We drove south of Ticul to Oxkutzcab, then turned southeast on a very narrow and often pot holed road toward Lol Tún and on to Mayan ruins. A guide is required to enter the caves which are over 2 km in length. There was a large group of school children awaiting the next tour time with organized games in the park and they entered followed by our small group of French, Germans, Spaniards, Mexicans, a Canadian and we two Americanos. The caves were lighted with various colored spot lights nested under huge overhangs. The ground was extremely uneven and slippery from the constantly dripping limestone which had created all the stalactites. On reaching the first level spot, James decided this was not good for his knees and turned to climb back up the steps only to have the lights extinguished, and this followed us throughout the tour (perhaps on a timer and we simply moved too slowly). This (like much of Mexico) would be a nightmare for OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the US. I recall being at Xcaret (a local theme park near Playa del Carmen) for their Day of the Dead celebration where we exited a huge auditorium by a ramp which reached to 30 feet above the stage below but had not a single railing on the edge. But back to the caves: the ground was crevassed like an ocean beach, but hard, slippery, and not well lit at all, but it was dramatic. While watching one’s step so as not to slip, suddenly a friend’s voice would warn you that your head was about to meet a stalactite. These caves were used for safety by the Mayan people who were hunted for slavery by their conquerors from the 1500’s. Halfway through we were introduced to two pillars that joined floor and roof and which, when struck with one’s palm, echoed “Lol” with one and “Tún” with the other. Near the end was an overlook on a canyon filled with huge rocks with sharp edges. These were said to have collapsed into the cave when a meteor struck the Yucatan Peninsula. Much of the cave is still unexplored. An unpleasant aspect of our tour was our guide who stopped us three times while underground to remind us that he was not well paid and it would be good, for all of us together, to come up with 600 pesos for him. Daylight was surely appreciated on the long walk back to the parking lot where the car started right up.
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