Going, Going, Gone!
What I was about to do was more than just doing trying something new. I was on vacation in Mexico with my boyfriend Zach and we decided we did not want to sit by the pool or the beach the whole trip — we wanted to explore the country as much as we could.
According to Zach, that meant doing things outside our (my) comfort zone, like climbing up 125 steps to the top of an ancient Mayan temple, zip lining across beautiful sparkling water…and rappelling. He promised me that the distance from the top of the cenote to the water was relatively short.
I was about to rappel into a cenote in Coba, a beautiful ancient Mayan city on a peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. I was about to slowly descend into a deep, dark, reverberating cave with the only thing keeping me from plunging face first into the darkness was a rope I held onto until my knuckles turned white. Zach may have been right about it being a short distance, but all I know is it’s true what they say — don’t look down.
I made that mistake and almost chickened out. The other people in our tour group — a mix of Americans and Canadians — were extremely more adventurous than I was. The three other couples took turns rappelling down into the cenote, none looking as nervous as I was feeling.
When it came time for Zach and I’s turn, I looked down into the depths of the cenote as the tour guide reassured me that I would be okay. The entrance to the cenote resembled a pit of darkness. The tour guide attached the rope to my harness and instructed me to step down onto the ladder. I did as I was told and was then informed to lean back over the cenote so that I was almost parallel to the ground. Zach had no problem as he began to rappel down while the tour guide spoke to me in French.
Hanging over a hole is not the best time to be translating as I figured out he was repeatedly trying to tell me to relax. I took my left foot off the ladder and began to, very slowly, lower myself into the cenote by allowing slack onto the rope.
As the water in the cenote got closer and closer, I began to rappel faster and started to enjoy myself. I lowered myself into the awaiting inflatable tube that was at the bottom and began to look around for Zach.
Once I found him, we started acting like children as we began splashing and dunking each other under the surprisingly warm water. As we floated in the water, we learned about the history of the cenote we were in. But all too soon, it was time to get out.
The problem was, there was only two ways out. Either by hooking your harness to a rope that would pull you back out, or by climbing a slippery wooden ladder. I did not want to get out of the water, and even mentioned that to a woman in our group, so I waited until half the group had exited before I began to leave. Zach went first, and climbed the ladder so quickly it was like watching a monkey climb a vine.
Afterwards, I decided I wanted to try to climb the ladder since I had been working out and felt like I had the strength to do so. I pushed my way to the front of the line for the ladder and waited for the tour guide to attach the rope to my harness, which was the only safety measure in place to ensure we would not fall.
I looked up to the top of the looming ladder, took a deep breath, and started to climb. I quickly learned that I would only be able to rely on my upper body strength because the rungs of the ladder were extremely slippery. As I slowly reached halfway, my arms were about to give out so I had to stop. I informed the tour guide who yelled to the men at the top to give slack on my rope. Then, he told me to let go of the rope.
Instead of keeping my hands on the rope to ease myself back down, I let go of the rope completely and immediately began to fall but luckily I landed in the middle of my tube.
Fortunately, I was not hurt and actually enjoyed plunging back into the water. However, the others in the group were worried I injured myself so I began to laugh at what a stupid thing I had done to reassure them that I was okay. The tour guide seemed extremely worried that I was hurt so I assured him that I was fine.
Unfortunately, my fall meant that I had to go out the other way, by being pulled up by the rope. It went quickly but was not painless; the harness dug into my thighs as I was pulled up.
After I finally reached the top and was unhooked, Zach asked who the idiot that fell was and I told him it was me. The look on his face showed how much he regretted that question. I then turned to the tour guide and asked when the last time someone had fallen like I did. He avoided the question, not wanting to answer.
That’s when I realized — there really is a first for everything.