Cenote Xtojil near Libre Unión
A series of caves and cenotes run through Mani and the surrounding area of Yucatan. Any source of water is a sacred space to the Maya, and a home of Chac, the rain deity, whose blessings are crucial in a dry land where no surface rivers flow. The cenote, a Spanish word derived from Mayan "Dzo'not", is a sinkhole formed by collapsing layers of limestone.
Rituals are frequently performed at cenotes, sometimes for rain, sometimes for the general well-being of the earth, and always strive to maintain cosmic balance.
In the 1560's, zealous Franciscan priests would follow the whiff of burning copal incense to discover rituals practiced in secret. The punishment that followed only led the Maya to continue their rituals further underground. Their strong beliefs and comittment to ancient "costumbres" have persevered.