Nat Geo and Bizarre Cenote Connections
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
When you are getting ready to do some research and the Universe conspires to help you, you follow the bread crumb trail...no matter where it might lead!
A few weeks ago, I submitted an application to National Geographic for a grant to do some research on Maya Mysteries. I really have no idea if I will receive the grant, but the research is already taking on a life of its own. It is almost as if there are secrets that WANT to be uncovered, as if the secrets themselves are leaving clues so I can find them.
On my application, I needed to include someone local to this area (I am in the Riviera Maya in Mexico). The local team member would serve as a local liaison to help us more deeply connect with local culture and help us navigate the jungles of the Yucatan. Since some of the stories (check out Sebriano and The Dragon here ) I want to track down take place in cenotes, I immediately thought of my friend Noe who is local, speaks great English so he can help me with translations, and is an accomplished cave diver. He is currently mapping unexplored cenotes, which I think is incredibly exciting. (PHOTO: Left to Right. Nick, Noe and Joanna)
Recently, Noe and my friend Joanna explored a 150 ft deep cenote called Maravilla on private land close to Puerto Morelos. The photos they came back with are breathtaking. Here is one of Joanna ascending into the light.
NOTE: For those of you who don't know, a cenote is a natural opening to the vast water-filled cave system that lies beneath the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The caves are sacred to the Maya people and are considered to be the entrance to Xibalba, the Maya underworld...sort of a path to the afterlife. Sacrificial items including jade, gold, obsidian, weapons, tools, pottery, and even human remains have been found in the cenotes, including over 3,000 skeletons in one cenote alone!
I have been interested in the cenotes and their stories for years. Long before I ever set foot in Mexico I dreamed about what secrets the water-filled tunnels might hold. In 1987, Michael Madden of CEDAM International Dive Center established the CEDAM Cave Diving Team to focus on underwater cave exploration on the Yucatan. I remember seeing the photos in the National Geographic Magazine of the surreal stalactites and stalagmites in crystal clear water. Breathtaking! Even then, I felt drawn to this mystical cave system and I wondered what it must have been like for Michael and his team to explore the unknown reaches beneath the Yucatan.