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Ka’a Xi’itech, Yucatán

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Once again, another 91 days have come and gone. This time, we’re saying adiós to the Yucatán Peninsula. Our three months here were amazing; an almost perfect mix of history, culture, sight-seeing and adventure. We’re leaving with tanned bodies, relaxed minds, and memories that we won’t soon forget.

Despite the fact that it borders the USA, we had never bothered to visit Mexico and, worse, we knew next to nothing about it. But overlooking our neighbor to the south is a mistake which Jürgen and I won’t be making again. Our three months in the Yucatán consisted of highlight after highlight, surprise after surprise. From the henequen plantations around Mérida to the walled city of Campeche, to the pristine waters off the coast of Quintana Roo, to the ancient Maya cities, we saw as much of the peninsula as humanly possible.

Yes, we had a hectic schedule, but don’t feel too sorry for us. After all, our itinerary was filled with items like “pearl farm on uninhabited beach” and “lagoon tour to see flamingos” and “excursion to forgotten Maya ruins” and “swimming with sea turtles”. There were times we got tired, of course, but whenever I felt myself about to whine, I remembered that my only complaint was having too much of a good thing.

Tulum. Uxmal. Poc-chuc. Sotuta de Peon. Celestún. Maní. Panuchos. Cenotes. Cozumel. I don’t think we’ve ever had so many experiences that I would immediately like to have again. That I would happily repeat the very next day. But that’s not to say that I was ready to sign up for another 91 days in the Yucatán, right away. After three months, there were aspects of life here that I was eager to escape, chief among them the heat and the mosquitoes. The noise and chaos of Mérida, initially fun and invigorating, wore thin. The unreliability of public transportation was infuriating. The lethargy and grime. The littering and the police stops.

But without a few little gripes, a place wouldn’t feel like home, and we knew that we were seriously going to miss the Yucatán. More so than in other places, I felt as though we really improved upon ourselves during our time here. We learned to scuba dive. We became versed in the history and present-day situation of the Maya, one of the most fascinating cultures we’ve ever encountered. We improved our Spanish, discovered a new cuisine, communed with nature, and met some wonderful people. While in the Yucatán, we grew in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

As always, leaving was hard. If nothing else, our time in the Yucatán opened our minds to the wonders of México, and I know for a fact that we’ll be back soon. We’re already starting to look forward to it.

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February 16, 2014 at 5:55 pm Comments (2)

Our Favorite Yucatecan Food

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Featuring a lot of Maya-influenced dishes that aren’t found across the rest of Mexico, Yucatecan cooking was nothing like we had been expecting. From street markets to sit-down restaurants, from snacks to desserts, from breakfast to dinner, we never tired of eating, and these were some of our favorite plates:

Panuchos
Panuchos and Salbutes

Panuchos and salbutes were by far our favorite Yucatecan antojitos (appetizers or “little cravings”). Salbutes are deep-fried tortillas topped with tomato, pickled onion, avocado and jalapeño, and pulled chicken marinated in annatto. Seriously, read that description again: how can that not be amazing? Perhaps a better question is, how could it be made even better? Try cutting open the tortilla prior to frying, and filling it with refried beans. Say hello to the panucho. And now say goodbye, because it’s already halfway down my gullet.

Poc Chuc
Poc-Chuc

One of the best-known Yucatecan dishes is poc-chuc, a simple but wonderful plate of marinated pork slices. After soaking for a couple hours in a mixture of sour orange and annatto paste, the meat lands on the grill and is then served with tortillas, rice and vegetables. Done right, the pork is juicy and tangy, and when you wrap it up in a tortilla with a bit of spicy habanero sauce and a few drops of fresh lime juice, absolutely delicious.

Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita Pibil

When we asked locals about their favorite food, the most commonly-given answer was Cochinita Pibil. This slow-roasted pork dish is a weekend favorite in households throughout the peninsula. The name is a marriage of Spanish and Mayan words, meaning literally “buried piglet”. Traditionally, a suckling pig is marinated in bitter orange, wrapped in banana leaves and buried in a fire pit for a couple hours. I loved this dish, and would order this almost every time I saw it on the menu.

