Maya Overdrive in Cancun & the Riviera Maya

Numerous fall events provide opportunities to celebrate the end of the Maya calendar By: Mark Rogers
At Tulum’s Pyramid of Positive Thoughts, tourists are invited to bring recycled bottles filled with handwritten well-wishes. // © 2012 Cancun...
At Tulum’s Pyramid of Positive Thoughts, tourists are invited to bring recycled bottles filled with handwritten well-wishes. // © 2012 Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Details

Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau

With the end of the Maya calendar just around the corner, visitors to Cancun and the Riviera Maya will find many special events and activities taking place from now until Dec. 21. These happenings beckon visitors to explore Maya culture and heritage while marking the destination’s rebirth in the year 2012, which closes out the traditional Maya calendar. While some half-glass-empty types have trumpeted end of the world scenarios, the Yucatan and Quintana Roo have embraced this dramatic day by welcoming visitors from around the world to celebrate a new beginning while exploring Maya culture and heritage.

In Tulum, tourists are invited to bring recycled bottles filled with handwritten well-wishes to the Pyramid of Positive Thoughts, a modern day pyramid under construction by artist Xavier de Maria y Campos. The pyramid will pay tribute to the Mayan’s legacy and precision regarding their calendar. By placing these thoughts on paper, the artist hopes that the cosmic energy will be encrypted in the sacred geometry of the pyramid, thus enabling these wishes to become reality.

Xcaret eco-archeological park also offers several themed events for families to explore Maya culture in a fun and interactive way. From Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, the park invites visitors to learn about Maya history and its diverse characteristics across various regions of Mexico through the observance of Day of the Dead ceremonies. Visitors will get to learn and personally experience The Day of the Dead holiday, which allows Mexican families to honor the souls of their dearly departed, who come back on this day to enjoy earthly pleasures.

From Dec. 1 to 22, guests are invited to re-enact another Maya tradition — using trees to send their messages to the gods. The Maya had four cosmic directions represented by four sacred trees. The four trees were each a different color, and the Mayans believed they offered a way to communicate directly with the gods. Also during Dec. 21 and 22, visitors at Xcaret will watch the freeing of 104 macaws, which will fill the sky with a red glow as the birds fly away. Macaws were very significant in the Mayan culture, since they represent the sun. During the evening of Dec. 21, Xcaret’s restaurant, The Island, will offer guests the opportunity to celebrate the rebirth of the Maya calendar at a gala dinner that will include dancing, a traditional meal and a special tribute. A special nightly show called Xcaret Mexico Espectacular will commemorate the Maya culture between Dec. 1 and 21 in the Tlachco area of the park.

Xel-ha, an ecological park that is often referred to as the largest natural aquarium in the world, will also celebrate Maya traditions. On Dec. 20 and 22, the park will be the site of evening candlelight ceremonies for guests to celebrate the coming of the new era among a sea of floating candles. The park will host a nightly dinner party from Dec. 17 to 22, where local astronomers share their knowledge of the night sky and explain Maya astronomical predictions. Xel-Ha will also present monthly yoga and meditation sessions that offer guests a feeling of harmony and peace amidst a breathtaking ocean backdrop. Upcoming dates include Oct. 20, Nov. 24, Dec. 17 and Dec. 22.

There are many opportunities to commune with nature in the Maya tradition. Visitors can take a swim in the clear waters of cenotes (limestone sinkholes) in the region, which Mayans considered to have calming and purifying properties. Guests can also sit under Ceiba trees, which were sacred to the Mayans. It is believed that the gods sit atop the Ceiba trees and listen to our wishes and desires. Throughout the destination, vacationers can explore traditional regenerative massage therapies and temazcal treatments, which embody the ancient wisdom of pre-Columbian cultures. Tourists can mix soft adventure with spirituality by ziplining through the air while dropping seeds in the forests of Quintana Roo, leaving a positive mark on the earth.

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