Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday Travels: Grandeur of the Seas, Costa Maya, Mexico part 1

Costa Maya, Mexico. A port made specifically for cruise ships. Yep, look up the history of Costa Maya and you will find it is quite short, as in non existent. Built by savvy developers in 1995, its purpose is simply to bring in tourists. 

As a port it tends to bring mixed reviews. The shoppers are not impressed, though the pier does offer the "International" experience, Diamonds International, Tanzanite International, color changing clothing International...OK, you get the idea. But if you want to hang out in a fancy pool all day, it does have that! Seriously though, it is a great area...if you get away from the port.

We did just that, though we did divide up. DH and I, along with our DS and DDIL, decided to explore the nearby Mayan ruins. Meanwhile, DD and DSIL decided a lazy day at the beach was more their speed. We all had a wonderful day, but today I will focus on the Mayan experience.

Once again, after some intensive research, I decided to forgo the cruise ship tour and go with an independent local company. What ensued was one of the most memorable days of my cruising experience. I found a gem in this company, and we had an amazing experience that put the cruise ship version to shame. Our trip to the Chacchoben ruins was led by a man who actually grew up playing among the ruins. The Native Choice is run by Ivan Cohuo, who's father built next to the ruins in the 1940's. His knowledge is incredible! You will not find this on any cruise ship excursion.

Chaccoben was wonderful, and as Ivan was training to be a Mayan healer, his botanical knowledge was fascinating! We learned so much, and with a small group it was easy to ask questions.

Additionally we had the experience of eating a traditional meal with a Mayan family at their home in the nearby village. Again, a very unique experience that the ship didn't offer. 

They had the typical Mayan kitchen...a small open air hut separate from the main if there is a fire their home will not burn down. No gas, propane or electricity to cook with, Just good old man made fire.

We learned to make corn tortillas and learned a lot of fascinating cultural facts. Mainly that a bride is valued mostly for her tortilla making skills! You see here our DDIL trying her hand at it. Behind her is Ivan.

The meal was delicious and most the ingredients are actually found in the garden surrounding the home. The Hibiscus tea was wonderful!

After lunch one of the woman put on traditional dance clothes and shared their dances with us. She began with a traditional woman's dance which included a beer bottle balanced on her head, then had others join in. My DS and DDIL had a blast!

We finished with a tour of their home, a single room hut. They are actually quite well to do, as they have a concrete foundation and electricity in their hut. They even had a 10" TV and a sewing machine. And yes, they do sleep in the hammocks, which are tied up out of the way during the day.

They were a wonderful, gracious family, and we enjoyed our time with them. Looking at this picture you can see why we decided that our DDIL must be of Mayan descent! My DS, at 5'10", was a GIANT!

Upcoming: DD and DSIL's beach experience in Majahual.

Bon voyage! ~Marla

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