Thursday, August 18, 2011
On the way, we stopped off at a cenote for an hour to 'take the waters.' Technically, I knew what a cenote was, but when I finally saw one . . . well . . . wow.
The Ik Kil Cenote is over 80 feet deep. Roots from the forest above dangled down into the crystal clear water below. Birds and bats flew all around as multiple streams of water formed a myriad of small waterfalls.
While the Yucatán is a jungle, technically, it doesn't really rain a whole heck of a lot. Its hot and dry. There are no rivers or lakes to speak of. This is due to the extreme karst topography of the region. The limestone creates this porous land, but what seals the deal is that 65 million years ago, a big ass rock fell out of the sky and shattered the hell out of the subsurface strata. Oh, and that rock probably killed all of the dinosaurs off too, but that is another story.
So when it does rain, the water goes down, down, down into the ground, ground, ground. There vast networks of underground rivers in the region. Sometimes, the rivers find soft enough limestone to erode holes to the surface - and those holes to the surface are the cenote.
Without palatable surface water, the Mayan people built their villages and cities around cenote. Some of the sink holes had water closer to the surface, but some were much harder to get to. The Mayans would use ropes or build stairs for access.
Think about that for a second. A whole group of people having to cluster around holes in the ground for water, and having to descend into those holes to get the water. On a daily basis. And who knows where the holes led to? And who knows what dangers lurked down there.
I'll tell you. Kobolds. Orcs. Dragons. Gelatanous Cubes and Green Slimes.
I think you'd be hard pressed for a better place to run a cavern based mega-dungeon than in the cenote-filled Yucatán peninsula - or a fantasy facsimile thereof.
So go Google cenote, get your graph paper out, and start planning some mischief. :)