Tracing Mayan Tradition and Culture
Waterfalls, ruins, wildlife and more....
Sep 13, 2019 at 8:00 AM in Things to Do by
It is believed that the Maya people settled in Cozumel toward the early part of the first millennium AD. Many of these indigenous people still live in Central America and Mexico today, however, Classic Maya civilization the likes of which dominated this land back in ancient times disappeared toward 900 AD. The exact reasons for this demise are not clearly known although it appears that it was due to a significant environmental change such as a drought. The Mayan culture is fascinating: Not only did they devise a complex calendar, but they were the only people from the Stone Age that developed a writing system from their spoken language. They also excelled in mathematics, skills that surely helped them in building their distinctive, stepped pyramids, palaces and plazas. And as you may have heard, the Maya practiced human sacrifice, rituals that thankfully died out (couldn’t help that pun) along ages ago. (Thank God for that!)
You can learn much about the Mayan culture inland on Cozumel. Some of the best Mayan ruins on the island are at San Gervasio, an archeological site located within the interior of the northern part of the island. A visit here is worthwhile for those interested in finding out more about the Mayan culture and traditions and also for those that want to visit an altar used in the sacrificial ceremonies. (Yikes!) Run by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, this National Monument also serves as a wildlife refuge. Inhabited by many types of endemic birds and lizards, the iguana are among the friendliest. As you can imagine, they go well with the landscape.
For an exhilarating visit to Mayan vestiges, take an excursion with Wild Tour Adventures. They’ll lead you through the mangroves and into the heart of the jungle in a cutting-edge ROV or ATV. This is a great way to experience the richness of the Cozumel interior or shore while finding out more about the island’s history.
Highly revered within the Mayan culture, bees were treaty as deity. Honey possesses a swarm of special properties, most of which promote healing and good nutrition. The Mayan beekeeping tradition of meliponiculture is thriving in Cozumel and especially at the Mayan Bee Sanctuary where you can learn all about it. Best of all: These bees do not have stingers, so they are very special buzzing beings. One of the best parts of this place is its gift shop. Here, you can delight in many different kinds of honey as well as a a variety of other gift ideas relating to bees and their hives.
Apparently the Maya indulged as much as possible in the good stuff, including chocolate. In fact the origins of our beloved chocolate of today may be traced directly back to the Mayan culture. This is the part of the world where cacao beans flourish and the Maya found out quickly what an intoxicating drink chocolate could be. Yes, that’s right; during the Maya civilization, chocolate was often consumed as a fiery drink. It was reserved for the elite–mostly priests and emperors-some of whom downed this spicy elixir before heading out to battle, or at least before venturing into the harem (for some). At one point, cacao beans were even used as currency. Find out all about this rich history of chocolate at The Mayan Cacao Factory, a colorful place to visit that showcases many interactive exhibits and the possibility to taste and buy chocolate in a variety of forms. You can also do a chocolate tour at Kaokao Chocolate Factory.
A visit to Punta Sur Eco Beach is a great way to combine outdoor activities with history. Also known as the Faro Celerain Eco Park, this sprawling eco park in south Cozumel is home to all kinds of exotic birds, sea turtles, crocodiles and more. It’s a must for wildlife lovers as well as those curious about the pirate and corsair doings in these parts throughout the centuries. These tales are told in a museum within the park that also traces the history of the Maya people. It’s a great way to combine nature and culture. There’s even a tall lighthouse with an amazing view. And guess what? You can take a catamaran tour here as well. Cool beans. Cool cacao beans that would be.