I fell in love with the country known as Mexico instantly allured by the culture and vibrancy of the city Playa Del Carmen. Follow me through my journey of how I discovered the Mexican experience.
Why Mexico? I had heard of Cancun thrown around in conversation, but I wasn't looking for a tourist vacation, I wanted an authentic Mexican experience enriched with a culture that would leave me asking for more. When Playa Del Carmen was mentioned, it made perfect sense that this slice of paradise was hiding in plain sight. Mexico is a country rich with ancient Aztec and Mayan history. Just strolling through the city, the mix of old and new architecture coexists harmoniously. Playa Del Carmen is located in the state of Quintana Roo along the Caribbean Sea. In recent history the city has undergone rapid redevelopment with new luxury builds, making it desirable, yet less of a mainstream, tourist destination. Playa Del Carmen is a vibrant and illustrious city, each street is filled with eloquently designed street art. Complimented by the natural indigenous plants, and blossoming flowers. It's hard to keep your camera out of your hand. The people of Mexico allow you to fall in love with their culture and friendly nature, they make you feel welcomed and a part of their family. The vibrancy of Playa Del Carmen, the boutique stores filled with charming beauty, a city like no other unique and beautiful in its own way.
First stop upon arrival was to look for an adventure, in which for the most part I had protested I was not going to take part. However once on the adventure, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. A combination of zip lining, abseiling, swimming and ATV riding through the rainforest over an 8 hour period. Known as the Maya Adrenaline experience our tour guide Johnny was unique full of enthusiasm and banter, which kept all of us entertained throughout the day. Alongside the tour, it includes a roundtrip to and from your hotel, with an authentic Mexican lunch. The journey begins with a high speed drive through the thick of the rainforest dodging potholes and breathing in the fresh surroundings. Upon arrival you are fitted with harnessing equipment, you hike and abseil to various points and zip line at accelerating heights. Playa Del Carmen is a city built on cenote's (caves) Riviera Maya is no exception sitting delicately at the foot of the rainforest is what appears to be a small river meeting point, the tranquil space widens as you travel deeper into the cenote, the natural forming surfaces of stagalites leave you in awe. The best experience is saved until the end. A traditional Mexican sauna, in a clay hut with a pitch black interior. In the centre lies a mixture of minerals and salts to cleanse your body before entering the cenote. The steam process prepares you for the refreshing immersive experience. The river within the cenote is filled with Garra rufa also known as the pedicure fish. The sand on the bed of the cenote is filled with natural exfoliates, which gives an all in one natural outdoor spa experience. Highly recommended adventure for your everyday thrill seeker.
It would be a crime to travel all the way to Mexico and not visit one of the new seven wonders of the world. A trip like this had to be done in style a deluxe edition including a unique opportunity to visit the Mayan community and a stop in Valladolid, home to one of the oldest cathedrals in the world. The Mayan community is indigenous to Mexico and parts of Belize, Honduras and El Salvador, they are now a minority who reside on the outskirts of Yucatan. Still maintaining their traditional customs. Mayans are known for their brightly covered textile based dresses and capes. To help preserve the community, all souvenirs and meals included in the tour are fed directly back, helping to sustain their lifestyle.
Continuing on the journey of discovery Suytun a cenote located in Yucatan is an underground cavern, surrounded by the natural forming stalagmite. At the bottom, you catch a glimpse of shallow water, what makes Suytun so striking, as you look above a slice of daylight pierces through creating a glow of shadows.
Egypt has mesmerised the world from the promise of hidden treasure to the adventures of Indiana Jones, however, the true art of pyramid Architecture lies in Chichen Itza. Leading to the path is a sarong of sellers pitching their souvenirs to bustling tourists paired with the scorching heat. Drawing you in closer to the cluster of pyramids, you are simply taken aback at the grandeur, of the archaeological site.
Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities. The site welcomes around 1.4 million visitors every year. Chichen Itza is made from a cluster of pyramids and ruins but is dominated by El Castillo was known as the Temple of Kukulkan. One of the hidden beauties of El Castillo is that it is built on top of a pre-existing structure. Serpents run down the sides of the northern face of El Castillo. During the spring and autumn equinox, the sun strikes off the northwest corner of the pyramid casting a shadow, creating the illusion of a serpent crawling down. Each pyramid has 91 steps, with a total of 365 steps equal to the number of days in the year. If that wasn't enough astronomical precision when standing within 200 metres of El Castillo when you clap a sound unique only to the pyramid can be heard, almost the sound of a mythical bird, your clap reverberates back to you, a sound which scientists cant explain. It is no secret the Maya community were advanced astronomers. The grounds also have evidence of ball courts which is the largest preserved ball court in ancient Mesopotamia. It is no wonder Chichen Itza has been named one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
Valladolid is located south-east of Yucatan. This beautiful city is an eccentric mix of ancient Spanish architecture paired with Mayan architecture, which is a demonstration of their history over 500 years. The city is rich with vibrancy and fresh smells of toffee churros fill the air. The city is centred around the historically dreamy San Gervasio cathedral, which is steeped in history, no matter what angle your stand, you will be guaranteed to catch a quality snap.
The fascination with cenotes did not end at Yucatan, what can only be described as a manmade architecture at it's best. Alux restaurant is designed within a cenote. The flow of space has been carefully designed, not to interrupt mother nature but to compliment. As you descend down what appears to be a rainforest in the middle of the city, you are greeted by a candlelit staircase and a chandelier in the foyer filled with grandeur. The dining experience can only be described as something out of this world, with a menu to match. As you delve deeper into space, it is divided into private dining areas, including a private wine cellar as well as the stream running through the cenote. Alux is an unforgettable dining experience that has to be seen to be believed.
All images are copyright of Copper Dust, all tour experiences can be found on the links below.
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Chichen Itza clap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmfZ9rJe36U