The last time I went to Mexico, Kristen and I stayed in an amazing bungalow-style guest house that we found on Airbnb — it’s owned and run by Christine, a lovely Colombian woman who grew up in Germany, fell in love with a Frenchman, and decided to move to Mexico’s coast to open her gorgeous little guest house. It was the perfect experience for both Kristen and I: we were in desperate need of an escape, and being between jobs, I was pretty much broke. So we found $400 flights to and from Cancún, and shared a room in Christine’s guest house for $30 a night. It was 2 kilometers from the beach, so we rode bikes, played with Christine and Raúl’s cute dogs, and chatted with her in our broken Spanish about what she recommended we do on our trip.
Cenotes are apparently one of the things the locals get really into. You see some of the bigger, more touristy ones on pamphlets in the airport and as part of vacation packages at the hotels, but I knew that neither Em nor I would really want to go to one of those. And the one Christine sent Kristen and me to, years ago, was absolutely perfect. After some futile googling (there’s really not much info out there on the non-touristy cenotes), we decided to go to Siete Bocas — “seven mouths,” for the seven separate openings of the cenote.
On the collectivo to Puerto Morelos, I told Emily about the cenote. If nothing had changed in the past two years, it would still be owned by a tiny old Mexican lady named Maria. She kept it impeccably clean, and just to get there, we’d be driving on a dirt road for 10 minutes or so. She was lively and friendly, told us about the bottomless cenote with the thirty-foot jump, and was usually sweeping the pathways that were made, at their very core, of compacted dust. That’s something you’ll see a lot in remote places around the world — little old ladies sweeping away dust with a broom, when they’re surrounded by dust to begin with. That dust will never go away, but the pride these women take in keeping their home or their pathway clean really speaks to me.
Anyway, we got there, and sure enough, nothing had changed. José, our taxi driver, agreed to return after a couple of hours, so Em and I put our stuff down and climbed down the first set of stairs, descending, literally, into the blue. Not the turquoise of the Tulúm that you see in so many Corona commercials, but a royal blue that you don’t see very often in nature. When the light shines in the water, you just see rays of light extending as deep as the cenote goes. Little black fish skimmed the under the water’s surface.
Perhaps my favorite part about this cenote is how undiscovered it is. When Kristen and I went, there were a few families, locals who were clearly regulars to this cenote. This year, Emily and I got there around noon — and it was quiet. The sun shone through the gaps in the trees, and there was one Canadian couple, and a pair of very handsome Spaniards. They went scuba diving, and I had forgotten about them entirely, until I had been sitting on a makeshift dock at the bottom of the stairs. Huge bubbles started slowly making their way to the surface, but the divers were so deep that we couldn’t see them down below.
I was excited to revisit Siete Bocas for two reasons — one, because I’m pretty sure it was my favorite part of my last trip to Mexico, and I knew the amazement at something so beautiful and natural would still remain. My heart skipped a beat when I slipped into the still, blue water of the first boca we tried. I even looked at Emily and mentioned how I was still a little scared, even though I had done this once before. Two, because I was so excited for Em to have the exact same experience I did… and man, was she just as ecstatic as I was the first time I found myself in that beautiful blue water.
And, sure enough, we both jumped from the cenote with the thirty-foot jump, we emerged on the stairway and saw Maria, sweeping her pathway with a little broom.