We recently took a trip through the Yucatan Peninsula on a Mayan Ruin adventure for our son Charlie’s 21st birthday! We traveled the road less traveled, driving all over the Yucatan in a little rental car. First we saw three sets of Mayan Ruins: Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Palenque (more about these in a later post). Then we spent two days on the Gulf of Mexico after visiting all the ruins in a town called Celestun (pronounced “cel-es-toon”). This is the type of travel we love! We knew we’d have an amazing time but what we didn’t know is that the best part of our trip were the encounters with the people.
When I first started connecting I had no idea what I know now know: what else is there in life but connection? Deep down inside I often feel shy or a little reserved. It is sometimes hard for me to get over that reserve and share of myself; or hard to dig deep and find out about other’s lives. Over the years I’ve pushed myself out of my shell, gotten out of my comfort zone. One of the ways I’ve done this is by asking others questions and really listening to what they’ve had to say.
Connecting with others is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. I feel like a better person…if I’ve connected with my students and parents, if I’ve connected with my husband or kids, if I’ve volunteered and really helped or even if I’ve just connected passing someone in the street with a smile or are eye connect – all this is what makes an ordinary day less ordinary but extraordinary!
We found the Mayan/Mexican people to be kind and helpful. As Americans, we sometimes at first viewed them with suspicion… why do these people want to help us? What are they trying to sell? We let go of that after a while. Then we were able to get so many positive messages that I began to write them down.
Listen before You SpeakWe met Jamie (pronounced “Hi-me”) at the ruins of Chichen Itza. Our guide told us proudly that he is 69 years old and still learning more about his ancient ancestors all the time. We learned from him that the Mayan people were observant, quiet and always listening. We learned that people all came from the same source.
You Already Have Everything You NeedWe met Bebe at the hotel where he played music with his sons and brother. From him we learned that family is everything along with music. Unintentionally he taught us that material things don’t matter so much. He invited us back to his home where his wife (daughter, daughter in law, mother) were making pinoches. Pinoches are a delicious snack of corn tortilla, beans, lettuce, pickled onions and some kind of meat. We went back into a very lively and rudimentary kitchen made of thick sticks and a thatched roof. A turkey and chicken were looking in through the door. I thought of all the people I know who couldn’t live without a granite countertop or a certain oven. I thought, “We are so spoiled!” Bebe sang while we ate the delicious pinoches and had a special rice milk drink called horchada.
Be Proud Of Your Background
Gama was our guide at Uxmal. He was very knowledgeable about the Mayans of the area. He told us that Uxmal was probably a learning center rather than a ceremonial one like Chichen Itza because of all the cisterns that were discovered at the ruins. He knew all about the symbols that adorned the pyramids and other structures. He was very proud of his heritage and that Mayan was his first language.
Quality, Simplicity and Living Near The Land
Ignacio nicknamed “Nacho” was our guide at our favorite ruins, Palenque. He spent 10-15 minutes at the beginning of the tour giving us an education on the Mayan planting season and how it affected their lives. He made the pyramids and palace come alive for us. Nacho taught us about simplicity. He has no debt. He built his house on land that his father gave him for $2000. He was passionate about fresh food. He has a large garden so that he can eat fresh tomatoes (and other vegetables) from the land not from a can.
Follow Your Dream
Wanda and Karen and Kenn, the owners of the La Casa de Celeste Vida, are not Mayan but three Canadians, who taught us about following your dream. They had a dream of running a B and B in Mexico. We had such a relaxing time here. Over the years, they made that dream came true with perserverance, determination and knowing. We loved hearing their story.
Greet Each Other With Kindness
In Mayan there is a greeting “Lak’ech Ala K’in”. The saying means, “I am another you, and you are another me.” It’s not unlike Namaste, “The light in me honors the light in you” or the Golden Rule, “Do unto to others as they would do unto you”. We felt this respect and helpfulness wherever we went, from our waiter on Charlie’s birthday:
…to the grandson of Bebe…
As time goes on, I may forget these exact lessons but I’ll never forget how welcomed I felt. I learned to let go of what I’ve been taught in the “1st world” and appreciate what the culture of a different society has to offer. The simple things in life are the most important… family, heritage, listening, simplicity, living your dream and doing what you love!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“
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