The Magic of the Ancient Waters - My Family Travels
My Younger Brother Fernando (right) and I (on the left with my head in the water as usual) Swimming in the Mayan Cenote
My Aunt Modeling the Cenote's Life Jacket
My Family and I Smiling through the Rocks of the Cenote

The world is a beautiful place; full of surprises, secrets and newfound treasures. Within the intricacies of the world, it’s a remarkable thing to find a place where you feel most content. I discovered my own special place the summer of my sophomore year in Cancun, it was a place so surreal, that time seemed to stop altogether.


The Mayan civilization has what are known as cenotes, natural underground wells that hold freshwater. Though they were believed to hold certain religious affiliations, cenotes are now major tourist attractions along the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. I stumbled upon one that summer, never having heard of them before. This was a secret cenote, as the natives called it, because not many tourists knew about its existence.

At first glance, the water was impeccably clear, so clear that you could see the rocks that lay at the very bottom and the multicolored fish that glided through the water. I touched the water with my toe, the unexpected cold made me shiver. After a moment of hesitation, I jumped in, the chill of the water quickly wrapped around my body.

I began to swim around, bobbing back and forth in my beige life jacket, feeling the mossy rocks against my skin, the small fish against my feet, and hearing the voices of other swimmers reverberated off the walls of the cavern. Feeling constricted, I decided to unlatch myself from the life jacket. In an instant, my body felt lighter and I allowed myself to descend below the water, past the rocks and the moss. Because the cenote was tremendously deep, I couldn’t reach the floor, but as I looked down below, I felt like I was looking down on a whole other world.

Fish swarmed around me, and when I stayed very still, a strong sensation of serenity overcame me. I was surrounded by silence, the laughter and chatter of the people came to a halt. The only sound came from the small bubbles emanating from my mouth. Soon, a larger fish came out from behind a rock, it was a vibrant blue and speckled with golden spots that glistened in the sunlight. It stood in front of me, its little mouth slightly ajar, staring blankly at me. Once I blinked, it darted past me and disappeared in the rocks.

There was never a place where I fully allowed myself to clear my head of all thoughts until now. The phrase “live in the moment” had taken a whole new meaning to me now. If anything, this could have been the existential bliss that some claimed to have while meditating.

The water was no longer cold, it was awakening, refreshing even. My body glided along with the fish through the crevices of the cenote, nearly forgetting that I had to breathe. Rising to the surface, I sat on a rock to catch my breath. Small fish began nibbling at my toes, the numbers amounted gradually; first two, then five, then ten, and suddenly many little fish were swarmed around me. I wondered if the Mayans ever realized the beauty that lay within their waters. Knowing that the cenote was an ancient place once used by my ancestors, it made me feel like I was connected with my past. The best areas for me are the ones that are not as well-known because they allow for more intimacy between you and the place. I wish I could go back to Cancun every summer to revitalize the feeling of peacefulness I found there. Some might think that it isn’t enough to simply visit once a year, and though I would like to go more often, I feel that it’s better this way. The exclusiveness of a yearly visit to such a surreal place holds more value than constantly returning. Even though it has been over a year, the sensation of the water and the beauty of the cenote still lingers within me to this day.

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