Hoyo Hicaco, the cenote of the Taino People
They are beautiful, full of mystery and magic at the same time. Cenotes are the most precious jewels in Punta Cana. They’re preserved by the tropical rainforest ecosystem; swimming into them is an adventure that no one should miss.
Cenotes are natural deep blue pools that get fill thanks to the filtration of rain and the rivers flow that are born in the heart of the mountains. Therefore, swimming in a cenote means dipping yourself in a temperature that does not exceed 24 Celsius degree.
Its conformation dates back to the last Ice Age when the sea descended and left the coral reef exposed which, over time, became fertile soil for vegetation to grow. The rains mixed with the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and eroded the limestone rock; thus, were formed the caves that became tunnels and underground river systems.
In the Dominican Republic, the tidal force penetrates the continental area through the limestone rock with the seawater. It dissolves the rock more quickly, causing landslides that make chambers flooded.
The Tainos had a powerful connection with the cenotes since they used them as a water source and considered them as the gateway to the spiritual world. Also, figures of jade and copper have been found as symbols of offerings.
But the cenotes can also be inside a cave. These are the youngest and the most enigmatic ones since their water mirror is still inside a cavern. The Tainos chose them as settings for some of their ceremonies and rituals. The color of the water can vary from emerald green to the most vivid blue, which can only be seen when sunlight enters through the holes in the roof of the cave. These cenotes are ideal for adventure activities, as some of them are located several kilometers underground.
Then we have the semi-open cenotes; the geologists say that they’re middle-aged because they aren’t fully mature to be completely exposed. They can be connected with others, and some are so crystalline that you can admire their underwater flora and fauna.
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TEXT: Francis Torres; IMAGES: Suresh y Gastón Milano