The Secret Cenote Yokdzonot
Nearly anyone who visits Yucatan soon learns of a rather unique feature of the landscape called a cenote (say-NO-tay) in Spanish or dzonot in Mayan. The Yucatan Peninsula is a flat, thick shelf of limestone with thousands of miles of underground, water-filled caves interconnected by rivers. When the roof of one of these caves collapses, it produces a sinkhole or natural well, filled with fresh water. The most famous cenote is the sacred cenote at Chichen Itza, but hundreds of cenotes large and small dot the Yucatan. Some cenotes are hidden deep in the jungle and others are inside larger caves. Some have been reliable sources of drinking water for centuries, which is why many Maya villages and ancient cities are located nearby.
During a visit to Hacienda Chichen, we learned of a small Maya pueblo called Yokdzonot, only a few minutes drive from Chichen Itza, where a group of citizens had formed an association that has spent two years converting their abandoned cenote into a project of sustainable tourism. The video below is our report of their efforts and our adventure.