The word “cenote” pronounces all of the syllables: sē-ˈnō-tē. Cenotes are sinkholes formed by collapsed limestone rock that expose a subterranean water source; as such, cenote comes from the Mayan word “dzonot” for well. The Yucatan Peninsula is home to the longest underground river system in the world, with an estimated 7,000-8,000 cenotes. The Mayas revered cenotes as sacred and believed that some were the passageways to the underworld, or “Xibalba.” Cenotes are mostly filled with fresh water, but as they connect to the mangrove forests and to the reef, they sometimes have brackish water or haloclines of varying fresh and saltwater currents.
The uniqueness of Quintana Roo’s underground ecosystem also exposes it’s vulnerability. All water from cenotes, and anything else in it gets absorbed like a giant sponge, eventually reaching the fragile Mesoamerican reef. One look at the reef in front of Playa Del Carman and you can see the effects of a decade’s worth of dumping and irresponsible waste management leading to contaminated groundwater. The Great Mayan Civilization built their empire upwards towards the gods as seen in the majestic temples built at Coba, Tulum, and Chichen Itza. Today, the remaining Mexican-Mayan ancestors look downwards beneath the ground, acknowledging the mighty power of the water below them, laying claim to their existence as they know it.
This entry was posted on Monday, November 7th, 2011 at 3:35 am
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