We were 22 meters underground. We turn off the headlights of our helmets, we remain silent and immobile for three minutes. My first time experiencing absolute total silence. Without the sound of ambulances, trains, planes and New York’s loud voices.
Nor was a ray of light reflected in the cave. It was absolutely dark. I couldn’t see the outline of my hands. But I was never afraid, I think nobody felt fear. We only enjoyed that peace and harmony that we went to look for at the place where the Mayan Gods delighted for many centuries: The secret river (Río Secreto).
The expedition began with a 20-minute walk through the jungle. We wore special clothes and water shoes. Before that, we had to leave our belongings in a locker and take a bath to eliminate all the chemicals that we may have in our body, so we were not going to contaminate the water.
In a curve we found a shaman, who asked us to make a circle to start the ritual. It was the first interaction with the Mayan culture. With herbs and incenses he repeated his prayer to ask the Gods to bless our almost two-hour journey through the natural reserve of the Mexican Riviera
Nothing would happen to us because we were protected. They had approved our visit.
Holding hands, because of the rocky path, we descended and entered this almost 12-kilometer cave system. We dive into the water. “Shit, it’s freezing,” Canadian tourists shouted. In my case, I held my breath until my body acclimatized to the water.
We turned on our flashlights…
We look around us. It gave us chills, and three of the eight tourists were gasping. This was an ecosystem like none of us has ever seen before.
It was a river, with no current, hidden below the surface. A turquoise color reflected in our lights. On the sides, we were amazed with the white and yellow rocky walls, rich in stalagmites, stalactites and calcium columns.
All intertwined with each other, as if someone had sculpted them so. We were not allowed to touch them or hold onto them. The big rocks in the water caused us to stumble so our walk was very slow.
In certain areas we had to swim in the depth of the river. “Be careful, if you drink from this water, You will surely have a kidney stone later”, the guide, Yonathan explained when talking about the richness in calcium carbonate that are present in this ecosystem.
However, we were allowed to swim and enjoy the water. Once again, we turned off all the lights and enjoyed the darkness again. It was only two minutes. A little moment to relax completely and enough to be delighted.
As we continued descending, the guide indicated that for the Mayans, the caves were a place where their gods lived because the water had not been touched by man. Also, when they discovered the area in 2006, they discovered archaeological remains.
Almost an hour had passed, and our journey was still going. In each sector the hue of the walls changed and even the stalagmites were replaced by helictites that looked like corals or popcorn..
We also observed some mangrove roots and were scared to see a scorpion resting on a rock, but we tried not to scream so as not to awaken the bats.
Charged with the energy of the Secret River (Rio Secreto), we saw a light. We were near the exit. “See that hole up there. A fox fell while being chased. This is how they discovered this reserve”, Yonathan told us.
As we continued walking, the path was getting brighter. We reached the surface and found an archaeological vessel, which probably belonged to the Mayan Culture. It was the end of our expedition.
We felt privileged because Río Secreto opened its doors in 2009. It is an almost unknown place for many tourists, despite being one of the destinations recommended by National Geographic magazine.
To end this amazing and vibrant expedition, we made a toast with anise. Then we all have a Mexican lunch buffet that was included in the ticket. We had chicken, lime soup and some tostadas.
Río Secreto taught us that Mother Nature is so rich in ecosystems and there is still so much to explore.
- Río Secreto is located 5 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo State, Mexico.
- The caves in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, are underwater. Aquifers like Río Secreto are filled by rain that seeps through the limestone.
- Río Secreto is a model of sustainable tourism. They preserve the underground area and the jungle that is above it.
- In the jungle they have felines such as the jaguar, puma, ocelot, tigrillo and jaguarundi. There are deer, anteaters, and raccoons.
- Unique creatures capable of surviving in perpetual darkness also live within the ecosystem. These are the blind shrimp, the white lady (a blind translucent fish), and scorpions.
- The ticket costs 79USD.