December 2020

It is hard to believe the first month in Mexico has already gone by. I still wake up most mornings not realizing I am truly here. Despite needing to quarantine for two weeks due to a potential exposure to the virus which is ravishing the world currently, the time so far has passed by very quickly. To reflect on the time here thus far, overall it has been a great experience and I am very happy with my decision to stay here. The city I am living in, Oxkutzcab, was the perfect choice for what I am looking for out of this experience. I very much prefer the smaller city vibes and the cultural charm here. It is a great location for getting out to explore the natural beauty and historical sites of the region.

During the first month, I have checked out three cenotes so far and one ancient Mayan city. Cenotes are caverns below the ground created by sinkholes of the limestone. When this occurred, the underground, crystal clear, freshwater was exposed. Historically the Maya people used them for their water sources, while today they are used as swimming holes and in some of the deeper cenotes there are also divers present. Each one is unique but they are all equally beautiful. Although cenotes exist outside of Mexico, there are thousands around the Yucatan peninsula. Some have been developed to attract tourism while others require off roading deep into the jungle to reach.

Mayapan was the second Mayan city built, as the political and cultural center of the ancient people. The site is centered around the Temple of Kukulcan, a large pyramid. It is one of the few sites in which visitors may climb the stone buildings, including the pyramid. As is the case with all of the ruins, wildlife is protected and allowed to run free. During our visit we saw one snake, two bats and many iguanas.

I was also honored to participate in a Mayan blessing ritual. Every three years, the modern Maya still participate in Jets Lu'um or a prayer to calm the earth. The ritual is a way to thank the Gods and to ask for continued yield for their crops and livestock. There is a sacrifice given in the form of livestock, typically poultry. An entire family, community or town will gather to prepare a meal of a soup, chog'o, and meats. The meal is enjoyed by everyone. It was such a fantastic experience and view into the customs of the native peoples' lives.

Upcoming plans include visits to more cenotes and Mayan sites, including the most famous, Chicken Itza. I also have some time reserved in Progreso, a quiet beach community, and working out details to stay a few nights in El Cuyo to explore Las Coloradas, where the bay is pink and is a top spot for seeing flamingos. Check in next month for updates with these adventures and be sure to subscribe to YouTube and follow on Instagram!

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