Chaya
Chaya

Before moving to the Yucatán, I’d never come across or even heard of the plant called Chaya. A cousin of spinach, chaya is a staple of the Yucatecan diet, forming the base for some of the peninsula’s favorite drinks, soups and meals. Packed with proteins, vitamins and antioxidants, chaya is a wonder-food, and we frequently ordered glasses of Chaya-Pineapple or Chaya-Lemon drinks. Also delicious is the rich crema de chaya soup found on the menu of most Yucatecan restaurants. If you want to eat chaya at home, though, just make sure to cook it well. When consumed raw, it can be poisonous.

Huevos Motuleños
Huevos Motuleños

Jürgen and I aren’t normally big breakfast eaters, but we made a few exceptions while in the Yucatán. Apart from a couple delicious affairs with chilaquiles, we stayed faithful to Huevos Motuleños. Allow your imagination to picture this dish being prepared: refried beans spread across the plate, then topped with a fried tortilla. Then two eggs cooked over easy are laid on top. And then another fried tortilla, over which tomato sauce is poured, and then the whole mountain is topped with cheese, ham and peas. Is your stomach growling? Is your ticket to the Yucatán booked?! Huevos Motuleños are reason enough to visit.

Sopa De Lima
Sopa de Lima

Sometimes, just the name of a meal is enough to get me salivating. Filet mingon… baby-back ribs… coconut shrimp… mmmmm. And then there’s Lime Soup. But although it sounds more like a punishment than a meal, sopa de lima was the dish we most often ordered, because Jürgen was an addict. Every time we ate out, there’d be a steaming bowl of sopa de lima on our table. A blend of chicken broth, lime juice, veggies and chicken, it’s amazing when done right, but quality varies wildly… for a consistently good bowl try La Vida Catrina or Chaya Maya.

Yucatan Recipes

February 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm Comments (0)

Hunting for Hammocks in Tixkokob

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On paper, it sounded like a foolproof plan. Pop over to nearby Tixkokob, find someone who makes hammocks, snap a few pictures, head home. In and out, 60 minutes max. But it turns out that despite Tixkokob’s status as Mérida’s “Hammock Central,” it’s not all that easy to find someone making them.

Hammocks are an essential part of life in the Yucatán. The majority of locals sleep in them, and not just for a short afternoon siestas, but every single night. In fact, we met a couple people who claim to have never slept in a bed at all. Yucatecans swear by the health benefits of hammocks, which are supposed to be especially good for the spine.

We had already bought ourselves a nice, cotton hammock and now we wanted to see one being produced, so we went to Tixkokob and found its hammock factory. But after a frustrating discussion with its unaccountably paranoid manager, we were refused entrance. Strike One.

That was alright, a factory might have been fun but it wouldn’t have offered the kind of romantic images we were really looking for. So we went back into town and found a small hammock shop. The guy working there explained that his hammocks are handcrafted by neighborhood women, but he refused to give us one of their addresses. That’s totally legit, but still: Strike Two.

Undaunted, we returned to Tixkokob’s main square with another plan: hire some local kid. Soon enough, we met Fernando and had taken seats in the back of his trico. “My whole family makes hammocks, so you picked the right guy!” And now began a ridiculous tour of Tixkokob. His hammock-making cousin wasn’t home (Strike Three). His hammock-wizard aunt wasn’t home (Strike Four). His friend the hammock-master had just finished one and wasn’t about to start another (Strike Five). Another aunt had a hammock half-done there in her courtyard, but was eating and wouldn’t let us in (Strike Six).

Eventually, we ended up at the house of his great aunt. She was busy grinding corn into pozole and when Fernando explained what we were looking for, she went into her house, dragged out a giant loom with a half-completed hammock, grabbed her shuttle and started weaving. Perfect! I turned to give Fernando a thumbs-up, but he was already snoozing away. In a hammock, of course.

It had been a difficult day, but also a lot of fun. At the very least, we got to know every square inch of Tixkokob. If you want to undertake a similar quest, skip the factory and the stores, and seek out Fernando. He (or another guy with six thousand hammock-making aunts) will probably be hanging out in the main square.

