Fearless. It’s a word that’s been used to describe me. But I don’t know that I’d choose it for myself. Like everyone else, I experience moments where trepidation or anxiety or fear rears its ugly head and attempts to steal away my peace or resolve to move forward. It’s one of those things that we’ll all have to deal with at many points in our lives. How we deal with it, whether we conquer it or allow it to rule us, is one of the things that shapes and defines our life experience.
Now it’s true. I love a little (or lot of) adventure in my life. But one thing that really doesn’t sit well in my belly is the feeling of falling. I know a few people who enjoy tossing themselves off of cliffs and out of planes. And yes, I’ve had the skydiving experience a few times. But the falling feeling in the pit of my stomach is not one that I relish.
Enter the Ik Kil cenote. What is a cenote, you ask? Well, it’s a large sinkhole created when limestone collapses into the underground river system. Ik Kil, considered one of the most beautiful of the 7000+ cenotes in the Yucatan, was used by the Mayans for sacred rituals. These days, it’s part of an archeological site and includes a restaurant, changing area, showers and cabins for rent. The freshwater swimming hole is truly beautiful with walls covered in natural greenery, aquamarine water below and a round opening to the sky, punctuated by vines and tiny waterfalls from above. Quite a while ago I came across a video of people jumping from a stone platform into the freshwater swimming hole. As I did more research I came across tons of gorgeous pictures of this sacred place and I knew I had to visit AND I had to jump. A little extra time off of work provided the perfect opportunity to hop down to Cancun, explore Chichen Itza (a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World), and visit this amazing, underground, freshwater pool. Thankfully I had two friends who were more than down for the country-hop.
We arrived quite early in the morning, before the sun was even up, and had just enough time to get to our resort, check in, drop our bags and change clothes before our day-long excursion began. We made our way out of Cancun and stopped at a traditional outdoor market before heading to Chichen Itza for a lesson in history and exploration. I was fascinated by the stories of the pyramids and the ruins on that land. After a bit of free time, we finally made our way to the cenote, the adventure I’d been anticipating.
After changing into bathing attire and taking the required shower in freezing water, we made our way down the winding stone staircase that led to the swimming hole. Ray was the first to climb the steps to the platform where people were jumping, diving, falling, and tossing themselves into the inviting water. After his jump, Thembe and I made our way to the platform. And here’s where the whole “Tryphena isn’t afraid of anything” theory is proven wrong! When I tell you that I stood atop that stone platform for about 10 minutes, willing my legs to make the leap, I am not exaggerating. My mind was definitely saying yes. This was, after all, the very reason for the trip. But my body was screaming no and would not allow me to make the move. Ray had made his way to the middle of the swimming hole with my GoPro to film the jump from below, but my hesitation did not allow his legs to keep him afloat any longer. After much cajoling from the lifeguard and Thembe, I knew I had to stop thinking and just let my body go. And…I did…finally.
I. Hate. Falling. It was not a long fall but it felt like forever! 🙂
Finally hitting that water was so exhilarating and satisfying, I knew I had to do it again. The second time around we all went up together to make the jump simultaneously. Now one jump did not completely eradicate my fear, but I knew the exhilaration that was waiting for me on the other side of that fear. I also knew that a bunch of people I didn’t know were watching AND I didn’t want to be left up there alone while my friends were in the water below. So, with a count of three, I forced myself to stop thinking and just move… and what an amazing feeling it was!
So, no. Fearless is not the word I’d choose for myself. I just know that when fear attacks, it’s an indication that the thing I’m fearing is something I need to face, confront, tackle and deal with head on. And that usually means I have to just go for it…whatever “it” is in that moment.
Check out the video below. You’ll definitely see my scared faces and my exhilarated faces and my satisfied faces. Those are the faces of a conquerer!
*You’ll also see some cool black catfish. No worries. They don’t bite!*