After checking out of the Villas Arqueologicas hotel, Sydney and I went to the parking lot to grab the rental car while Kerri stayed with our bags. The parking lot was gravel and would have been a lot of work dragging our wheeled suitcases through the rock, as we did when we checked in. We were learning. As Sydney and I reached the car I thought Sydney might enjoy riding in the front seat. Being only five years old, the front seat is something she has never experienced. Since we had a Mexican rental car with no air bags, a ride through the parking lot would be perfectly safe. She climbed into the front seat and I buckled her seat belt.
“Daddy, when we get home can we get a car like this?” Sydney asked enjoying her first ride in the front seat.
“Uh, at home… uh… well… all newer cars have air bags. Plus, riding in the backseat is always the safest place to be and we want you to be safe.” I stated remembering the days when I was her age and we did not even have booster seats. We just got in and if you were lucky your mom or dad would put a seatbelt on you, if your car even had seatbelts. Times have changed.
We loaded our bags into the trunk and headed off down the road. Our next hotel stay would be in Cancun, but we had found a couple of places in the guidebook that were on the way that we wanted to check out. Next stop, Dzitnup Cave (I still have no idea how to pronounce it.)
The guidebook said that Dzitnup Cave in an underground cenote with excellent swimming. It also stated that it had “perilous stone stairs” leading down into the cave. Perilous stairs in Mexico? This sounded kind of sketchy, but we like adventure. When we arrived at the parking area near the cave a group of small children on bicycles told us, through gestures, that they would watch our car for a fee. I wasn’t sure what would happen to our car if we didn’t pay them, but better safe than sorry. I gave them a 10 peso coin and we headed towards the ticket booth to pay the entrance fee. We opted to not swim in the cenote as we had a really long drive ahead of us and there did not seem to be any showers. Just a quick peek and then we would be on our way. As we approached the cave entrance we saw the “perilous stone stairs” leading down. After ducking our heads to make it through the low part of the entrance we got our first look at the turquoise water in the cave. It looked amazing. Stalactites hung from the ceiling and a small opening in the center of the cave ceiling allowed the mid-day sun to shine through to the water below giving it a bright turquoise color. The stairs were not very perilous and we easily made our way to the bottom of the cave. There were a lot of Mexican families swimming and having a good time. We wondered if it would still be possible to dig out our bathing suits and join them. It looked like an amazing place to swim, but there were no showers and we had a long drive ahead of us. We would just have to come back the next time we visited this area.
As we made our way to the edge of the water I noticed movement on the ceiling of the cave. Getting a better look I noticed that the cave ceiling was covered in bats. I pointed this out to Sydney and she got really excited.
“This is the first time I have seen real bats.” Sydney said while jumping up and down. Yes, she was definitely excited to see bats. All I could think of was “I sure hope they don’t have rabies.”
After exploring the cave we emerged back into daylight and made our way back towards our car. All along the way were vendors selling souvenirs. We stopped at one that had Barbie dolls wearing handmade Mexican outfits and high quality photos of Dzitnup Cave. We had a hard time taking good photos in the cave. It was too dark to take a photo without a tripod, which I did not have, and using a flash ruined the amazing color of the water. So, I asked the little old Mexican lady in my best tourist Spanish how much the photos were. At only 20 pesos, I couldn’t resist. Sydney really liked the Barbie doll with the Mexican dress, so for an additional 10 pesos, we got Sydney a new handmade dress for her Barbie back at home. These were some of the best prices we had come across.
Once back at the car we noticed that there was no damage. Either the little kid did a great job of watching our car, or there was no crime in that area and the kid had a good business going. Our next stop was a little known group of Mayan ruins in the middle of nowhere called Ek’ Balam. It had a pyramid even taller than the one at Chichen Itza and you could climb it. Kerri was determined to conquer a pyramid while in Mexico and so this was where we were going for her to do it… or so she said.