The Magic of Bacalar

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It was edging towards midnight. Bernardo and I had already missed one bus earlier in the day. We were now on a second (much later scheduled) bus from Merida heading towards Bacalar. The day had been one long miserable mess, leaving both of us exhausted and in desperate need of a bed. I was messaging back and forth with our mutual friend George, who was meeting us at Bacalar. A few days prior, I couldn't even tell you where that was on a map. But Bernardo, being from Merida, knew all about it. He had been before and filled me in on one of Mexico's best-kept secrets. Tucked away, the main appeal of Bacalar is the Laguna de Siete Colores. The English translation is the Lake of Seven Colours. This lake is the show-stealer of Bacalar; and for good reason. Laguna de Siete Colores placidity allows for incredibly clear water. This quality showcases its various depths to reveal beautiful multiple hues of turquoise and blue, hence the name. Located along the south eastern coast of Mexico, just shy of the Belize border, this destination is indeed a natural paradise. It only took a few photos from Bernardo before I knew we had to go, and an hour later, we had bought our bus tickets. By the time we did make it to our destination, Bernardo and I quickly said hello to George and made a B-line to bed. This impromptu trip was great in theory, but so far, it was not living up to our expectations. Luckily, we had three days here and hadn’t even seen Laguna de Siete Colores as yet. 

 

The next morning was a vast improvement to the night prior. I woke up in a hut, under a mosquito net, entirely at ease. The sun was beaming through the cracks of the wooden shutters enticing me to get up and explore my surroundings. Mind you, it was dark when we arrived the night before at the hostel. I didn't get to see much of anything. So walking out of our room to find myself steps from the lake was sweet serendipity. 

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Bernardo, George and I spent three days in Bacalar. In those three days, we had a good routine going. Wake up, have breakfast, spend the day on the lake, go into town for dinner, then back to by lake for the rest of the evening. Repeat x3. We had good reason for spending the majority of our time out on Laguna de Siete Colores. For starters, our hostel had its own walk-out deck on the lake. This, we took full advantage of. We practically lived on that deck, we even debated sleeping out on it our final night. Second, Bacalar is known for Laguna de Siete Colores. Aside from that, there's not much else for a tourist to do, but this wasn't a problem for us; we had come for the water and were going to enjoy it. So our days were spent on the deck, talking, playing games and just relaxing with a killer view. We broke up the time walking out into the water. I say walking because it was especially shallow on the outer rims of the lake. You can walk quite a ways towards the centre until you’re forced to tread water. So we walked and explored, and walked and explored. The more we saw, the more we understood what made the lake so mesmerizing.

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There’s no doubt, Laguna de Siete Colores is a treasure. But it is one that must be cherished. We knew to be conscious of this delicate environment during our visit. The freshwater lake spans 42 km and is home to a unique and fragile ecosystem, abundant in marine life. Bacalar is also home to a number of cenotes, a commonality throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and Quintana Roo.  Some are even located both within Laguna de Siete Colores itself and also on its adjacent shores. Vacation hot-spots like Cancun and the Caribbean coast redirect enough of the spotlight off Bacalar for now. But as the lake becomes more well known, development and construction will rapidly increase. Tourism can be seen as a positive for this small town, but only if the lake is properly protected. If not, it will suffer the consequences severely. And the magic which makes Bacalar so extraordinary will be lost and likely never recovered. 

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The journey here was not the easiest, but it was completely worth it. Bernardo was right, the lake is a hidden gem, one you have to see to believe. I was enchanted; the lake’s natural allure had me wrapped up, completely spellbound. My only hope is that the Laguna de Siete Colores lasts and that I'm able to return and once again experience its mystic waters. 

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