My First Alux Encounter

When I first moved to Mexico, I was fascinated by all the stories about run-ins with ghosts, hauntings and mythical creatures. Being the skeptical American that I am, I brushed it off as a cultural difference for several years.

But now… I’m starting to realize that Mexico is just filled with some crazy, crazy stuff.

Long-time readers may remember the stories about the mythical Yucatan alux (pronounced “ah-LOOSH”) that friends and family had told me. The stories made me start to think, “Maybe there’s some truth to this.”

And then on New Years Eve, I’m pretty sure I saw one.

Jorge and I were riding in a 15-person van from Cancun to Chabihau for his cousin’s wedding. During the 4-hour drive along the highway, we pass through mostly jungle with a few small villages along the way.

Around 7 pm, it was already dark. We were just leaving one small Yucatan village and entering the jungle again, going slowly because of the village’s speedbumps. Up near the driver, I saw the head of a black figure standing right by the van, in the middle of the road. From the height, the shape of the head and the way it moved, I immediately thought it was a child, except it was … blacker than black? As in I couldn’t even make out features or anything, just an outline filled in with entirely black. I was unsettled and wasn’t sure why.

As we passed the thing, I turned back and saw that the figure was actually hunched over and huge. It was shaped more like a dog than a child, but at the same time the street dogs in the Yucatan aren’t giant or black (at least none that I’ve seen!) Plus… dogs just don’t move like that.

I later told Jorge and his family that I’d seen an alux, and they didn’t seem the least bit surprised.

Año Viejo: New Year’s Tradition in Yucatan

For New Years, we once again went to the fishing village of Chabihau in the state of Yucatan to visit Jorge’s family. This year there was even a wedding! Jorge’s cousin Yeni (pronounced like “Jenny”) got married to her long-time beau, Armando.

We also did some crocodile watching out on Chabihau's salt lagoon

I’d heard before about a special tradition in the Yucatan known as “Año Viejo” (“Old Year”), but this year was the first time I got to see it. On our ride from Cancun to Chabihau, we passed through several villages that had dummies set out by the front gate of the homes. These dummies are known as “Años Viejos“, and they’re filled with rockets and fireworks.

Read that again… rockets and fireworks.

On December 31, the Año Viejo dummies are set out by the front door, and at midnight they’re ignited in the street to represent the end of the “Old Year”. Make sure to keep your distance! It can get pretty loud.

An "Año Viejo" in the town of Cansahcab, Yucatan

From what I could gather from Jorge’s family, it seems Año Viejo is a popular tradition throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as in the state of Veracruz.

Since I was at the wedding at midnight, I didn’t get to see the Año Viejo lit up this year, even though we did have some regular fireworks and sparklers. Oh well, there’s always next year!

What did you do for New Year’s?

Yucatan’s Fishing Villages Are Making Money

Set on the Gulf of Mexico, Yucatan’s northern coast is filled with small towns and fishing villages, each with their own charm and natural beauty. In this region, you’ll find brightly-colored salt lagoons, refreshing cenotes, palm tree forests, small Mayan ruins, tiny restaurants serving freshly caught seafood, relaxing beaches and even migrating herds of flamingos in the summertime. Several of Mexico’s most popular celebrities have even built luxurious homes in this secluded and tranquil area.

The local villages are home to hard-working fishermen as well as vacation homes owned mostly by tourists from the nearby colonial city of Merida. In the past couple of years, however, this breathtaking area has fallen under the eye of home buyers and tourists from other parts of Mexico and the world.

The town of San Crisanto has begun to take full advantage of its stunning natural attractions, opening a new tourist center where guests can explore the salt lagoon and purchase tickets for a fascinating mangrove and cenote tour.

San Crisanto's new tourist center

Dzonot Tzik cenote in San Crisanto

In the neighboring village of Chabihau, foreign travelers have begun to use local builders to construct immense vacation homes right by the beach, drawn to the area by the charming, friendly and quiet atmosphere. These homes also help to create permanent jobs, as most owners hire locals from Chabihau as caretakers for the property while they’re gone.

