CORRESPONDENCE FROM MEXICORiviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

Emilia Olescu
English Section / 23 octombrie 2023

Riviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

Versiunea în limba română

Bordered to the north by the United States and to the south by Belize and Guatemala, Mexico - the northernmost country in Latin America - is becoming increasingly interesting for European tourists due to its culture, history, beaches, and archaeological sites.

I suspect, from personal experience, that any tourist traveling to Mexico for the first time may set off with a slight heartache, thinking about both the distance they have to cover and the doubts about the safety this country offers. Well, once you arrive there, day by day, you become more relaxed, more confident, and more satisfied with the vacation you have chosen, ultimately leaving Mexico only with the promise that you will return.

Riviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

In short, although there are a few areas where it is not recommended to go, Mexico offers a number of very peaceful tourist areas where tourists are perfectly safe and can enjoy beaches, water, high-quality services, friendly people, and the history and culture of the place.

In the northern part of the country, Mexicans have roots in Aztec culture, while those in the south originate from the Mayan civilization. There are still many villages where residents live according to the rules of their ancestors, but it must be noted that in every village, there is water, gas, and electricity, and the country is crisscrossed by many modern roads and highways. Rich in natural resources and ranking first in the world among silver producers, Mexico exports oil, silver, avocados, lemons, tequila, and more.

Arriving in this colorful world where aromas and sounds intertwine, you discover a multitude of fruits, exotic birds, and animals in an extensive area where the sea and the ocean embrace the jungle.

Mexico is a major attraction for the world's wealthy and is renowned for perfect weddings and honeymoons enjoyed by young lovers.

One of the most beautiful and renowned tourist areas is the Yucatan Peninsula, with the Riviera Maya - stretching along the Caribbean coast in the state of Quintana Roo - where temperatures are high all year round. There are two distinct seasons - the wet and the dry season. The dry season lasts from November to April, with March and April being the driest months. The wet season occurs from May to October and is much hotter than the dry season.

Mexicans are warm and welcoming people who know how to live their lives - they go out in the city, dance passionately, sing from the heart, eat spicy food, and especially drink tequila, their traditional beverage.

So, the jungle, the flora and fauna, the archaeological sites, the fine white sandy beaches, the turquoise waters with underwater life, the impressive sunrises and sunsets, as well as the stunning rainbows that bridge the jungle to the sea, culinary specialties, and traditional music, all come together to form a perfect puzzle that makes you feel in love regardless of your age.

Tulum - the Pearl of the Riviera Maya

The Pearl of the Riviera Maya, one of the most popular destinations in the region, the city of Tulum is renowned for its archaeological area, sunny beaches, numerous souvenir shops, and treehouse rentals. With a population of 800,000 who speak Mayan, Tulum is home to descendants of the Mayans who do not speak Spanish.

The only Maya site on the seashore, Tulum is adjacent to the city of the same name and is significant because it was a hub for trade between the northern and southern regions. Initially, the city was surrounded on three sides by walls, with one side bordering the water. The setting is spectacular as it is perched on a cliff from which you can see the Caribbean Sea, with its clear and brilliantly turquoise waters.

The ruins of Tulum are particularly impressive in the way they blend with the surrounding vegetation, situated at the edge of the Mexican jungle.

Considered the "5th Avenue" of Tulum, Playa del Carmen is the most renowned promenade area in the city, where various restaurants, malls, and souvenir shops create the perfect setting for shopping enthusiasts and evening strolls.

The entire area is designated a natural park, with resort hotels nestled right in the heart of the tropical vegetation, allowing tourists to admire various types of animals and birds in their natural habitat.

Merida - The City Where History, Legends, and Romantic Ambiance Coexist

Riviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

The capital of the state of Yucatan and the tenth oldest city in the country, Merida is one of the most tranquil Mexican settlements, where history, legends, and a romantic atmosphere coexist. The city offers something for every tourist, regardless of their preferences. At night, it is adorned with multicolored lights, and horse-drawn carriages travel along the wide boulevards, stopping in front of restaurants or in parks to pick up or drop off tourists. It's not unusual to encounter a musician on a street corner or in front of city buildings, or even witness a folkloric performance or dozens of people dancing freely to music that echoes throughout the area. In Merida, I saw, for the first time, the famous round "lovers' chairs," built in pairs, made of white-painted concrete, placed in a position where the two occupants face each other.

The most representative symbol of the city of Merida is the San Ildefonso Cathedral, built in a specific Spanish Renaissance style. The most important of the seven lateral chapels is the Capilla del Cristo de las Ampollas. It is said that in the year 1500, a seven-meter-high wooden statuette of Jesus was carved. According to available information, the carving used the trunk of a tree struck by lightning. Legend has it that flames emerged from it, yet it was not charred, leading locals to believe that the tree had miraculous powers. Their belief was reinforced when the church where the statue was placed caught fire, and only this sculpture survived, being moved to the cathedral in 1654. Today, however, a copy of the original is in the Merida cathedral, as the original fell into the hands of revolutionary forces in 1915 who devastated the cathedral.

Chichen Itza - One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World

Riviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

Chichen Itza, a colossal pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula, has been designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. At the heart of the site stands the Pyramid of Kukulkan. This famous temple was constructed in the 12th century AD for the Itza Mayans. The pyramid is a temple erected in honor of the feathered serpent god Kukulkan. It features 91 steps on each of its four sides, plus one at the top, totaling 365 steps (coinciding with the number of days in the Gregorian calendar). The structure also boasts sculptures of feathered serpents descending on the northern balustrade sides. During the late afternoons of the spring and autumn equinoxes, it is said that the sun strikes the northwest corner of the pyramid, casting a series of triangular shadows, creating the illusion of a feathered serpent "crawling" down the pyramid to the serpent head carved at its base.