Location of Tixkokob on our Map

Buy Your Mexican Hammock Here

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February 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm Comments (3)

Our Favorite Restaurants in Mérida

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During our 91 days in the Yucatán, we spent a lot of time on the road. So whenever we were in Mérida, we tried to cook healthy meals and eat at home. Too many Mexican restaurants turn Mike and Jürgen into pudgy boys. Despite our best efforts, though, we couldn’t resist visiting a good percentage of Mérida’s eating establishments. Here are some of our favorites; not necessarily the city’s “top-rated” restaurants, but for one reason or another, the ones we most enjoyed.

Restaurant Tips Merida
Chaya Maya

If you’re looking for a classy place to try some classic Yucatecan cuisine, look no further than the Chaya Maya. This restaurant is a Mérida institution, with waitresses dressed in huipiles and even a woman at the entrance hand-forming the tortillas that will soon be on your table. The prices are reasonable and the food is fantastic, especially the sopa de lima and poc-chuc. There are two branches of Chaya Maya near each other, but we preferred the one on C/ 55, near the Plaza de Santa Lucia. [Location]

El Tucho

A raucous restaurant found a block away from the Plaza Grande, our initial visit to El Tucho was quite a surprise. I don’t know what we had been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this crowded hall with a band wailing away on stage. It was initially overwhelming and we almost left immediately, but I’m glad we didn’t. The food was good and, with each beer, the music sounded better. Plus, our ebullient waiter just kept on bringing out free tapas. If you don’t mind noise, head here for a fun meal in an authentically Yucatecan setting. [Location]

Bio Restaurant Cura-Kit

Here’s a restaurant that I can almost guarantee won’t appear in your guidebook. We only decided to eat at the Bio-Restaurant Cura-Kit (on C/ 48 and 71, adjacent to El Arco Hotel) because it was so close to our house. As luck would have it, it turned out to be one of our very favorites. They have daily specials at great prices, just 50 pesos for a huge plate, with a drink included. We especially liked eating here on Mondays, when the special was brochetas (chicken shish-kabobs). [Location]

La Vida Catarina

Found on C/ 60 between the Plaza Grande and Santa Lucia, La Vida Catarina was the restaurant in Mérida which we visited more than any other. It was our default; if we couldn’t be bothered to think of anything else, we knew we’d be happy here, safe inside its charming courtyard, with its daily drink specials, unobtrusive waitstaff and quiet music. Yes, quiet music! In Mexico! We came here over and over, and never could figure out why it wasn’t more crowded. [Location]

Salamanca Grill

Friends had recommended an Argentine grill called La Rueda, but when we showed up on a Monday afternoon, it was closed. A woman passing by on the street saw our looks of despair and recommended we try the nearby Salamanca Grill. Ma’am, on the off chance that you’re reading this… we thank you from the bottom of our stomachs. Our meal here was one of the best we had in Mérida. A small, dark restaurant with huge, mouthwatering steaks at prices that almost made me feel guilty. Perhaps La Rueda would have been just as good, but I can’t imagine it being better. [Location]

Restaurante Mary’s

We had walked by Restaurante Mary’s at least a dozen times, and always this cheap and simple cantina on C/ 63 was packed full with locals. That’s a good sign, and though we kept promising ourselves to check it out, we never did. Finally, on our last week in Mérida, we remembered Mary’s, and it was just as good as we suspected it would be. We’d eaten a lot of cheap, quick meals around the nearby Mercado de San Benito which weren’t bad, but none could compare in value or quality to this one. [Location]

Yucatan Cook Book

Restaurant Tips Merida
Restaurant Tips Merida
Restaurant Tips Merida
Restaurant Tips Merida
Restaurant Tips Merida
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February 15, 2014 at 10:29 pm Comments (3)

Sotuta de Peon

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During the Yucatán’s henequen boom, there were close to a thousand haciendas (plantations) in operation across the state. Today, they’re nearly all in ruins. And in the area surrounding Mérida, only one still manufactures henequen: Sotuta de Peon. We joined a tour of the hacienda which led us through a mansion, the factory, a Maya house in the agave fields, a cenote, and ended at a restaurant serving up Yucatecan specialties.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

Our tour started in the hacienda’s main residence, which was filled with antique furniture and framed, faded photographs of the family who once lived here. Like all other henequen plantations, Sotuta de Peon closed up shop after the introduction of synthetic fibers in the mid-twentieth century. It was only recently purchased by a local businessman, renovated and restored to working operations.

