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Thousands of years ago the Maya civilization experienced a severe drought. Frantic, they asked Chaac the god of rain for help. Chaac mounted his winged beast embracing the task of going to every cenote to acquire water, however they were all dry!

Worn out from his search he sat on what looked like a large tree trunk to rest, but it began to move. It revealed itself as the massive maned snake known as Tsukán, (from the Mayan “tsuk” for horse and “kaan” for serpent) which immediately rose gobbling up Chaac’s winged beast in one bite. Furious Chac whipped the viper and he rode her, declaring that since she had consumed his animal she was now his property.

Tsukán became enraged and demanded to know the man’s identity, to which Chaac replied that he was the god of rain and now he planned to gather water from the ocean while mounted on her back (Chaac believed that the snake had drunk all the water in the cenotes). This threat incited the snake’s wrath, she writhed violently and out of nowhere a couple of wings grew on the two sides of her body and she began flying against her will.

When they arrived at the ocean Chaac filled many containers with water, while Tsukán marvelled at the beauty of the sea for the first time. The snake told the god she didn’t want to go back home. Chaac promised her that after she helped him carry out his responsibility of supplying water to the Maya empire, he would return her to live.

Though when they arrived back at the cenotes Tsukán pulled Chaac off her back roughly and in irritation he whipped her. This caused lightning and as it struck she was transformed into thousands of water drops that spread out all over the earth. This in turn filled the cenotes and as the drops gathered at the bottom of the cave, the winged serpent was resurrected. As a result of her challenge against the god of rain, a curse fell upon her to be the eternal protector of the water cycle of the Yucatan Peninsula’s caves, cenotes, and rivers.

That is how the Mayan legend of Tsukán came to be. Like all legends it is passed down from generation to generation, changing through the years; however the most important thing is that deep respect is taught to the people. That is why, before entering any cenote they seek permission from the Aluxes and devote themselves to the preservation of the site. In hopes of not meeting Tsukán.

Instructor & Cave Guide

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