This beautiful compound-style home has been recently built, with several buildings set around a sand-filled courtyard.

A new beachside vacation home under construction

This multi-level beach home caught my eye, with several open-air terraces, palapas and pergolas.

As a frequent visitor to this area, I’m excited to see that others are finally beginning to discover it and help the economy grow. The Gulf coast of the state of Yucatan is filled with fascinating attractions that the locals are thrilled to share with anyone passing through.

Where would you build your dream vacation home?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Father's Day in Chabihau

**Note: If I normally follow you and I haven’t commented on your blog in a few weeks, it’s because about 1/3 of the blogs I follow have been strangely blocked on this computer. Trying to figure out what’s going on…**

Ok, I am a horrible blogger! But it’s been a pretty busy month, which is awesome. I still haven’t shared my photos from my trip to Chabihau, Yucatan with you, and that was almost TWO WEEKS AGO. For shame. We went to the towns of Chabihau and Yobain for Father’s Day to visit Jorge’s family, and it was relaxing as usual!

The best tamales I ever had!

Jorge in his natural habitat… in front of the table.

Happy dogs!

flamingos 🙂 That's as close as they get, though.

Arrow!

"chilpachole de langosta" with lobster Jorge's uncle caught that morning... HUGE!!

A new beach house in Chabihau... I'm going to steal it.

Cenote Tour in San Crisanto

I mentioned on Tuesday that during our trip to Chabihau, Yucatan, we stopped by the neighboring town of San Crisanto for a cenote tour.

The tour costs $40 pesos (about $3 USD) and lasts an hour and a half, taking you on a small boat through the mangrove jungle until you reach the beautiful cenote.

Jorge, Mike and Mau are ready for a nature tour with their carton of "chelas"

Since the water is only a few inches deep and they want to protect the area, they use motorless boats steered by a local, gondola-style

"Navajuela" (which roughly translates to "razorleaf") is a regional plant that looks harmless, but if you touch it, the sharp leaves will cut you. Jorge can attest that this is true from previous experience haha

There were tons of these trees right by the water. They had branches that grew downwards into the water.

The guides waiting for their groups at the cenote

This hole in the bottom of the cenote is where it connects to the underground river system of the Yucatan Peninsula.

San Crisanto has done a lot over the past few years to bring in tourism while still maintaining its natural beauty.

For my previous post on our day exploring San Crisanto, check it out here.

San Crisanto

We wanted to do something special to celebrate our civil wedding, so we decided to take a bunch of our Cancun friends to one of our favorite places … Chabihau. Set on the coast of the state of Yucatan (about 40 minutes north of Merida), this fishing village is where Jorge’s mom grew up and where a lot of his family still lives.

Here are some links to my previous posts on Chabihau:

Yucatan Seafood on New Years

Yucatan Seafood: Ceviche de Chivitas

Chabihau Beach at Sunset

Flamingo Photo Hunt

This time around we did more touristy stuff, with a cenote tour and some exploring. I’ve already posted about Chabihau tons of times here, so today I’ll focus on our trips to the neighboring village of San Crisanto.

San Crisanto has been focusing on tourism for the past few years. They have some interesting tours, beautiful salinas (salt lagoons) that change color with the season, dramatic beaches, addictive coconut pudding, and friendly locals.

This weekend the salina was bright orange

On Sunday we did a cenote tour in San Crisanto, but since that merits its own post, I’ll wait until later this week.

Yucatan Folklore Part 4

I promised you a story about how Yucatan’s mystical aluxes are known for getting even. Here, it’s commonly known that you NEVER, EVER make fun of or insult aluxes.

Maria, a close friend of mine, is really into bike riding. From time to time, she’ll go biking up north towards Isla Blanca with her bike group. This is a fairly undeveloped area north of Cancun, and the roads are lined with jungle.

On one particular trip, Maria had stopped to eat an apple, then she threw the apple core into the jungle and yelled, “Take that, aluxes!!”

Big mistake.