Outside the mansion, we were introduced to the henequen-making process. The fiber comes from the leaves of an agave plant, similar to that which produces tequila. We saw both the old, labor-intensive method for producing the fiber and then moved to the more modern machinery. I use the term “modern” in a relative sense; these massive, roaring machines date from the early 1900s. We watched as stacks of henequen leaves were deposited into the machine, which broke them and “combed” the fiber out of the plant’s flesh.

Next, we boarded a cart hitched to a mule and set off into the fields where, at the top of a hill, Don Antonio was awaiting us in his palapa. He’s been living and working at Sotuta de Peon for most of his life and, since retiring from field work, has become a part of the hacienda’s tour. After explaining the process of cutting henequen, he showed us around his home, expressing his wonder and gratitude about his lot in life. Years ago as a simple henequen cutter, he couldn’t have imagined that he’d ever meet so many people from all around the world, and he seemed as interested in us as we were in him.

After saying “ka’a xi’itech” to our new friend, another short mule ride brought us to Sotuta de Peon’s cenote, where we had an hour to swim and enjoy a drink at the mobile “Wagon Bar”. The water was warm, and the underground cenote was more beautiful than we had expected. During our three months in the Yucatán, we saw many cenotes, and kept waiting for one to disappoint us. But it never happened.

Our tour ended with lunch in the hacienda’s restaurant. The food was excellent, and the prices reasonable. The tour itself, in fact, is a major bargain considering everything that it entails. If you have time to visit just a single hacienda during your time in the Yucatán, you’d be well-advised to make it the Sotuta de Peon.

Location on our Map
Sotuta de Peon – Website

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Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
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February 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm Comments (0)

The Railway Museum of Mérida

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Once upon a time, the Yucatán had a popular and far-reaching network of passenger locomotives. Today, most of the train stations scattered across the peninsula are little more than ruins. Mérida’s, however, has been converted into a museum dedicated to the machines that once chugged through the jungles.

Train Museum Merida

If you’re a train fan, you’re going to love this museum, which asks for just a small donation on entry. And even if you’re not big on trains, you should still have a good time. The old locomotives are beautiful and you can climb into many of them. A couple have been refurbished, but most are still in their original, half-decrepit condition.

Unfortunately, the museum doesn’t provide information about any of the trains. So if you’re not the kind of person who can confidently tell a 4-4-0 locomotive from a 4-6-2, you’re not going to know what you’re looking at. But the photo opportunities are great and you don’t need special knowledge to enjoy exploring old trains. This museum will especially appeal to kids and, should you have any questions, the knowledgeable manager is usually around.

Location on our Map

Our Visit To The Train Cemetery In Bolivia

Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
Train Museum Merida
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February 14, 2014 at 3:08 pm Comments (0)

Mérida’s Free Entertainment

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Of all the things Mérida has to offer — lovely plazas, great food, fascinating museums and friendly people — perhaps the best is its astounding cultural program. We’ve never lived in a city as dedicated to the arts, or as devoted to preserving its cultural heritage. Almost every night of the week, you can catch a free performance.

Free Concerts Merida

At the foot of Paseo Montejo, near the Plaza of Santa Ana, a stage is erected every Saturday night for the Noche Mexicana. You can sit here for hours tapping your feet along to the sounds, styles and dances of Mexico. There’s a constantly changing line-up, as singers and troupes from across the country are invited to participate.

On Thursday, head over to the Plaza de Santa Lucia for the weekly Serenata Yucateca. This is perhaps the best-known of Mérida’s free concerts, and has been inviting the peninsula’s most famous composers and musicians to the stage for the past forty years. The crowds arrive early, with the best spots being claimed an hour in advance.

On Monday evenings at 9pm, the Vaquería takes over the street in front of the Palacio Municipal. This colorful dance has its origins in the Yucatán’s colonial days. Once a year, villagers across the peninsula were permitted by the Spanish elite to celebrate a fiesta. The wives of the local cowboys (vaqueros) were in charge or organizing the festivities and would don their most elaborate dresses, before leading their husbands in the dance.

