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cenotes

The Yucatan Peninsula has almost no rivers – instead its water is found underground in a multitude of cenotes.

Cenotes are one of the Yucatan Peninsula's major tourist attractions. The entrance to this one is surrounded by vendors selling souvenirs, towels and snacks - the kind of scene that fills me with despair...

... and so I decide to take the sign's advice to heart and take care of myself.

Taking care of myself, I find this deserted cenote, off the tourist circuit, which provides a perfect camp site. I swim at dusk with an owl hunting for bats overhead and then eat sitting at the top of the rock wall surrounded by fire-flies flashing on and off, illuminating the forest.

Close by I encounter an apparently thriving eco-tourism project: ...

... tourists visit three cenotes along a narrow gauge railway in horse-drawn carts. After some negotiation I am permitted to ride alongside the track to visit the cenotes myself.

I camp next to the third water hole, a closed cenote with only a small opening to the outside world.

Another opening, hacked into the rock, and a shaky ladder provides access ...

...to the shadowy interior.

The second cenote has a slightly bigger opening...

...while the first is an enormous cavern...

...which seems like it could be the entrance to another world.

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