del Carmen, please go to Cozumel as well!
It was very difficult to take pictures in the deep part because it is not bright enough when compared to the shallow part and water pressure gets stronger so if you press the shutter button once, it doesn’t come up for a while.
A few meters from the bottom of Cenote El Pit, there is a layer of hydrogen sulfide. That sounds dangerous but air comes from the air tank and even I went through the layer, it was totally ok. It was like swimming in and above clouds. One of my favorite cenotes.
■ Cenote: Dos Ojos
After the diving at cenote El Pit, we went to cenote Dos Ojos which is very popular among divers.
The meaning of Dos Ojos is “two eyes” in Spanish. As it means, there are two diving routes. We call them “the first eye” and “the second eye” and I dove at the first eye.
There were so many snorkelers at the second eye.
The view just after entry is like this.
There is nothing which the other cenotes have such as a layer of hydrogen sulfide or halocline and so on but it is said that the water here is clearer than the others. You can see a diver who is over 100 meters away.
You can realize how popular it is among divers. Including snorkelers, people come from all over the world.
People enjoy the cave exploring more than seeing lights here. Exploring and swimming in the cave feel very fresh because we usually enjoy just seeing the inside of the caves by walking and if you swim you can see the things that you cannot see if you walk like a stone pillar extending from the ceiling and shell fossils buried in rocks. And you can see them closer.
Since the water is so clear you can feel as if they were just flying or floating.
It was incredible. I do recommend cenote Dos Ojos a lot.
But it is crowded when you dive sometime. When I dove here it was before noon but as you can see in some pictures it was a little bit crowded.
Each cenote has a best time to be seen the most beautiful because of the relationship between the shape of the holes of ceilings and the sunrise. If you don’t like to dive into the crowded cenote, you should talk to your instructor and they will probably suggest the best time.
■ Cenote: Chacmool
Finally, this is the last cenote that I can recommend and it is Cenote Chacmool.
Wikipedia says the meaning of Chacmool is the term used to refer to a particular form of pre-Colombian Mesoamerican sculpture depicting a reclining figure with its head facing 90 degrees from the front, supporting itself on its elbows and supporting a bowl or a disk upon its stomach.
According to our instructor, this sculpture is the symbol of the dead soldiers and it is said that it brings sacrifices to the god of Maya.
Since the sun appeared and disappeared on the day I dove here, I could see and enjoy both of the views of the dark cenote and the bright cenote. It also has the beautiful light curtain.
This picture is when the sun disappears. You can find it is dark but the blue color is still beautiful.
This is when the sun appears. Comparing with the one before this picture, the brightness is very different. One of the best pictures: a diver in the middle of the light curtain.
A diver crossing over the light curtain. This is one of my most favorite pictures.
The route I dove here is called “Kukulcan” which means “a snake has feather” in Maya and it is a god in Maya myth.
I would like to introduce each of the cenotes that I dove into in this article.
I mentioned that cenote is in Yucatan. But do you know where it is?
Yucatan is in the Southeast side of Mexico.
I went there from Narita Airport (NRT) to Cancun Airport (CUN) passing through Dallas Airport (DWF). The travel took a total of about 15 hours.
I wrote that I dove at 6 different cenotes in my last article. Let me get right down to introducing them.
■ Cenote: Chikin Ha
My first cenote diving was at Chikin Ha cenote.
The meaning of the name Chikin Ha is “water of the west”. The meaning of “Ha” is water.
However, even the people do not know the west where people see from.
Checking on this map, Chikin Ha is located on the east side of Yucatan and south of Playa del Carmen.
The underwater scene is like this.
This rock looks like lions back to back. People check the route before entry and this rock is one of the sightseeing spots in Chikin Ha cenote. Try to look for this when you go there.
Light of laser beam. One of the lights that come into Chikin Ha cenote spreads like a curtain. Another is like a laser beam (like in this picture). You can enjoy two types of light style.
The lower parts of the middle of this picture are blurry. This phenomenon happens where ocean water and freshwater meet each other. This line is called halocline. The water under the halocline is ocean water while the water above it is freshwater. The temperatures of these two water types are very different. The ocean water is warmer than the freshwater.
I remember I was absorbed with taking pictures being so impressed by this totally clear water and beautiful light at my first cenote diving.
