The lesser-visited Maya Ka’an area stretches lazily alongside Mexico’s Caribbean coast, on the Yucatán Peninsula. Right here, Maya communities attempt to guard the land and nurture historical, sustainable crafts, from gum harvesting to rope making.
Printed 8 Oct 2022, 06:03 BST
Custom thrives within the Maya Ka’an, the place ceremonies — rooted within the reciprocal relationship the Maya have with the land — are an essential a part of every day life. No websites are extra sacred than cenotes, dotted throughout the peninsula. As the one supply of recent water within the area, these limestone sinkholes have been vitally essential to the traditional Maya, whose cities flourished throughout the Yucatán between the fourth and tenth centuries. Cenotes are nonetheless thought of sacred portals to the legendary underworld of Xibalba, and pilgrimages are recurrently undertaken to them, together with the one within the village of Dzulá, close to the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto.
Handed down by way of the generations, one other historical custom includes extracting the sap of the chicozapote tree to provide a pure chewing gum known as chicle, which is consumed inside the group and offered as a supply of earnings. The sap is strained to take away any impurities, then — as soon as sufficient has been harvested — it’s combined with boiling water. With steady stirring, the sap slowly turns into gum.
At 82 years previous, Ceveriano Xooi Pat has been climbing chicozapote bushes to reap sap for the reason that age of 11. A tree can solely be tapped each seven years so it may get well, making certain a sustainable crop.
The UNESCO World Heritage Website of Sian Ka’an, which grew to become a biosphere reserve in 1986, is without doubt one of the most sacred pure websites for the modern Maya inhabitants, having featured of their ancestors’ cosmology. Within the historical Mayan tongue, ‘sian ka’an’ means ‘the place the place the sky is born’.
A posh and serene mosaic of tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, the 1.3-million-acre Sian Ka’an reserve is a habitat for each freshwater and saltwater crocodiles, plus a bunch of uncommon mammals, together with manatees, jaguars, pumas and the Central American tapir.
Internet hosting greater than 300 avian species, together with the naked–throated tiger heron, Sian Ka’an can also be a magnet for birdwatchers, who keep at conventional lakeside cabanas, largely operated by the native Maya inhabitants.
Round 2,000 individuals name the Sian Ka’an reserve house, dwelling in conventional homes, nurturing a way of group, espousing self-sufficiency and, above all, coexisting in concord with nature.
A far cry from the bustle of travellers on the Yucatán Peninsula’s extra well-known historical Maya citadels, Tulum and Chichén Itzá, the ruins of Chunyaxché sit quietly amid the Maya group of Muyil, on the sting of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. As spectacular as any archaeological web site within the area, Chunyaxché retains a tranquil, virtually mystical high quality, and its primary temple boasts the very best pyramid on Yucatán’s east coast, standing 57ft tall.
Additional into the inside, within the Maya city of Señor, Mauro Yama Ek makes sisal rope from the leaf of the henequen plant.
Identified among the many historical Mayas as ‘inexperienced gold’, henequen comprises fibres which might be extracted from the leaf, dried after which sure collectively to type a particularly sturdy twine. In Señor, and throughout the Maya Ka’an area, it’s utilized in a wide range of methods, together with within the crafting of fishing nets, baskets and hammocks.
The roots of recent farming and forest lore stretch again to the traditional Maya, who extracted colored pigments from a lot of pure sources within the Yucatán’s forests. These may very well be was a paste to dye clothes, add to meals or to create paint for ornamental and creative functions. Some of the in style sources used at this time is the achiote seedpod, which is combined with soil and water and boiled for an hour or so to create a vivid crimson pigment.
This wall mural was painted with pigments extracted from achiote seeds. In comparison with Cancun and Tulum, to the north, life within the Maya Ka’an area continues at a lot the identical tempo it has for hundreds of years, drawing on historical knowledge and methods of worship that honour the Mayan inhabitants’s forebears and the forest.
The best way to do it
Sumak Journey promotes ecotourism and Indigenous-led initiatives within the Maya Ka’an. sumak-travel.org
Group Excursions Sian Ka’an is a cooperative that encourages consciousness of Maya tradition. siankaantours.com.
Rutopía provides tailored journey experiences throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. rutopia.com