A Mayan Experience in Eastern Mexico
Chi Much (Mayan for mouth of the frog) is a small Mayan Village on the Yucatan Peninsula in eastern Mexico. In order for Alltournative Expeditions to receive visitation rights for Chi Much it had to negotiate with the village elders. The deal was that the company would hire locals for an hourly rate and also distribute a percentage of profits back into the village. The villagers, however, would have to stop hunting (for the safety of the tourists) in the forest where they supplemented their subsistence lifestyle. This agreement enabled tourists for the first time to visit sites that are religiously significant to the Mayans.
The village of Chi Much is named after the entrance to a cave whose slim opening resembles a frog’s mouth. A reverse descent on a makeshift wooden staircase opens up into a dimly lit cave of moderate proportions where early Mayan performed sacrifices. We then turned to the east, and with the flick of a switch the cave suddenly bore the sense of the holy wonderment that the earliest Mayans gazed upon with awe.
Before us, curved like the half moon, was a pool of water so clear, so perfect, that ancient stalagmites could be seen some 20 or 30 feet below the water’s surface. In an effort to replicate ancient traditions each of us ritually jumped into the pool. There we swam and floated in the warm waters imagining those who might have done the same hundreds of years before our time.
Prior to leaving this mystical place we were blessed by a Mayan holy man. On our walk out we were shown two trees which only grow together. Within one tree seeps a poison of immense lethal power, deadly to both animals and humans alike. Within the other tree is the only known antidote.
The Yucatan is dotted by thousands of cenotes (sink holes) some filled with water from the huge underground water system that literally flows across the peninsula. Some appear as gigantic open air “caves” hidden from view until one is virtually on the edge. Within the village is the Cenote de la Vida, a place of immense historical and religious value to the Mayans.
We descended into the cenote by modern abseiling apparatus and then traversed the cenote by “flying fox” (a pulley attached to a wire cable). We wandered through the rough stone lanes that were the streets of Chi Much.
During the lunch break of the village school, we watched girls play a fun game of volleyball. However it was the throng of children, all boys, who were mercilessly chasing a soccer ball that drew me into the very essence of what life in Chi Much was like.
I left Chi Much with some envy. As westerners we treat a third world (even in the name) like the sorry relation we have to educate and foster so that its people may fall into line within our own existence. After my Chi Much experience I don’t know that it would be so bad to live there and play some soccer for a while.
The Coba, Chi Much mayan encounter is facilitated by Altournative Expeditions, www.alltournative.com, through any travel agency on the Yukatan Peninsula.
The excursion includes all equipment, guides, and a regional lunch with beverages. A maximum of ten people are allowed per tour, so reservations are essential.