■ Cenote: El Eden
After diving at Chikin Ha, I moved to a different cenote called El Eden.
The instructor told us that we could see the most beautiful curtains of sunlight here. That made me wonder how beautiful it is and I got really excited.
El Eden is also located at the south of Playa del Carmen. This is how the underwater world looks like.
A massive curtain was there. Since it is in the inner parts of the cave, people who snorkel cannot see this view.
If you see this beautiful curtain through the halocline, it would look like this.
As the instructor said, the amount of light in El Eden is much more than that in Chikin Ha. If you desire to see the best and biggest curtain underwater, I recommend you to see it here! The view is beyond your imagination!!
■ Cenote: Tajima Ha
The third cenote I dove was Tajima Ha. Even the instructor did not know the meaning of this name but he said it was originally called Taji Mahal and since the meaning of Ha is water, many people changed the way to call it. I do not know the fact though.
The underwater view is like this.
Green trees are so beautiful.
In Tajima Ha cenote, there is no light curtain that spread long like in El Eden cenote. But there is a very interesting light that you can see only here.
Two laserbeams of light from small holes of the cave. This is very unique and attractive. If the sun is hidden by a cloud, it would disappear. Then it would appear again.
I enjoyed that a lot.
Each cenote I dove has this , which means stop.
Only a diver who has special certification can go beyond this sign. I was wondering what is in the inner part but this sign is very scary.
I introduced the different cenotes in this article. Now you know that each cenote is different. I am going to write about the other cenotes next time. Please look forward to that!
I love to travel and usually go abroad twice a year.
The reason why I started to blog is I want to leave records of my life and share the experiences and knowledge with people who have the same values.
Everyone wants to enjoy their trip and see the world they have not known yet. My goal of blogging is sending those people even a little useful information.
So the content I write is based on my own experiences and the pictures I use are those I took.
I am going to write about Mexico, which is the country I traveled to most recently. I am going to write especially about Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
I went there in March 2017. Currently, more people are going there from Japan for their honeymoon. It seems to be getting popular among Japanese people.
The reason I chose this country was I had been wanting to see the real cenote for myself since I read the magazine and knew the existence of cenote(maybe). I thought to myself I have to see that before I die!! haha
Cenote is famous and a lot of divers go there from all over the world. Do you know what cenote is?
■What is cenote?
Please check this video at first!
It is said that there are over 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. What I thought when I dove there was that it is a limestone cave with full water. (There is no such place in Japan)
Cenotes are natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock.
Cenote means “Holy spring” in Maya. The holy spring appearance looks like this.
You can see the rocks under the water. This is the entry place of Cenote Chikin Ha.
The entry of another cenote called El Eden’s entry is like this.
Comparing with Chikin Ha, it is very different. I dove at 6 different cenotes during this trip.
We were told the route after checking how the entry place was.
Since it is cave diving, people might die if they dive on a wrong route.
We made sure of the location of the stops and the curtains of light on the map.
The Cenote Tajima Ha’s map is like this.
This one is the map of Cenote El Pit.
■Finally, dream come true! Diving into cenotes!
After checking the route, we finally dove into cenotes!
The first thing that surprised me was the totally clear water. You can see people who are over 300 feet away.
The water’s color is so beautiful. I felt a little bit cold at the very first moment but got used to the temperature soon.
And the second thing that surprised me was the number of divers. Divers came from all over the world to see cenotes.
Advancing deep into the cenote.
■This is how beautiful cenotes are!
You can see how beautiful cenote water is from the pictures I uploaded. But I am sure cenotes are most beautiful and attractive when sunlight comes into the water and creates curtains of light.
I went to Mexico to see the curtains all the way from Japan. And that was more amazing than I expected.
Each curtain of light is different. Some of them can be seen near the entry places while some are in the inner parts of the cave.
As you can see the curtain’s style is also interesting. One of the curtains is like a laser beam.
The pictures may not be able to show it but these curtains are always moving, which makes the scene more beautiful. I was so impressed that I had goosebumps.
There are many people who came to snorkel at cenotes. But the really beautiful views are in the inner parts of the cave. So those people cannot see it. Therefore, I definitely recommend diving if you go to cenotes.
I will be so glad if my article makes readers even a little bit interested in cenotes. I want to go back to Mexico while writing this article.haha