The pyramid has such excellent acoustics that if you clap your hands, even without being in its immediate vicinity, you can hear the sound of a bird called the Quetzal echoing from its summit.

Inside the pyramid, there are two smaller pyramids, and beneath it, there is a cenote (an underground water sinkhole) with a depth of over 80 meters and a diameter of 50-60 meters. In times of drought, precious objects and even people were thrown into the Cenote Sagrado as offerings to the Rain God Chac. Explorers have found dozens of human skeletons, mostly men and children, and thousands of artifacts made of ceramics, stone, gold, copper, resin, and jade.

Within the site is also the Temple of the Thousand Columns, believed to have supported a roof and to have been primarily used to host an indoor market or important gatherings.

Among other ruins, to the left of the main pyramid, you'll find the famous Mayan ball court (Gran Juego de Pelota), the largest in Mesoamerica. The court stretches 168 meters in length and 70 meters in width, and the game involved striking a five-kilogram rubber ball through stone rings situated at a significant height using only the elbow, knee, or hip. The ball, representing the sun, was not allowed to touch the ground to maintain its symbolic course. Those who lost were decapitated at the end of the game, which had ritual significance. This game has a history of over 3,500 years, making it the earliest organized sport in history. Chichen Itza, which means "at the mouth of the well of the Itza," was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1988.

The Largest Underground Water Network in the World with 2,000 Cenotes

Riviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

The Riviera Maya is a true paradise of cenotes - circular underground water bodies with diverse flora and fauna. In Yucatan, you can find the largest underground water network in the world, comprising over 2,000 cenotes. One of the most famous cenotes is IK KIL, located near Chichen Itza. It reaches a depth of 40 meters and is connected to other cenotes. Many of those who visit Chichen Itza come to cool off in the IK KIL cenotes.

Tequila and Salted Caramel Churros - The Taste of Valladolid

Valladolid, a colonial city named after its Spanish namesake, was founded by Francisco de Montejo in 1543 and is the second city in the state of Yucatan built by the Spaniards after the capital, Merida. Weaving together historical, natural, and cultural treasures, this city left an impression on me, not only for the joy of people dancing in the park to folk rhythms in traditional costumes but also for the unique taste of "los churros rellenos" (churros filled with chocolate, salted caramel, or vanilla). In the Valladolid area, you can also enjoy tequila tasting directly at the distillery, where there is a traditional Mexican agave plantation used to make this spirit.

Cancun - "Mexico's Las Vegas"

Riviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

Dubbed as "Mexico's Las Vegas," Cancun's primary attractions are its clubs and casinos, high-end hotels, and upscale restaurants. For those who love the nightlife, Cancun's hotel zone is exactly what they're looking for. Of course, Cancun is not short on silver-sand beaches, topaz waters, lush jungle, and exotic wildlife. Cancun combines the modern amenities of entertainment-focused resorts with the beauty of a tropical island. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, offering a variety of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to all-inclusive resorts.

From Tulum to Cancun, the Riviera Maya offers opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, and visiting theme parks. My article presents only a few places I personally experienced during a limited press trip organized by the Eturia travel agency, but Mexico offers many more opportunities for fun and relaxation.

A Culinary Journey in Mexico, with the Lady of Yucatecan Cuisine

Riviera Maya - an attraction for the world's wealthy and young lovers

Mexican cuisine is not to be ignored. In addition to the plethora of restaurants with Italian, Asian, Brazilian, and other cuisines that offer numerous culinary experiences, once you're in Mexico, you mustn't ignore Mexican specialties. These involve, in addition to a wide range of meat dishes, a wide variety of sauces, many of them spicy and very spicy.

In Mexico, there are over 500 types of chili peppers, some spicier and some milder, but the only chili pepper with a designation of origin is "el chilli habanero," as explained to us by Mrs. Mirian Peraza, one of the most renowned Mexican chefs. At the age of 69, Miriam Peraza has been cooking for as long as she can remember and developed her love for traditional Yucatecan cuisine from her mother and grandmother. Known throughout Mexico for her exquisite dishes, she gained international fame after a team from Netflix invited her to one of its shows to present the dish that had repeatedly impressed the producers when they came to eat at Manjar Blanco, Mrs. Miriam Peraza's restaurant. So, "Tacos de Cochinita" went global, becoming the star of the Netflix show.

Miriam Peraza has five sons, and her fourth son studied gastronomy, helping his mother open this restaurant 12 years ago, so she wouldn't have to cook only in her own kitchen.

Known as Donna Miriam, she is well-versed in over 430 traditional Yucatecan dishes, primarily using rabbit, pork, turkey, but not limited to these meats, along with corn, fruits specific to the region, and, of course, traditional sauces. Her flagship dish is "Cochinita Pibil," a dish made from pork, various regional spices, and orange, marinated for two hours and then slow-cooked for 12 hours underground. In fact, "pibil" means "under the ground."

Donna Miriam says that cooking is her life, and without the pleasure of cooking, she would become ill: "When I opened Manjar Blanco, my goal was for many people to find out about this restaurant. You can't imagine the volume of invitations I received to participate in various gastronomic events. I organized the Meeting of Yucatan Chefs in 2016-2017, and the press found out about me. They knew that I worked in traditional cuisine, and I received many invitations to cook throughout Mexico for tourists. It was a very long journey, 12 years without stopping.

Cooking is my life! Everything you see on the plate, I go buy it. I go to the store, buy the tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, and then I feel alive. Many ask me why I work so much. I need to work because it makes me feel alive, useful; it excites me like the first day. If I lose the joy of cooking, then I think I will get sick."

In 2010, Mexican cuisine was declared by UNESCO as the best cuisine in the world.

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