Hugo taking the plunge!

Double the Fun at Cenote Dos Ojos

Hugo Mendoza has felt a special connection to the cenotes of the Riviera Maya since he was born. His grandparents, members of one of the founding families of Tulum, own a sprawling rancho in the heart of the Mayan jungle, and it is home to cenotes big and small.

Cenote Dos Ojos is one such swimming hole, and one of the grandest in the Riviera Maya. Enormous in scale, it has a general two-eyed shape, which lends the cenote its name. Hugo, 21, spent his weekends playing in and around Dos Ojos, starting impromptu soccer games by the cenote’s gaped opening.

Having grown up right by the cenote, Hugo’s logical next step was to work there. After a stint as a professional soccer player, Hugo decided to go back to school. Now, he attends university in the evenings and is a Dos Ojos tour guide by day.

When asked what his favorite part of his job is, Hugo replied, “It’s always new to me. Every day when I dive into the water, it’s like I’m doing it for the first time.” That, and he loves to see the delight play across the faces of his guests. “They stand on the edge of the cenote, and the feeling they have is the same as mine—we’re in complete awe together.”

Hugo can be found at Cenote Dos Ojos Monday-Saturday. Set up a tour with him through ZAMAS reception. Happy adventuring!

Hugo taking the plunge!

Light beams through the water on a cave dive at Gran Cenote

Things are grand at Gran Cenote…

Cenote… a word that’s hard to pronounce and amazing to explore. Phonetically it’s CEH – NOH – TEH and they're one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s natural wonders, considered sacred by the Maya. Cenotes are created by vast underground rivers systems that upwell into caves and lush sink holes. They are home to fish, turtles, lilies, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Light beams through the water on a cave dive at Gran Cenote

One of the most popular in our area, the Grand Cenote, is best known for it’s lighting. Divers go deep into the caves following the fluorescent blue-green light of the sun streaming through and across the limestone. The less adventurous can swim around the cenote, peaking into crevasses and tickling fish. On one end of the cenote is a soft sand bank, renowned for it’s exfoliating and smoothing properties. You'll invariably find a group of ladies (and men) scrubbing their arms with it. The other end boasts a deep cave you can swim, snorkel or dive in. Our suggestion? Grab a mask and swim the whole way around, stopping to caress a purple lily pad or dive down for a stalactite fragment.

Things to know:

Sunscreen is frowned upon here because it kills the flora and fauna. Apply yours an hour in advance for optimal absorption and bring a shirt!

You can dive, snorkel, or just swim about. Equipment rentals are available at the entrance but we recommend renting from a dive shop (there is one on the ZAMAS property) for the best rate.

This is one of the most expensive cenotes to visit (about $9 USD per person), and you’ll soon see why. When you plunge into the invigorating water, you’ll be immediately submerged in a world that is not quite our own. It’s why the Maya performed their rituals here—they didn’t understand how they were born, but they knew the cenotes were definitely supernatural. A must-see in Tulum for travelers of all levels and interests.

Underwater view of the surface of Gran Cenote

Star-studded Snout

Stardom

The world’s largest fish are as magnificent as a star-studded night in Tulum.  They are called “marokintana” (full of stars) in another fabulous part of the planet.  Innovation used to follow the stars is also used in tracking these gorgeous creatures. http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/tech_life_animals.html

The distinctive markings of a whale shark identify sharks like a fingerprint.

Star-studded Snout

Whale Shark Feeding

The ZAMAS Family and friends went swimming with the whale sharks two summers ago and fell in love with these gentle giants.  Gliding through the sea with dignity, they are indifferent to the gawking tourists who surround them.  Granted, we kept a respectable distance due to regulations and to trepidations!

Big Fish in the Sea

Whale sharks live in tropical and warm oceans. Every June through September, these sharks are swimming in our seas.  While they are generally solitary creatures, they aggregate seasonally in some places and we are lucky that they come our way.

http://www.wcs.org/saving-wildlife/ocean-giants/whale-shark.aspx

Beautiful day at the Tulum Ruins with Patricia Bosworth

Artist in Residence: Patricia Bosworth

Patricia Bosworth arrived at ZAMAS on a breezy afternoon in December of 2009 and she immediately got to work. She laid out fifteen stacks of paper across her bed, flitting back in forth in front of them. She was thinking.

Ms. Bosworth is a biographer (in addition to being an actress, journalist, producer, and director) and her current subject is none other than Jane Fonda. Some may remember Ms. Fonda as Barbarella, or Hanoi Jane, or the Workout queen. One thing we can all agree on is her ability to transform seamlessly from one persona to another. Every time she becomes someone or something new, she embodies that persona with complete abandon.

What better way to truly dive into such a complex character as Jane Fonda than to have a great massage? When Ms. Bosworth arrived at ZAMAS, her goal was to work a little and play a lot. She did this by booking a massage tailored to her high-stress mood with Maria Luisa in her hotel room. Before toiling the night away, Ms. Bosworth indulged in our fresh fish filet and her signature drink, the vodka tonic.

On her last day, Ms. Bosworth thoroughly enjoyed the Tulum Ruins, as you can see by the photo below. She was especially taken with the feeling of history that permeated the air and the gorgeous ocean vista.

Beautiful day at the Tulum Ruins with Patricia Bosworth

Ms. Bosworth’s book is out in August. It will also be serialized in Vanity Fair in the September issue. For a recent starred review of the upcoming biography, check out http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-547-15257-8

In addition to her book on Jane Fonda, she is the author of the acclaimed biographies of Diane Arbus, Montgomery Clift, and Marlon Brando. She currently resides in New York City. Learn more about Patricia Bosworth on her eponymously named website.