Updated: Sep 7, 2022
A goddess, or rather a goddess who lost her power, lives in the cenote?
We stood on the stone steps just outside the dark cavern. It was right in the center of a tiny Maya pueblo called Mani, the place where Fray Diego de Landa burned almost all the Mayan books, forever plunging the secrets of the Maya into darkness. It was a tiny town with a powerful, world changing history. Perhaps in the distant future it would be world changing again?
There is a story of a goddess and the time when all the water on earth is gone. Except the water in a tiny cenote in a tiny town on the Yucatan Peninsulia, of course.
We had very carefully climbed down the slippery rocks into the dark. Beyond was a sliver of light radiating down from above. But it wasn’t enough to light my steps. Max pulled out the torch on his cell phone to light the way. I was a bit nervous about falling.
Through the dark we ventured until we could see again.
Below us was a small aqua-colored pool, not very clean I might add. I am sure it caught the runoff from the rain in the middle of town. Probably it was polluted with oil from cars and filth from the streets. I can’t imagine drinking its water. Although, I do know it is connected to the vast underground river that flows all across the Yucatan. A river with over 6,000 explored cenotes, 6,000 portals to the Maya underworld.
We didn’t stay long. Really there wasn’t much to see.
But as we ascended, we stopped to chat with three locals sitting on the steps. One explained that the pool was sacred, an entrance to Xibalba, the Maya underworld. It felt a bit creepy to me!
I have been in so many cenotes I can’t remember them all, but this one was different. Despites its humble appearance, it was the site of a disturbing legend.
The goddess, you see (or rather goddess who lost her power) lived there with her pet snake. It was (or is) a very, very, VERY large snake—a snake with wings. It was a HUNGRY snake with wings.
One day, when the world has run out of water and the only place with any water left is this little humble, not-so-clean pool, you may want to go visit this powerless goddess and her huge, hungry snake.
For she, you see, will be the only one who can help you in your desperate thirst for water. Of course, you must bring her a baby as an offering if you expect to secure her help. (That is how the Maya legends are. There is always a price to pay for whatever it is you are looking for.) You must bring her your baby and she will feed it to her snake. While the snake is eating your baby, the goddess (who perhaps has more power than she lets on) will give you a gourd filled with water from the cenote. You must drink this water completely. And when you do, you will never be thirsty again.
Dirty water, a spooky, dark hole in the ground, slippery steps, the end of the world’s water supply, and a very large very hungry snake?
I hope THIS legend isn’t true!
Buying LOTS of bottled water,