OR GETTING TO SEE THE ENTRANCE TO THE MAYAN UNDERWORLD.
Although I lost my mojo for a few days, I gave myself a sharp talking to. I was beginning to get depressed. I think it was after being chased by the troupe of dogs in this neighbourhood which has now made me walk the long way round to my local shop. Add to that a lot of drunks and crack heads suddenly started to congregate around my street. This meant I couldn’t really go out after six unless I asked Charlie for a lift. I hate being beholden to people so this was getting me down. However all is well again with a few tweaks, I’m nothing if not adaptable.
Yesterday I pushed myself to go to two relatively close cenotes in the morning. Although slightly shitty weather I gritted my teeth and after my scrambly eggies went to get the collectivo and was on my way and sprightly after a few days in the doldrums.
The Cenote Crystal wasn’t that crystal when I went as the weather was a bit shit and two scuba divers were doing a weird survey at the bottom of my water hole and stirring things up a tad. There was a high jumping board which I swerved highly conscious of my knee being a bit dodgy again. I used my brand new snorkel set and had a look but it was pretty barren bar the two big fish doing there weird lurking at the floor of the cenote. I had a couple of swims but ended up chatting to a lovely Scot who has been living locally for years. He said how much it had changed from a sleepy backwater to a relatively busy town. I’ve noticed a lot of posh buildings going up and where my tiny cenote is there is a whole brand new area of very posh houses. Anyway he was very clued up about the area and it was nice to finally have human contact again, I had been making a strange hermit of myself. By the time I left there I saw there were great lumps of slimy pond weed bobbing up to the surface looking rather turd like. one of the boys was desperately scooping out with a net as if they were a few leaves in a swimming pool. Good luck with that mate I thought.
After a couple of hours I went onto Cenote Escondido. It’s over the highway and about a kilometre into the jungle. I had purchased tickets for the two as shown by my red wristband that they gave me and I walked through the gate and on a beautiful path to my new venue, and what a treat it was. I always like a bit of a hike through the jungle and when suddenly it opens up to a sparkling azure coloured strip of water it’s magic. The large cracked boulders under the surface reflected the light and made for a startling emerald green when seen through the water. I was surprised when I went down the very slippery steps that the water was brackish. Of course I found this up when I started to have a snorkel malfunction, no problem with the mask just the bloody snorkel, it seems to me one or the other always plays up. Anyway I still managed a really good look around at what was like an underwater garden in places with the big slabs of rock glittering with hundreds of tiny fish feeding off the algae on them. As they twisted around and showed their tiny silver bellies they glinted like the rock itself was undulating.
I swam into a small section at the side which looked a bit dark and scary but there were no fish to be found there. I noted that there were more learner scuba divers at the the end practising their craft. I just don’t know how people can do that it’s so dangerous and claustrophobic. This is a corridor of connecting cenotes marked with coloured arrows apparently showing the difficulty levels of the underwater cave explorations. My Scottish pal who is a professional diver had told me that two people had died at this particular cave system last year. I remembered him saying this as I looked into the dark abyss under the edges of this tranquil pool. Indeed as I was leaving I saw a large wooden cross in the ground which I presume was for them.
Around the steps I saw some slightly larger looking fish that were purple and gold ,and a whole load of little ones nibbling at the feet of a couple of Texan guys who were cooling their feet in the pristine water. As I emerged like a whale from under the water I had a chat with them. They indeed were enjoying their fishy pedicure and they were great company, getting cranky like me when more people turned up and rather ruined the tranquility. Nice to know that I’m not the only one who gets territorial about places, wanting to just enjoy the nature and peace of a beautiful space. Selfies abounded and a girl was about to put music on until we all glared at her. An English girl was also there solo and told me that she was leaving to go back to the UK after having arrived in December. She had delayed going back as her friends had said to her not to go back until she had to as things are so bad over there. She reckoned that there was only home quarantine not the expensive punishment of hotel quarantine (I’ve seen that they make you stay at a hundred pounds a night hotels that you have to pay for plus two tests. That amounts to nearly one and a half thousand pounds. Today I read that no leaving would be allowed from the UK for holidays with a whopping £5,000 if you try to escape. Whatever your views are, this is clearly an infringement on human rights. After another swim I walked back to the highway to wait for the next collectivo, not forgetting to have a wee under a tree in the jungle.
some fun facts.
- Cenotes are caves whose roofs collapsed. They are holes filled with water formed in the Pleistocene Age about 2.6 million years ago. There are about 12,000 in the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Cenotes and the Divine. They were used as shelters but more importantly to establish communication to the supernatural world. They were symbolic passageways between the earthly world and the netherworld, the region of Xibalba, the world of the dead. On their rims were temples for rituals for rain and fertility. Sacred objects were thrown in as tokens to Chaac the rain god. Until today Mayans, at Christmas and Easter, perform rituals at cenotes during which thanks are offered and requests are made.
