I emailed Hidden Worlds and to Rain Forest Adventures a week ago about my shocking experience, with no response from either, so I feel that the problem has not been addressed and needs to be made known. The email, which follows, explains the whole situation.
I feel compelled to make a complaint about my visit to Hidden Worlds a couple days ago. I have been to HW at least 3 other times on previous visits to Mexico and went again so that my friend could experience it. This time, I had a very bad experience with [name withheld by me], my tour guide, and I feel I was put at risk and in serious danger.
The tour was at the tail end of 3 days of rainstorms. (It was pouring again when we arrived.) Someone suggested going to the caves since they are underground. I didn't realize that the rains would affect the water level in the caves, but it makes sense now, of course. The only people there that afternoon were me and my friend, so we had a "private" tour with [name withheld by me]. Once in Hilario's Well (the only thing open that day), he mentioned that the water levels were rising rapidly. We already knew that access to many areas would be blocked since we were told that back at the office. Once in the cave, I questioned [name withheld by me] about how fast the water could rise. He said the cave could fill up within minutes, even from a storm that was miles away. This made me very nervous and uncomfortable, and I was ready to quit, but he didn't seem to hear my concerns. I know he's an expert, but it's almost as if his religious worship of the caves and waters clouds his judgment. (He said a prayer to the cenote beforehand, asking its permission for us to enter.) I expressed my nervousness more than once, but I also didn't want to affect my friend's enjoyment or appear unreasonable (I'm not generally a fearful person), so I went ahead, although I continued asking about how fast the water level could rise. He even pointed out how strong the currents were and pointed out the sound of the waters rushing in. NEVERTHELESS, he proceeded to take us to another area via two adjacent spots where we could breathe only by putting our faces up against the roof of the cave. AND there was no other way out! I now feel we were put in grave danger and wish I had listened to my instincts at the beginning.
There were other serious problems, although not life-threatening. Once during the tour and once at the end, he emphasized how he depends on tips. That's not terribly bad, but then he made us very uncomfortable by hovering near us continuously afterwards, obviously seeking out his tip, even near our car as we got in and drove away. Perhaps his desire for tips also affects his judgment. I couldn't believe he even asking since he should have picked up on the negative vibes.
Since the tour ending up being a private one, I would have liked to do away with listening to the tour script, but he seemed intent on slavishly sticking to it so that it was hard to say anything (including about my fears). I wanted to say that we just wanted to see the caves and swim and snorkel and skip the commentary. It seemed that his dedication to the cenotes was greater than to us as tourists.
After reviewing the visit in my mind for a couple days, I still don't think I'm overreacting to say that we were endangered and could have met with a tragic end by drowning because of the excessive risk taken.
Please let me know that you have received this message and what you think. I have refrained from posting this on TripAdvisor since it was a very unusual situation, and I didn't think a public criticism of an individual was the way to handle it. Nevertheless, [name withheld by me]'s apparent lack of judgment should be a source of concern.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
An acquaintance of mine has since told me:
"Guides are everything in cenotes. I used to be one, and I've seen it all. Your guide had / has no business taking anyone in ever again. I've seen a lot of guides get complacent about the 'business' of taking people into these delicate and dangerous environments."
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