Mahahual on HGTV!

For those of you who don’t know and want to get a better look at our little town, or for those who have been here and want a little reminder of the jewel that is Mahahual, our town was featured on and episode of HGTV’s Mexico Life! recently.

https://www.hgtv.com/shows/mexico-life/episodes/angling-toward-mahahual

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The lovely young couple, Brandon and Nia Lee, are a couple of expat locals who fell in love with Mahahual, bought a house, remodeled and now rent two different beautiful spaces on the property to vacationers, the main part of the house for families, and the villa for couples. They take a lot of pride in their property and have really created a unique and special place to stay. The remodel was only about halfway done when the show came through so to really see the place you can check out their airbnb links here…

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/18895282?s=51

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https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19641383?s=51

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Check out the episode and if you are looking for a place to stay on your next Mahahual vacation, give them a shout! They would be happy to have you!1524247158048

Chacchoben Ruins Tour with Mayan Trips

Yesterday was a sleepy Sunday in Mahahual. The spring breeze was lightly blowing, sending up dust from the beach sand that collects in town and gives a light sugary coat to everything during the dry season. My wife and I headed out to a late morning coffee, sipping slowly and chatting easily with a few locals about how their week had gone. We usually have plenty to do surprisingly, but on this particular Sunday we really didn’t have anything on the agenda and the beach was out of the question because we had gone diving the day before and were already sun-kissed to the brink of a burn.

As we meandered lazily back towards our house trying to figure out how to spend our day we ran into a good friend of ours, Carlos, who runs a tour company, Mayan Trips, at the local corner store. He seemed awfully preoccupied with something, given the present vibe of the town, so we asked him what was going on. He told us the cruise ship for the day had just docked and he was stocking the supplies for his tour to the Chacchoben Ruins. Then he just casually asked, “do you want to go?”. We looked at each other and thought why not? Our Sunday was set. We were to meet the van on the corner in 40 minutes.

The comfy white van pulled up just at the moment that we arrived to the corner and when the door slid open and the cool air conditioner hit us it was the perfect antithesis to the blazing sun. We loaded in and spoke to two adventurous older women, who were the only other passengers that day, and the friendly guide. We were on our way.

The ruins rest about 50 minutes from town and on the way the guide spoke to the curious tourists about local flora, fauna, customs, income, you name it. he was a wealth of information and happy to do it. We sat back and enjoyed the ride and AC while they chatted. We had both been to the ruins before with some friends of ours but were unable to really take advantage of the experience because of a heavy stomach bug I had been fighting that left me too weak to walk far without stopping, let alone climb, so the excitement was building to get another crack at it and have a guide to fill us in on the goodies.

When we arrived the guide offered us waters from the icy cooler they had brought for the passengers and showed us to the gate. If you have never been, the ruins are very impressive. We have visited various ruins around the peninsula and other parts of Mexico and something about Chacchoben is very special. It hasn’t been packed like other ruins we have visited such as Tulum and Chichen Itza either time we have visited and a lot of the tall trees and jungle vegetation remain intact, giving you a nice shady canopy to protect you from the sun. It also somehow makes the experience feel more authentic when everything isn’t clear cut. You feel like you are really seeing the Mayan world as it was.

Entering the park and taking the nice trail the first thing you come to is a huge pyramid known as Templo 24. Not a lot is known about Chacchoben but experts date the settlement of the area to around 200AD and most of the major structures to around 700AD.

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Off to the right there is a little trail that leads to a small area of ruins that isn’t on the maps of the park. Being ever curious, I decided to Indiana Jones my way down the trail to see what was at the end and even though these ruins aren’t on the map and aren’t big compared to the others, something about the juxtaposition of them against the back ground of the surrounding ranch was sublime. It is a beautiful area and I enjoyed this section just as much as any other. Ask your Mayan Trips guide about it and if he has time he may take you!

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Getting back and course and traveling down the trail you pass through “Plaza B” where you get a nice view of the other side of Templo 24. Then you enter the area known as “Las Vasijas”. This is the area where most of the trading and commerce of the site was done. It is a long stretch of sunken earth bordered on both sides by steps that definitely make it seem like a good place to bargain shop.

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After leaving Las Vasijas and continuing on the trail you come to the side of a platform that is easily two stories high. You just get the feeling that it is holding something truly special on top. Once you come all the way around to the front you can see the only stelae that remains from Chacchoben sitting peacefully in front of the main staircase that takes you up to the “gran basamento” where the other two pyramids sit.

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As you arrive to the summit and get a glimpse at the majesty of “Templo 1” you suddenly forget about your profuse sweat and lack of breath. The beauty of this main platform and remoteness of the location make you feel like you have stepped through time and the owners are just out hunting and will be back soon.

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After wondering around the Gran Basamento for 30 minutes or so it was time to head back to the van. The tour is only about 4-5 hrs round trip so it is perfect for a cruise excursion. You can take more time if you are staying in Mahahual and have your own car but then you miss out on the info that the guide has to give.

There are some photos and information that I have purposefully left out of the article so I wouldn’t spoil your dinner if you ever decide to go. With the internet the way it is I try as often as I can to leave some things to wonder before that artform is lost to humanity! Taking the trip to these ruins is definitely worth your time and money and Mayan Trips was a great tour group to go with. For bookings you can e-mail mayantrips@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Semana Santa in Mahahual Through the Eyes of the Locals

Semana Santa is a very important holiday in Latin America and especially Mexico.  Two weeks of vacation for play and religious reflection fall on the population every year, touching some differently than others. For popular vacation spots like Mahahual, the thought of Semana Santa brings a mixed bag of emotions for the residents as tourists flood our tiny town bringing everything that comes with the influx, good and bad.

