Do you know how the cenotes were formed?

Do you know how the cenotes were formed?

The word cenotes or Xenotes comes from the Maya dzonot which means cavern of water. For the Mayans, these places were sacred because they were their only sources of fresh water in the middle of the jungle. In the Yucatan peninsula, it is presumed that there are more than 15,000 open and closed cenotes.

One of the most striking is that the appearance of the cenotes is similar to that of a lake or well, but its waters behave, in reality, like those of a river, by the continuous flow of them through the tunnels. This keeps alive the flora and fauna present in its waters, and also helps to maintain the populations of some species completely endemic. However, its formation was not an event that happened at random from one day to the next, but it has a complex and interesting history trapped between its walls.

Many years ago, the entire area that lies towards the southeast of Mexico was only a coral reef covered by the waters of the sea; then, the sea levels dropped, which caused that this barrier was exposed, to later die and become, finally, in a dense tropical forest.

It is in this environment when rain begins to fall, after the last ice age occurred, and this rain was mixed with the large amounts of carbon dioxide that was in the atmosphere during that time.

This mixture gave rise to carbonic acid, which was further acidified by contact with the soil where it fell. This had high levels of decomposing organic matter that produced more carbonic acid, so the aggressiveness of the water was really remarkable. Then, the mixture of salt water with fresh water further increases the aggressiveness of the water on the limestone (mainly), which dissolves it gradually and creating holes in it.

Over the years, these holes expanded their dimensions, generating, simultaneously, tunnels and passages, which created underground water systems very similar to the rivers found on the surface of the earth. Then, with fluctuations in sea levels, some caves became totally empty, which caused the existing roofs to collapse completely, giving rise to open cenotes.

When raising and lowering the sea levels, various materials accumulated after collapses and dissolutions by carbonic acid, were giving rise, in the cenotes, to various natural constructions, such as stalactites, columns and stalagmites.

Lol – Tún “Stone Flower”

Loltún “means” flower of stone “, Mayan word that owes its origin to have found drawings of flowers on the walls of this huge passage, although other theories claim that its name is due to the sounds that emit the stone columns: “Lol” y “Tun”.

It was a place of human settlements of the year 9,000 a.C. until 1050 AD; examples of this are ceramic objects, stone tools, sea shells, cave paintings and petroglyphs. Here is clay, which was extracted by its inhabitants to make various tools and was also used as the source of drinking water of the place, as there are no cenotes or bodies of fresh water nearby.

The tour of the grotto is approximately one kilometer and begins with a bas-relief known as “Guerrero de Loltún” which represents a character with richly dressed Olmec features and wielding a spear. There is also a calendrical date that corresponds to the year 500 a.C.

Once inside, along the route, you can see cave paintings of a human head with Olmec features, a plume and other ornaments: hands, animal faces, frets and inscriptions.

You can also see the haltunoob or vessels intentionally carved in the rock to collect the naturally draining water, as well as various petroglyphs, among which the flowers stand out, from which the site takes its name. This place keeps thousands of years of the natural and cultural history of the Yucatan Peninsula, the ancient Mayans used to provide water and clay with which they made their utensils, but above all it was a religious center and refuges.

The Cheese along the history

It is said that the creation of the cheese was made accidentally by a shepherd, who had to ferment the milk, it was coagulated and out of necessity or out of curiosity, with the help of a little salt and natural weather agents began to experiment, until you get to create the first cheese.

It is considered the appearance of cheese as food in our diet, as the oldest there is. It is even believed, that livestock appeared before any type of crop.

The elaboration of the cheese surely was discovered by diverse communities at the same time. The sheep were domesticated 12,000 years ago and in ancient Egypt cows were taken care of and milked for milk so it is logical to think that they would also make cheeses. The milk was kept in containers made of leather, porous ceramics or wood, but since it was difficult to keep them clean, the milk fermented quickly. The next step was to extract the whey from the curd to make some kind of fresh cheese, without curdling, with strong and acidic flavor. Legend has it that an Arab shepherd returned to his dwelling with the milk of the sheep inside a bag made with the casings of one of his lambs and that after walking in full sun, when opening the bag the milk was curdled, solid, made cheese. According to Greek mythology, it was the Gods of Olympus who taught humans how to make cheese, and these made observations as to see that the milk after a certain time was congealing, the influence of temperatures in this process milk curdled faster and if when the milk curdled solidified and the liquid was poured, the curd became more consistent and in this state could be conserved more time.