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  • Above ground on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico it is hot – 100 degrees. Sweat makes a silent path between my shoulder blades as I look forty feet below me into a deep cavern filled with bats and water.

    Heart pounding, I grip the climbing rope cautiously while I rappel through a small hole in the ground, cold cave air slapping me as I edge past the entrance. Bats dive and dip as I slowly inch my way down through the dark abyss, my hands grasping ropes tightly until I unceremoniously drop into the cold cenote water with a gasp, climbing gear and all.

    Below me, the water is more than forty feet deep and is cold. Taking deep breaths, I paddle in place to get acclimated to the water and when I shine a flashlight into the black water of the immense underground cave below me, it is crystal clear. When I look up I see a thin crust of rocky limestone earth on the ceiling which covers the top of the cavern. Deep in the jungles of Mexico in middle of the Yucatan, there is only an achingly thin layer of rock which resides between the top soil and the fresh water below.

    My team has disturbed the bats and they flap around the top of the cave vying for a new perch. Stringy tree roots hang forty feet deep before they delicately touch the water. Small, blind, cave fish swim around our ankles nibbling our skin. My spelunker friends and I float in the water and watch the bats find their place in the world.

    Silent, we contemplate the weight of the earth with reverence.
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