We asked locals for their first thoughts when we mention Semana Santa in Costa Maya to take the temperature of various citizens and got some great responses…

“About 20 years ago I was chatting with a lady who has lived here more than 20 years. She told me that during Semana Santa she goes back to her home town because the little devils descend on Mahahual and put it ‘patas arriba’ ” (on its head)

“People use Semana Santa as a excuse to drink and party when you really should be abstaining from eating meat and stuff. Its about the death and resurrection of Jesus but people just get drunk haha”

“Traditions, parties and communion. It’s a time for reflecting on our faith through history”

“For me in Mahahual it means a lot of work! But I come from a place where there is a lot of wonderful tradition around the holiday so it is still special”

“I think that Semana Santa is a time for getting out of your daily routine, for taking a break from work, being with your family and doing what you enjoy the most…but for us who work in tourism it means more work!”

“Cerveza, fried fish and more!”

“Semana Santa in Mahahual means that the girls from Chetumal come to lose their virginity!”

“Semana Santa is a very important holiday in Mexico to celebrate your faith with your friends and family. It’s a serious holiday but we also use the time to have parties and enjoy ourselves.”

“Desmadre” (chaos)

“Semana Santa in Mahahual: traffic, trash, noise and drunks. That’s why I leave!”

“A little bit of celebrating, a lot of work, then the calm after the storm”

So there you have it, straight from the local’s mouths. It is a mixed bag of emotions here the same way you would expect it to be in any vacation town. When you live in paradise and the rest of the world has time off, they are coming to you!

Carnaval Costa Maya Mahahual 2018 Review

It has come and gone like a flash. The pueblito has returned to its quiet and sleepy state from the figurative and literal hangover from this past weekend’s Carnaval activities. The only sounds are the blowing of the seasonal breeze through the trees and songs of the tropical Great Kiskadee and Yucatan Jay birds pirched in them. It was a great weekend of parades, dancing and entertainment in that familiar imperfect Mahahual style.

The events kicked off Friday with a parade leaving from our neighborhood, casitas, scheduled for 6:30pm, which started promptly at 7:30pm in typical caribbean fashion, and traveling down the malecon with music and candy for the kids, ending up in “the dome”. As residents of casitas we thought it would be nice to grab our bikes and get there early to make sure we had a good spot for the show. That turned out to be silly of us because the parade only left from casitas, it wasn’t for casitas, as evidenced by the main float cruising by at mach 30 without a single wave or candy thrown our way.

The events calendar said the parade started in casitas so ourselves and a few flabbergasted others were left eating dust and sucking exhaust fumes as the floats whizzed by. If you are coming next year, be aware of that fact. Things don’t always make sense so plan for other eventualities!

After regrouping we headed down to the dome to check out the other events before the music started. There was a good sized crowd in good participatory spirits compared to last year at the light house when only a few hundred showed up and had all of the energy of a crowd at an international insomnia convention. The kings and queens were announced, the local dance troupe put on a show, the vendors fired up the tacos and marquesitas and Carnaval was officially under way for 2018!

The kids took over the stage with their care-free and cutting edge dance moves and once the Dos Equis took hold, everybody else was moving too. Lights flashed, cans emptied and tails shook until the music stopped around 3am.

Saturday’s activities were published only on the local facebook page in plenty of time for people to plan their day…late Saturday morning.  So if you were like me and don’t live on facebook, you had no idea there was another parade and round of activities before the music started again, despite my best efforts to try and find out what the schedule of events for the weekend was…flamboozled twice by the parade!

We made it down to the dome Saturday expecting a smaller crowd with a little less enthusiasm but what we found was a sea of little brown locals, dancing and smiling, peppered with hairy white tourists and expats who were just as happy to be there. The energy was thick and the night was quality once again. The kids ruled the stage and the lights flashed into the wee hours.

Overall Carnaval in Mahahual in 2018 was a success. We might be a small community but we really felt big this past weekend. If the improvements from 2017 to 2018 are any indication of the trend for the future, I would say don’t risk missing Carnaval 2019! Just make sure you don’t wait for the parade in casitas!

 

 

 

 

Carnaval Schedule of Events in Mahahual Costa Maya 2018

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Here we go guys as promised! For those gringos without the lingo I will translate for you here so you know what is going on!

Friday February 16 starting at 7:00pm in the Dome!

Kings and Queens of Carnaval 2018 Mahahual

7:00pm – Welcome and Presentation of Hosts

7:05pm – Inauguration by the Municipal President of Othon P. Blanco, Ing Luis Torres Llanes

Coronation Ceremony, Queen of Inclusion, Queen of Pro-Diversity, Emperors and Kings of Carnaval

7:30pm – Carnaval Antics

9:00pm – Presentation of Troupes

10:00pm – (Musical Acts) Los Huiros de Cozumel, Nohoch Purux y Pompi, and the best DJ in the Mexican Caribbean, Disco Macs

 

So there you have it! Looks like this year we are going to be celebrating in the dome instead of under the lighthouse. Stay tuned for updates from the festivities!