She used to never have any problems riding there. But now, every time she drives along that stretch of road towards Isla Blanca, her tires go flat 3 times.

Yucatan Folklore Part 3

Another alux story from the town of Yobain!

To read my previous stories on Yucatan’s mystical pranksters, the aluxes, check out the following:

Yucatan Folklore Part 1

Yucatan Folklore Part 2

Uncle Mike told us another story about an alux encounter from when he was a kid. Mike was walking through Yobain at night with his older brother, Eduardo. Mike looked behind him, and suddenly saw two bright red eyes following them down the road. He told Eduardo, who replied “Don’t look at it, just keep walking.” They got home quickly, and once they were inside the house, Eduardo said “I can’t believe that thing was following me again.”

To answer some questions from previous posts, aluxes aren’t considered violent or evil. They love playing tricks on people, and if you deny their existence or mock them they will get even with you! (I actually have a pretty good story about aluxes getting even… ya’ll will read it next week!)

Yucatan Folklore Part 2

For those of you just joining in, this week I’m writing about aluxes, a mystical creature that haunts the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula. Many of Jorge’s family members live in a small town in the Yucatan called Yobain, and on New Years Eve they told me about some of their run-ins with the supernatural.

Last summer, my brothers-in-law (Darwin and Jair) were staying the night at Uncle Mike’s house in Yobain. They were hanging out one evening with cousin Isis  by the window.

Isis saw something moving on the neighbor’s roof. She pointed it out to Darwin and Jair. They climbed out onto the 2nd floor patio to get a better look. By then, it had crossed the street to a thatched roof home across from the house. Isis described this “alux” as being about 3 feet tall, sometimes moving on all fours and sometimes moving on two legs. It had “eyes that burned red like coals” and the only way she could describe it’s body was as a white, glowing shadow.

The three of them got so scared, that they went back inside and closed all the curtains.

Street in front of Uncle Mike's house (the yellow wall on the right is their house, and you can see the thatched roof home on the left) Sorry about the blurriness.

Yucatan Folklore Part 1

On New Years Eve, we went to Jorge’s Uncle Mike’s house for a gift exchange with his dad’s side of the family.

As I’ve mentioned before, most of Jorge’s dad’s family lives in a small town in the state of Yucatan called Yobain. This little town is filled with lush jungle vegetation, locals riding their bikes, people chatting with neighbors on doorsteps, and beautiful white-washed stone walls around many of the houses.

The Yucatan Peninsula is filled with incredible stories and superstitions handed down by the Mayan culture, and the town of Yobain is no exception.

After all the gifts were handed out, I sat around with Jorge, his father (also named Jorge), his Uncle Mike, Uncle Tony, Aunt Elsy and cousins Isis, Yaresbi and Damaris. Uncle Mike, one of the youngest in the family, spent the next hour telling us about some of the run-ins their family has had with Yucatan’s spirits, and I found myself with chills running down my spine.

This week, I’ll be telling you several of the stories Uncle Mike told us that night.

First of all, you should probably know a little more about the culture. The jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula are believed to be inhabited by “aluxes” (The “x” is pronounced like an “sh”… “a-loo-shes”). You’ll hear different stories about their appearance or where they came from, but everyone agrees that they have a child-like mentality. They love pranks, and will quickly get even with you if you insult them.

The first story took place years ago when brothers Mike, Jorge and Tony were walking through the streets of Yobain at night. Back when they were kids, this small town had no electricity and the streets were dark. They were walking along when they heard movement among some nearby trees. Startled, Tony calmed his brothers by saying it was probably just some other kids.

The three brothers continued walking until they reached the town’s central plaza. Here, they heard noises behind them but didn’t see anything, and began to feel frightened. Suddenly, Jorge was lifted up into the air by both arms by some invisible force, and the brothers could hear laughter. When Jorge reached a nearby corner, an older gentleman stepped out of his home. The invisible forces dropped Jorge back to the ground and left.

After hearing this story, I asked my father-in-law if he remembered this happening to him. He said that yes, he did.

More alux stories to come this week!