After watching all these concerts, you might feel like breaking out your own dancing shoes. In that case, head to the Plaza de Santiago on Tuesday night for the Remembranzas Musicales. Here, in one of Mérida’s most beautiful plazas, bands play the greatest hits of the Yucatán while hundreds of locals clasp hands and dance the night away.

These are just the main offerings on a city-sponsored cultural program so jam-packed that it almost beggars belief. It’s a good idea to head over to one of the city’s tourism offices to ask about the upcoming events (we prefer the office in the Palacio del Gobierno). Unless you’re a stick-in-the-mud, you’ll almost certainly find a show that interests you.

Property Management Merida

Free Concerts Merida
Free Concerts Merida
Free Concerts Merida
Free Concerts Merida
Free Concerts Merida
Free Concerts Merida
Free Concerts Merida
Free Concerts Merida
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February 13, 2014 at 8:36 pm Comments (0)

The Caste War Museum in Tihosuco

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The Spaniards may have conquered the Yucatán with relative ease, but destroying the spirit of the Maya proved a far more difficult task. From the very beginning of the conquest and up into the twentieth century, the Maya fought back against their oppressors, bending but never breaking. The stories of their struggle are told in the Museo de las Guerra Casta, in the village of Tihosuco.

Caste War Museum in Tihosuco

The Yucatán is a large peninsula with vast stretches of jungle, and it provides plenty of cover for those who know the territory, which explains in part why the Maya resistance proved so troublesome to the Spanish (and later, the Mexicans). For centuries, attacks flared up, cities were taken and re-taken, semi-independent territories were established, and vicious retaliations inflicted. The Conquest of the Yucatán is not a story of a docile, vanquished people, always the pitiful victims. The Maya were not to be trifled with.

During what’s come to be known as the Caste War, one of the most successful indigenous uprisings in the history of humanity, the Maya very nearly succeeded in taking back the entire peninsula. In 1847, Maya troops who had been stockpiling arms in Quintana Roo set out on the march. They took Valladolid. They took Izamal. They marched within 24 kilometers of Mérida, gaining momentum and support every step of the way. The white landowners and clergy were in panic, and those who could had already fled. There’s little doubt that, had they proceeded, the Maya would have conquered the capital and won the war. But then the rains came.

The rains! At the very heart of the struggle for independence was a respect for ancient traditions, which had been under attack for centuries. And these traditions called for men to return to the farm during the milpa, or corn harvest. Although victory was within grasp, the men abandoned the front. By the time they were ready to rejoin the fight, the Yucatecan troops had been bolstered with reinforcements from Mexico. The tide of the war had turned irrevocably.

The small museum in Tihosuco does a nice job of illuminating this story with paintings, artifacts and a top-notch guidebook in multiple languages. Tihosuco itself played an important part in the war as the scene of a major early battle. The church in the town square, the Iglesia del Niño Dios, is still in ruins, and serves as an evocative reminder of the conflict.

It’s not near any other touristic sights, but an excursion to Tihosuco is worth the considerable effort of getting there. If you’re feeling hungry after visiting the museum, ask around for Doña Nachita’s, near the church. The “restaurant” isn’t anything more than a table in her living room, but the food is great.

Location of Tihosuco on our Map

For This Trip We Rented A Car From Sixt

Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
Caste War Museum in Tihosuco
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February 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm Comments (4)

Temazcal: The Mexican Sweat Bath

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During our stay in Tulum’s Akulik Hotel, we were invited to try out the traditional sweat bath called a temazcal. “That sounds pleasant,” I thought, not at all anticipating the intense and exhausting cleansing of the body, soul and mind I had just agreed to.

Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum

For centuries, the temazcal has been practiced by the Mesoamerican cultures of Mexico, including the Maya. The word comes from the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. It’s a physical purging of the body, a spiritual way to reconnect with the Earth, and a medicinal tool used to fight sickness and disease. Outraged by the idea of mixed-gender and mixed-age groups of indigenous people crawling naked into a dark clay hut, the Spanish tried to put an end to the practice, but the temazcal proved resilient.

