Riviera Maya destination
The Caribbean coast of Yucatan is a popular tourist destination, not only because of its beautiful sea and beaches but also for its rich history and ancient traditions. In the ancient past, it was the Mayan trade coast and the pilgrim’s destination. It is this pilgrim tradition that ties the ancient people with modern tourists, with the same purpose on this coast. The pilgrims came here seeking health and new energy. In the same way, tourists come here today to revitalize and relax. The Travesia Sagrada Maya, the annual canoe crossing from the mainland to the island of Cozumel has become one of the most extraordinary events on this coast.
A journey of faith
So let’s start from the beginning. The pilgrims, the chosen to go on the Travesia Sagrada Maya, walked from all the Maya kingdoms in Central America to the ports of Xaman Há (today’s Playa del Carmen) and P’olé (today’s Xcaret), to cross the sea to Cozumel. The island was then home to goddess Ix Chel’s temples. Another pilgrim port was El Meco, near Cancun, from where they crossed to Isla Mujeres, which also had temples of the goddess.
The pilgrims were Priests, the chosen (men), and mature or elderly women. Children and young women were not involved. They aimed to pay homage to Ix Chel, goddess of the moon, fertility, weaving, and medicine, and to ask her for her blessing for their fertility.
Cozumel was to the Maya what Mecca is to the Muslims or Rome to the Catholics. The pilgrims came on foot as the Maya had no horses. Today’s tourists have it much easier.
Travesia Sagrada Maya
Xcaret eco-park now re-enacts the sacred journey annually, at the end of May. Therefore, hundreds of men and women have a physical strength test by swimming in the ocean to have the opportunity of being part of this journey. Thus, around 300 people, the chosen ones, train for about six months to be able to embark on the voyage, a 15-mile row in the open sea, testing their inner strength and teamwork skills. The paddling schools are in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Xel Ha, and Cozumel.
This year the chosen oarsmen and oarswomen are called Messengers of the Moon. The volunteers, from different parts of the world, receive training in navigation, first aid, and physical preparation. The journey takes up to eight hours. The canoers stay at Cozumel to rest for the journey on the next day to bring the message of the goddess back to the Port of P’olé. Finally, on their arrival, they are received with Maya sacred ceremonies and the cheers of their loved ones. The experience of a lifetime. Fancy volunteering?
The Sacred Maya Journey
Rituals, dances, and ceremonies take place in Xcaret Park at dawn on the day of the sacred journey. They are also part of the re-enactment. Experts have carefully researched to make it as authentic as possible, including the design of the canoes. The ceremony is open to the general public, so you may buy tickets online or at the Xcaret ticket booth.
If you know the rowers, they can invite you personally to the event, to bid them farewell. The press also gets access. Otherwise, if you want to witnesses this spiritual scene from ancient times, various local radio stations organize contests and events related to the journey, and you can win a ticket this way. Alternatively, you can take the ferry to Cozumel, to watch them arriving, exhausted but fulfilled, at Chankanaab Park.
Remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate … we make it happen!