Homún (Yucatán): Land of cenotes…and aluxes!

Homún, Yucatán. Let me try to explain what this place is all about. Let’s say that Homún is to cenotes what Chamonix is to alpinism – a freakin’ mecca. Rightly so, as there’s a plethora of cenotes in what is considered the epicenter of Yucatan’s Anillo de Cenotes (cenote ring), with over a hundred of them in a small area, over twenty of which can be visited. 

Cool thing is, compared to Valladolid, Homún has a slow pace, low-key feel to it. Tellingly, the most common transportation for cenote-hopping is a tricycle taxi (yes, like in the Philippines) and not a tour bus.  The drivers will show you a cenote menu, complete with pictures, and drive you to three of them for a set price. 

This is what they look like. Photo credit: nomad-as

Not bad at all, but we had our own wheels, so we tried to take advantage of them, and aim for the right cenotes.  Lucky us or, shall I say, good job we did, as we spent quite some time reading cenote reviews on Google maps and trying to apply our algorithm, which went something like…(you can read about it here)

And so that morning we drove on quiet back roads to the cenotes Mani Chan and Cleotilde, separated by just a few hundred metres and, as it turned out, in the same property.

The owner and caretaker greeted us next to Mani Chan. He told us the story of the place: how he’d found the cenote, gotten the licenses. How the place had been looted and vandalized during COVID lockdown. 

And what’s that? We asked

The houses? For Aluxes, he explained. Some folk don’t believe in them, but…you wanna hear a story?

We sure did.

A few weeks ago there was a family staying here, in the premises. They spent the afternoon lounging by the pool, eating and drinking. The Mister was getting drunker and drunker by the hour.  And then he started making fun of the Aluxes and their makeshift houses. 

Where are ya, little guys? Are you really protecting the place? he yelled, mockingly.

As he’d report later, still pale with terror, he felt a hand push him into the water. Of course he was so drunk that it was not easy for him to swim out of the pool. Speechless, he grabbed a towel and headed back for the bungalow. 

After the tale, we headed down Mani Chan. For some reason, we had been apprehensive about closed cenotes, but hey, it was magical to had a dimly lit, limestone pool all to ourselves. It was almost eerie to look down through our snorkeling masks and feel the depth of the place. 

Swimming in Mani Chan

Now my nephew will guide you to Cleotilde, said the caretaker, as we were drying up in the garden.

Can we walk there? We asked

Better not. There are wasps on the road. Take the car and do not open the windows. 

Cleotilde was phenomenal, too. Such a deep cave. So quiet inside. It felt wrong to speak, cause every sound was worth attending to. A true privilege to enjoy silence in a place so replete with beauty.

Cenote Cleotilde. Let there be light.

Meanwhile, the caretaker’s nephew watched us from the outside. It would have made sense for him to be tapping away on social media, only there surely was no signal there. 

Refreshed, we said our goodbyes and navigated on the dirt road toward a slightly wider, albeit paved, local road. Content with our cenote experience – off carte, as it were. 

In moments like these, it was not hard to understand why cenotes would be sacred to the Mayans. And why Aluxes would play whetever tricks they could to guard this holy territory.

Photo credit: tucuentofavorito.com

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