I figured gravity was on my side as I lowered myself into a cave. Just don’t expect me to be able to climb out of one.

“Just jump away from the platform and lower yourself slowly into the cave,” the guide said. Like that’s the easiest thing in the world. Caves kind of creep me out in the first place, so I was all on board with the slow part. But that meant I was entirely relying on my upper body strength, against my personal policy.

Harnessed and hardhatted, our group was at the start of a tour of the Cenote Maya Park in Cancun, led by Alltournative Tours. I held my breath, jumped and was thrilled to find myself not plunging into the dark cave below. I slowly let out the rope that took me gently down.

 After that the rest of the afternoon was the type of adventure I could handle. We floated through the cool waters in the cenote, a sinkhole formed when limestone collapses to expose groundwater. We ducked under spectacular stalactite formations, lit up with the lamp of our guide Riaz. At one point, we stopped to gather around on a rock to witness a shaman perform an authentic Maya ceremony.

 We went from below ground to far above the trees when we climbed towers to zipline through the forest, much easier for me than rappelling into a cave. Our day concluded with a delicious traditional Mexican lunch of soup, chicken, beans and empanadas.


Jan Schroder is an award-winning writer based in Atlanta. She works as the managing editor and web editor of Travelgirl magazine and writes a weekly travel column for The Atlanta 100. Jan is appearing on the radio on “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Living” on WSB as a travel correspondent and also contributes to Belinda’s website. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

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