Sink or Swim

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This is the lucky #13 article in a summer series on what travel has to teach us about life.

Just outside Chichen Itza in Mexico, there is a sinkhole that a farmer discovered one day while plowing his field. It is now a stop on the tour of these ancient Mayan ruins, a welcome respite from the humidity, and from being crammed in a bus full of fellow tourists.

At the time of my visit, the sinkhole had port-a-pots outside it, and locals eyeing us tourists with a combination of disdain and curiosity. Despite busloads of us coming through, they seemed like they hadn’t yet connected enough with any of us to make a final decision on how to feel about our presence.

We walked towards the underground cavern, down some haphazardly carved steps, to find the deep black waters of the underground swimming pool.

Most people chose to opt-out of a swim at this point. After all, who knew what was lurking beneath those dark waters? And without a known bottom to the hole, the Creature From the Black Lagoon suddenly seemed like less of a scify fantasy and more of a distinct possibility. The Unknown was not something most wanted to experience.

A few brave souls jumped in right away – three guys and one lady. I tried to cajole the person I was with to take the plunge with me. He continually refused.

I looked at the swimmers doggie-paddling in a circle to stay afloat, laughing and chatting, Just a few minutes ago they’d been total strangers, avoiding eye contact with each other.  Now their joint adventure was bonding them quickly, as if courage was thrilled at finally finding friends.

One of them saw my consternation at jumping in without my mate, leaving him behind, and said, “Come on in, it’s nice in here” with a smile reminiscent of childhood jaunts at the pool.

I looked at my mate one last time, then took the plunge solo, joining my new friends in a cool pool of nature’s infinite possibilities.

-Kirstie Ganobsik

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