- Sisal was known and used by the ancient Maya and used for cords, sacks, ropes and bags. According to legend it was a sacred plant discovered by the priest Zamna, founder of Chichen Itza who taught the use of this ancient plant (Ki). It has many properties, it can be used as vegetable, the juice is an excellent bleach, and it can be used to treat gonorrhea and snake bites. Fermented, it produces a tequila like drink. Very multifunctional.
- Trading networks in the peninsula included salt from Tulum, honey from Chichen Itza, cotton from Coba, ceramics from Muyil, feathers from Palenque, jade from Copan, basalt from Tikal, obsidian from Ixmilche, and tools from Altun-Ha.
- Creation of the world at Xel-Ha. The spirit of Hunahpu floated on the water when the gods came together to combine the best of them on a single point on the Earth. This was Xel-Ha a paradise on earth with emerald waters, fish of a thousand colours, jungle and white sand, where underground rivers mix with the salt of the sea.The gods very proud, set up three guardians to protect it. Kay-Op who watches over the waters, Huh for the verdant land and Chuc-Kay who preserves the backdrop of the blue sky. (The ruins of which are not open as I found out to my cost but there’s an adventure park with all the bells and whistles but you know me I want the bloody authentic ruins thankyou very much) Their belief was that the land was supposed to be a giant crocodile floating on the vastness of the world in whose centre an immense Ceiba tree nourished the realm of life with its sap. They believed the stars were turtles and scorpions and the moon a giant rabbit. As you can see they had a pretty wonderful way at looking at nature I’ll be writing a post of their mythology and gods later.
- The Ceiba. A sacred tree they believed grew through the three cosmic levels. The lowest kingdom of Xibalba, which was the home of the dead, night animals such as bats, owls, and jaguars. Some of the gods were found there too. Next the world we live in (i.e. that crocodile back we just talked about). Then heaven where the mother Ceiba spread her branches. Thirteen levels were also inhabited by various animals and supernaturals. The Maya thought of life as a battle between the good and the evil gods, the former provided lightening, rain, corn and abundance, the other famine, disease and war.
- Medicine. Another area I’ll dig more deeply later, but suffice it to say most of the trees and general flora were and still are used for cures. Every part of the tree has medicinal properties such as the Black Poisonwood, the Gumbo-Limbo or Chacah.
- Orchids. Yes for these ancient flowers you find 1,200 species used as a condiment and perfume.
- Huge coral reef on the Mayan Riviera. The second longest after the Australian Great Barrier Reef. Lots of fishes and turtles to be seen occasional manatees and dolphins too.
- That’s enough for the moment folks!
Away from the cenote it was boiling hot and I was starving, so I nipped back to my nest had a shower, made some pasta and went back out to try a new route back up to the main drag, it looked a safer bet, and it was. Apart from a police van outside that was a comfort (I think!) there were better locals and some good looking local shops. I did a recce of the new section of the highway walking on one side then upon arriving at the part I knew, crossed over to check the other side and to my joy found a lovely restaurant bar full of travellers who were completely up my street. This was more like it. Safe route from my place and very near and with a fabulous cheaper menu full of goodies. They sell organic food with all sorts of herbs and essential oils. One of which was “brain food” which evidently I need. Now I took photos of the menu and the people which have disappeared from my phone…. ahhhh just seen why, because I took them to send to my mate and they don’t come up in my photos, so weird. Anyhow now I’ve got them, have a butchers.
burrito amor, food and drinks for the soul.
The ethos of this place is simple. Some potions and food for well being and health. Normally I find these places a little twee but this one rocks and I had the best vegetarian meal in my life yesterday. I waddled home after. I had the bowl for digestion and it was excellent.
check out the mini dinosaurs getting macho.
Just something I saw and thought you might like! Totally going off piste but I saw them at Charlies sparring and had to show you.
Anyhow after not buying anything healthy I promised I’d be back after two very delicious mojitos My new route back was indeed a much safer and more pleasant a route. I came back refreshed and positive. An old bird needs to fly to new area to find happiness again. Just the day before I was so down and this fresh day with new thinking had reminded me how, when solo, you have to sometimes rethink your environment.
Top tip: Calm down and look for a fresh approach when you’re thinking “What the hell am I doing here?”. Small things can obscure your rational thinking when alone. Mad dogs, drunks and sudden loneliness will knock you back. Sadly it’s a part of the process of becoming a strong woman. It can’t always be perfect and you will have to find a new mindset. The problem now is that it’s harder to see the world that is your right to travel. If you get a bit down just think of me writing this today after having a bleak patch. I got through it and have got back to thinking again of sensible things to improve what was becoming a bit of a mess. Chaos ensues if you don’t tell yourself off and live your best life by adjusting what you don’t like. For me I’ve always been on the move and I’m having a hard time with not being on the road. I’m also hearing terrible news from back home, I’m afraid to say it’s best not to look at anything negative while you feel a little freaked out. Plan your lovely new days and for gods sake, eat well, take your supplements and above all get plenty of sleep. The exercise will come naturally if you go on lovely adventures. Stay safe but don’t let that rule your every movement or you will do nothing and that’s not the idea is it? x
over and out from your very own old bird x
Soho art offices and my sculpture in London, then my old film work amd fashion modelling. Check it out.