Before beginning, Laura (our temazcalera) prepared us for the experience by praying and blowing copal smoke over our bodies. She explained that we would be giving thanks to the four cardinal directions and to the four elements. We would be reflecting on our lives, and meditating on our families and the world. She placed tobacco in each of our hands and asked us to concentrate an aspect of ourselves that needed improvement, then throw the leaves onto the fire.

I’m allergic to anything with the slightest whiff of New Age-iness. A reference your “inner child” or praise for the wisdom of The Secret, will earn you a big roll of my eyes. But as Laura was entreating us to enter the womb of the Earth Mother, I decided to just go with it; to suppress my usual skepticism and make an honest effort to embrace the spiritual side of things.

As it turns out, connecting with your spiritual side is easy during a temazcal. You’re sitting cross-legged inside this pitch-black hut, the only light provided by the red-hot stones glowing in the central pit. You’re sweating profusely, and you’ve been sweating for over an hour. You’ve got this little Maya woman chanting and singing, whispering and suddenly howling. She asks you to envision your family and conjure somebody into the hut and, yes, I can do this. It’s easy. I can actually see my mom sitting across from me, right there, plain as day.

Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum

Probably, I was hallucinating. Our temazcal lasted for two hours. It got insanely hot, hotter than any sauna I’ve ever visited and at one point, I had to lay face down on the cool ground. There were four stages, called puertas or “doors”, each dedicated to a different element and a different direction. Before each puerta, new stones were brought in. These were the abuelitas, or grandmothers of the earth, and we were asked to welcome each with a song.

During the first puerta, we concentrated on the animals and plants of the world. For the second, we contemplated humanity. The third was dedicated to ourselves, and we reflected on our own lives, our own happiness. And during the fourth puerta, we were asked to think about our families and friends. There came a point during the third stage that I had a spiritual epiphany about my life. Even if it was triggered by heat fever and delirium, that was a powerful moment, and it has stayed with me.

It was early afternoon when we entered the temazcal, but by the time we crawled out, it was dark. It truly felt as though we had been newly born, and had exited a womb of some sort. I stood up too quickly, and promptly fainted. Luckily, Laura’s son was standing nearby to provide a steadying hand until I regained control.

For the hours and days after our temazcal, Jürgen and I felt amazing. A two hour steam bath is intense! I’ve never sweated so much in my life, and it really seemed like everything negative in my mind and body had been pushed out through my pores. Quite an experience, and though it’s not one I’m eager to repeat, it’s something I’ll probably never forget.

Location On Our Map

Travel Insurance For Your Trip To Tulum

Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
Temazcal Steam Bath Tulum
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February 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm Comment (1)

The Azulik Hotel in Tulum

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Located in the Tulum National Park, the Azulik Hotel hosted us for our five day trip to the region. Built atop a natural hill, each cabaña boasts a vista over the shimmering azure waters of the Caribbean, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better home away from home.

Azulik Eco Lodge

Because of its location within the borders of a national park which is frequented by sea turtles, there is no electricity in any of Azulik’s cabañas. Candlelight all the way. Though it’s tempting to see this as an annoyance, it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s actually among Azulik’s chief benefits. No electricity means no TVs. No radios blasting from the neighboring hut. No opportunity to flip open the laptop and work. No entertainment other than sitting on the patio with a bottle of wine and the starry night sky.

An adults-only establishment, Azulik sells itself as a romantic getaway for couples, so there won’t be any screaming kids terrorizing your vacation. The hotel offers yoga and reiki sessions, massages and temazcal, and you can even hold your wedding here.

We stuck to the same schedule for every night of our stay in Azulik. Dinner, followed by a long bath in the wooden tub. Then sitting together on the terrace, chatting about the day or star-gazing in silence. And finally stretching out on the bed, and allowing the sound of the waves to carry us off into sleep. It’s relaxing just to remember it. The Azulik is a perfectly romantic place to escape from the stress of your regular life.

Location on our Map

Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
Azulik Eco Lodge
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February 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm Comments (2)

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Ka'a Xi'itech, Yucatn Once again, another 91 days have come and gone. This time, we're saying adiós to the Yucatán Peninsula. Our three months here were amazing; an almost perfect mix of history, culture, sight-seeing and adventure. We're leaving with tanned bodies, relaxed minds, and memories that we won't soon forget.
For 91 Days