The Mayan Underworld of Cenotes by Martin Broen
Martin Broen’s images of cenotes capture the beauty of the hidden “underworld” that sustains life of the full ecosystem below and above ground. The cenote of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico forms the biggest underwater cave system in the world, and like the ocean, we barely know it and are already destroying it.
Through his unique and intimate photography, Martin shares a magical environment which he describes as “wonderous formations, textures and colors, that took hundreds of thousands of years to form, and appear so strange that sometimes it feels like being in space exploring alien worlds.”
For the Mayan culture to thrive in this area, and even to survive today, it needs to maintain its traditional spiritual link to the cenotes, as well as access to the fresh water this system provides. Cenotes are the only substantial source of fresh water in the region, thus fundamental for their life; they also occupy a central role in Mayan worship and rituals related to rain, life, death and rebirth.
What about the ocean speaks to you as a photographer?
Getting constantly amazed by the beauty of the marine diversity and the excitement of having life-changing encounters with them.
What do you hope people will take away from your photography?
As photographers we use the phrase “people protect what they love and only love what they know,” so our duty is to build awareness around the amazing beauty of this planet. Seeing these cave photos, people initially believe they are retouched, as it is hard to believe that this amazing world exists under our feet and they immediately fall in love with it when they realize it is real.
What do you wish to accomplish through working with Fundación Ara macao in raising awareness of the cenotes and their importance?
This is an environment that is mostly unknown to the public, a fragile environment which is in danger, and a life-sustaining resource that is intimately related to the Mayan culture. We must help protect both, including through the work of this thoughtful organization.