Yes, dear readers, there’s more to the story. I didn’t tell you the rest of the story.
After Chichen Itza – and it seems weird to say “after”, because that was the whole point, right? – we went to another place. Herman, our guide, and Nelson, reminded the group that we had swimming on the agenda next. Swimming? I looked at Jonathon. He shrugged. He forgot to tell me. Plus, we were already swimming in sweat in our clothes.
Herman turned around in his front passenger seat. His eyes glowed with excitement.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, I will show you one of the great secret places of Mexico. The peninsula has no rivers above ground.These are underground springs on the Yucatan peninsula. The Mayans found several of them, called them cenotes. They are freshwater running underground. They started to dig wells and found these instead.”
We drove on. The roads became more pothole than pavement.
“This village is a gatekeeper for the cenote. They are Mayan descendants. They take care of the cenote and keep it pure and clean. It’s a treasure.”
The rest of the hour, Nelson and Herman chatted with animation. They enjoyed this part of the tour even more than Chichen Itza, it seemed. On the way, Nelson stopped the van and talked with an older gent selling mango off a cart. The weathered man chopped it up and bagged it. Nelson handed him a few pesos. Hey, a driver’s gotta eat, too. He shared the mango with Herman.
We pulled into a quiet, empty lot. A rooster pecked at a tarp by a building behind us. Herman rose from his seat again.
“This is where you will swim. It’s an underground cave. Blind black catfish swim in the water. Of course, it has stalagmites and stalactites, like most caves do.”
He paused a moment, rubbing his palms together with anticipation.
“All we ask is you shower before you get in to keep the cenotes clean. Enjoy, my friends! This is a great Mayan site.”
We peeled ourselves out of the van. Everyone changed into swimsuits but Herman and Jonathon and I. A Mayan couple sat in front of the changing area, silent behind a stand of bottles filled with green tequila. They spoke their native language, swatting away the never-ending herd of mosquitoes.
The silence of the place was a welcome change from Chichen Itza. Jonathon and I stepped down the path into the cave. My ears filled with tranquillity.
The air below ground was warm and still. The water, far below, glowed dark blue with ombre tones near the edges. Sounds echoed off the cave walls. A couple of industrial lights brought illumination. A random bird circled the cave, temporarily lost. Some daylight showed through from the original hole the Mayans dug. A few people splashed around and swam in the water. Two black inner tubes floated on the surface.
We climbed down the carved steps, taking care as everything was damp and slippery.
“Look!” I said.
Black fish swam around near the entrance to the water. We sat down and watched as our compatriots stepped circumspectly into the drink.
Herman joined us.
“You gonna put your feet in the water?” he asked, his countenance lit up with joy. He looked 20 years younger.
We shook our heads no. It was enough to sit and take it all in. Despite the anticipation of swimming, the experience still had a hushed quality. Everyone felt the uniqueness of the place and the occasion. Something like this doesn’t happen every day.
I thought about rivers of living water. Jesus talked about them.
Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” – John 7:38
If you have living water flowing from your heart, it’s not only for you. It’s for others. As a Christian, you have something to give this world. You can offer abundant life to others by living like Jesus, serving and loving, where you are, whatever you’re doing. Your life can be just like the cenotes. The Mayans could have kept them a secret from the world. But they shared them, and now everyone who wants to can visit them and enjoy their refreshing qualities. May we do the same with the underground springs inside of us.