Yucatán Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

Temazcal: The Mexican Sweat Bath

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

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
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
February 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm Comment (1)

Pictures from Tulum Town

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The beaches are unforgettable, but there’s a side to Tulum which has nothing to do with sand or turquoise blue waters. And that would be the actual town, where most of the locals live and work. It’s not quite as picturesque, but don’t let that keep you away… we enjoyed the pueblo almost as much as the coast.

Tulum Blog

Tulum Town provides a nice dose of “normal life” after the paradise-overload of the beach. The bars and restaurants are good, and a lot cheaper. And though you’ll see a lot of tourists wandering the streets, and a few chintzy souvenir shops, the pueblo has managed to retain its Mexican identity.

Location on our Map

Vacation Rentals in Tulum

Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
Tulum Blog
, , , ,
February 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm Comment (1)

A Trip to Tulum

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

We saved Tulum for the final road trip of our stay on the Yucatán Peninsula. Everything we’d heard had suggested that this city perched on the edge of the Caribbean would blow our minds. And everything we’d heard was exactly right. Tulum is paradise.

Tulum Beaches

You know who Tulum will appeal to? Rich, retired hippies. Paradise doesn’t come cheap, and to get the most out of it, you’re going to need both time and money. And you’re going to need the right mindset. Tulum isn’t for golf-playing former executives and their mascara-laden wives. It’s for your kooky Aunt Janice, who discovered yoga in her sixties and believes in the healing power of the moon. Seriously, Aunt Janice is going to love Tulum. She’s going to swim with turtles and meditate on the beach. She’ll take a young lover and later torture you with the details of their passionate exploits. Aunt Janice shares too much, and you cringe every time she uses the word “lover”, but look at her. She’s glowing. Good for her.

You know who else Tulum will appeal to? Poor, young hippies. If you don’t need comfortable lodging and beach-side massages, you can enjoy Tulum on any budget. There are cheap accommodation options in town, and good, inexpensive restaurants. The sun, the ocean, the party atmosphere, they don’t cost anything, and you’ve got your dreadlocks and your guitar. I’m sorry: your ukulele. You’re going to find tons of people to jam with on the beach. Keep your hands off Aunt Janice, please, but otherwise have fun, young hippie. You’ve found your place.

Tulum Beaches

I’m being too snarky, but there are a lot of hippies in Tulum, and hippies get my snark juices flowing. Tulum is the kind of place where you’re more likely to see someone dressed as a harlequin than in a suit and tie. I mean that literally. We literally saw more harlequins than businessmen in Tulum. And I don’t mean, they were going to be performing on stage or something. I mean, they were dressed as harlequins because this is how they choose to live. Clown-trannies. Hey, I respect it.

So yes, it’s hippie paradise, but you know who else Tulum is going to appeal to? Everyone. I seriously can’t imagine anyone disliking this place. It’s absolutely magical. The amazing beaches, the restaurants and the hotels. The beach clubs. The town itself, the ruins up on the bluff. The crystal clear water and, yes, even the hippy-vibe. By the end of our five days in Tulum, I was more in touch with my spiritual side than I’ve ever been. I felt closer to nature. I had experiences in Tulum that made me reflect on what was really important in my life. And I’m being completely serious.

Tulum inspires a kind of relaxed state of inactivity, but we resisted the urge to spend all day on our balcony at the incredible Azulik Hotel, and kept our schedule pretty full. Apart from the beach, there’s so much to do in and around the city that we didn’t have a moment to spare.

Location of Tulum on our Map

Cheap Flights To Mexico

Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
Tulum Beaches
, , , , ,
February 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm Comments (2)
Temazcal: The Mexican Sweat Bath 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.
For 91 Days