Experience the Yucatán, Mexico People come from all over the world to see the wondrous sights and Maya ruins of the Southern part of Mexico—the Yucatán. The ruins are beautiful and even mysterious. Places like Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Loltún are visited over and over again, sometimes multiple times by the same people. Both the natural and the manmade wonders draw so many people to explore this part of Mexico. Sightseeing Celestún Celestún, where the water is blue and the food is delicious, is a fishing town in the Gulf of Mexico especially known for its seafood. Restaurants right on the sand offer you the chance to enjoy a tasty meal while watching the sunset. Many people go to Celestún for its array of wildlife too. Flamingos are part of Celestún’s ecosystem and it is quite a sight to see. They may not have as beautiful a sound as some other birds, but the sight of them makes it worth it. The flamingos have made it their home because the water is perfect for them—it’s made up of both fresh water and salt water. To see the flamingos a little closer, you can take a guided boat trip. And even better, as part of the boat trip, you can see the Tampeten petrified forest in a wetland of freshwater. Sounds impossible, right? That’s part of what makes it so amazing. It’s a forest where the roots of the trees are under the water, but the trunks are growing above for all to see. The best part about Celestún is that it’s not crowded with tourists, so it can be truly relaxing, like a vacation should be. Cenotes The Yucatán is hot, so one of the most refreshing aspects of its geography is the cenotes. A cenote is a natural, freshwater pool and they are found all over the Yucatán. Anciently, the Maya people used many of them for sacrificial purposes. Today, locals and tourists alike use them for swimming, especially on a hot summer day. Some are hidden away deep in caves while others are out in the open for all to see. Almost anywhere you go in the Yucatán, you can find a cenote.
Mérida Mérida is the capitol of the Yucatán and a city filled with great food, fun activities, a unique culture, and plenty to see. Public transportation is cheap and both the buses and the taxis are easy to use, so getting around the town isn’t a problem at all. While downtown, in El Centro as it’s called, there are shops, restaurants, and vendors on the street. The activities range from touring a beautiful, old Cathedral to visiting an art museum, or stopping for lunch at one of the many restaurants or markets. Some of the most common meals that are native to the Yucatán are panuchos (very basically, black bean filled tostados) and sopa de lima (lime soup). Also in El Centro, you can buy hammocks, hats, or even live cockroaches connected to a broach to wear on your shirt as decoration. Yes, you read correctly. A common product sold in El Centro, something you’ll find in almost any shop, is a cockroach, alive. It’s usually bejeweled and has a chain glued to it so that you can wear it on your shirt around town. The Beach One of the best parts about Mexico is the beach! That’s why many people go to Mexico in the first place. The water is warm and blue. And if you’re staying in Merida, La Playa Progresso is only 30 minutes on the bus. Remember to wear lots of sunscreen because the sun in Mexico will burn your skin faster than you might think. Maya Ruins Uxmal Uxmal is one of the many Maya pyramids in Mexico. Some would say it’s the most amazing archeological site in the area. There are only eleven ancient buildings currently uncovered in the area, but there are over 200 more still buried underground! If you stay at Uxmal until dark, you can see the amazing light show and learn a little about Uxmal’s history. The show is in Spanish, though, so if you don’t speak it, you may want to take an English tour during the day.
Loltún Loltún is a huge cave that is cool and dry in the midst of a climate that is hot and humid—one of the many wonders that we find in this part of the world. It’s filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Did you know that it takes 100 years for one stalagmite to grow a half-inch? And touching one can stunt its growth because of the oils on your hands. There are ancient paintings on the cave walls too, from the time of the ancient Maya people. Along with the natural wonders of the walls and ceilings in the cave, there are even more wonders as you go deeper into the cave. Here, you can get a guided tour, as you can at many of the other sights in the Yucatán. Mayapán Mayapán is one of the less common Maya ruins. It’s not as full of tourists as some of the others, but still just as amazing. One of the coolest things about Mayapán is that you’re allowed to climb on all the pyramids. There are no ropes to block out the people like there are at most of the others. It’s like a playground for adults. A huge ancient, marvelous playground. Other Adventures One of the most exciting parts about the Yucatán is the weather. It is hottest during the spring months. It is usually in the 90s and sometimes reaches up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Even during the winter, it almost never gets colder than 60 degrees. Obviously, though, the most common time to go is during the summer because that’s when most people have their vacation time. Summer in the Yucatán is usually in the 90s and the rainstorms are so much fun. It often rains so much that the streets are flooded and you have to walk down the street in water up to your knees. Oh, and the rain brings out the bugs too. Although Mexico is already filled with big and interesting bugs, even more seem to come out after a rainstorm, so make sure you wear plenty of bug spray.