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Yes, You Can in the Yucatán

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Photo by Luis Aguillar

The mix of abundant culture, natural beauty, and exotic wildlife makes the southernmost tip of Mexico the perfect place for the most magical summer of your life. There is so much to do, see, and experience that you could fill an entire summer. Or you’ll find yourself coming back for more!

The Yucatán Peninsula is the homeland of the Mayan people, who developed one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas. Today, there are seven million people in Mexico who live by Maya traditions and speak the language. You’ll find that understanding the mixture of Maya and Spanish influence that is ever present in the area will make every moment of your stay a magnificent experience.

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A Dive into Heaven

The Yucatán Peninsula is home to over 7,000 cenotes— beautiful caverns filled with bright blue water. The peninsula is basically a slab of limestone that, over centuries, has been eroded by rain, leaving breathtaking cenotes in its wake. To the Maya, these cenotes were gateways to the afterlife and tools for communicating with water gods. Visit Santa Barbara Cenotes and Restaurant, where you can ride bikes or horse-drawn carriages from one cenote to the next. As the sunlight glistens in through the top of the cenote, you’ll understand why the Maya believed them to be so heavenly.

A Night Out

Visit the city center of Mérida on a Monday night to watch La Jarana, an elegant dance set to a combination of Spanish folklore music and pentaphonic sounds of Mayan music. The women wear a traditional terno, an intricately embroidered white, square-necked dress, and the men an embroidered dress shirt called a guayabera. The show consists of all the dances typically done at a Vaqueria, a celebration that landowners organize to thank their hired hands after branding the cattle. In the final song, the women dance with a tray of full bottles balanced on their heads, demonstrating their poise and talent. The bright colors of the costumes and the beautiful music make for an amazing show you won’t want to miss.

Flamingos and Gators and Sharks . . . Oh My!

The Yucatán is teeming with spectacular wildlife. Take a boat tour in Rio Lagartos for the chance to see animals native to the peninsula in their natural habitat. See an alligator so close you can touch its tail, feed a bird out of your hand, and admire a pink flock of flamingos as they fly above the water. You can even swim with whale sharks, if you’re feeling especially adventurous!

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Photo by Brizeida Villarreal<br>

Ancient Architecture

Come and see the remnants of ancient Maya civilizations at one of the many ruins and archeological sites in the Yucatán Peninsula. Haggle with vendors in Chichen Itza, enjoy the beachside ruins of Tulum, and climb to the top of the tallest ruin in Ek’ Balam. As you walk the grounds of these sites, imagine what it may have looked like in the past, put yourself in the shoes of the early villagers, and find the human connection we all share.

Book your next trip to the Yucatán and consider getting a one-way ticket; once you’re there, you’ll never want to leave!
—London Brimhall


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Photo by Gabriel Benois