What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “vacation”?. The most common thought is relaxation, fun and new places, the desire for travel where you have never been. And most important, to absorb a little bit culture of the place you are about to know. This time we will submerge in an entirely different tour, a real encounter with one of the most important Mayan Communities in Riviera Maya. If you are one of those who loves to explore beyond what is already known, this trip was definitely for you.
The Señor community is located 30 kilometers or a 20 minute drive from Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Take the highway that leads to Valladolid, a right hand turn as you enter Felipe Carrillo Puerto. There are different activities that this tour offers through a local co-operative named Xyaat. Marcos, who is the original creator of this community tour, got the entire community together to discuss about a different way to bring sustain the community. This community survived on milpas, the production of honey, and the creation of arts and crafts sold to large cities. Marco introduced the idea of ‘community tourism, where villagers invited people into their community to see how they lived, how they utilized the environment, and how their Mayan community worked together. The experience is that the community created is exactly as this community lives. Community members have opened up their homes and welcomed people into their world. The contrast of the Riviera Maya is evident in this experience. Visitors come from one of the most important touristic areas of Mexico, and yet feel close to the Mayans you share how they live and continue to live.
Once you arrive at Señor you are welcomed with fresh fruit and fresh watermelon water. Marcos is the main guide and becomes your human translator since all the people who live in the community speak Mayan. Transportation within the community is by Motorcycle taxis, which is a cool experience. The first stop is a traditional herbal doctor, a woman who knows every plant and its medicinal use. There is no disease or illness she doesn´t know how to treat. She has cured a simple headache to breast cancer using only herbal medicine.
The next stop will be Mr Abundio´s house, better known as the historian of the community. He is 96 years old but he can recall every anecdote from his parents and grandparents, “The Mayans didn’t have any guns to protect themselves, but they had God” he explains when asked about the Caste War, a civil war between the European-descended population, called Yucatecos and Mayans.
Next you will meet a Mayan coronel who will teach you how to properly “peel” an agave plant to convert it to sisal fibre. You might even be challenged to do it!
The last part of the trip introduces the local environment and Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon). Witness nothing but the sound of the local birds, see majestic trees and deep blue waters. Everything is so at peace you could hear your own heartbeat. And if you haven’t fall in love with the place by then, once you return to the village, the most delicious organic meal is waiting for you: fresh handmade tortillas, beans, Chaya (local spinach), scrambled eggs and a salad made with lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. All the ingredients are harvested by the community from their milpas. Tortillas are from maize fields, eggs come from chickens they have in their own backyards and fruits are cut from their trees.
Most of the communities like this one struggle with local changes. Many leave the community in search of work to support their families. This migration could be seen as an advantage but communities are losing their traditions, their ability to farm their land, and need to learn new languages to participate in local tourist activities. As younger generations get so used to the city life, it is hard to continue maintaining the way of life they grew up with or the language they first learned.
The goal of Xyaat co-operative and Ojos Mayas Community Tourism is to keep the local Maya traditions and their communities thriving. Community tourism encourages people to keep their local jobs, live in their homes, and support their families without giving up who they are and what they know.
There are many ways to support Mayan Communities in addition to Community tourism. Shop for authentic Mayan souvenirs, purchase their products and learn more about this unique indigenous community. Community tourism not only lets others discover the richness of the Mayan culture but support and help villages keep the wonderful culture that makes the Riviera Maya what it is.
You can support this Mayan community and be part of this incredible experience. For more information about this tour and how to book it during your stay, visit Ojos Mayas or email [email protected] to arrange a visit to the Señor Mayan Community.