Xcaret

This weekend, I made the quick trip from Cancun to Playa del Carmen with Jorge’s family to visit one of my favorite places in the world: Xcaret.

Xcaret is an immense ecopark filled with unbelieveable attractions. I’ve been there 4 or 5 times already, and I still haven’t seen everything! The park has Mayan ruins, an underground river, a Mayan village, an hacienda, greenhouses, a huge butterfly pavilion (my favorite part), stunning beaches, dolphins, jaguars, sharks, a lookout tower, amazing restaurants, an aquarium… and the list goes on. All this is surrounded by lush jungle and winding paths, making you feel as if you’ve stepped into another world.

This park isn’t just about nature, though. It’s about Mexico. Combining Mexican culture, Mayan roots and the stunning jungle setting of the Riviera Maya, Xcaret is heaven on Earth. (Except for the snake that slithered across my foot at the entrance… sent that thing flying with a high kick and a scream!)

We started the day wandering around the hacienda near the entrance, with beautiful courtyards and unique colonial artwork, followed by amazing views of the Riviera Maya from the lookout tower. Then, we stopped by the orchid greenhouse (WOW) and took a turn on a riverboat.

A few of us jumped into the underground river, where we swam through caves and vine-covered cliffs, exiting into a beautiful enclosed jungle filled with vibrant butterflies. We walked past jaguars, tapirs and monkeys on our way to explore some Mayan ruins, then stopped by Xcaret’s large aquarium.

After a quick dip in the Caribbean Sea in one of the park’s crystal clear inlets, the family grabbed a quick dinner and headed to Xcaret’s famous show. Mayan warriors greeted us along the fire-lit path to the immense theater, where we sat back and watched the Mayan ball game, Papantla flyers and traditional dances from all over Mexico.

The evening ended with the show’s final song, “Mexico en la Piel” (Mexico In Your Skin), which brings tears to my eyes every. single. time.

Exhausted, I took a little cat nap on the car ride back to Cancun, thinking how much I’m dying to go back already.

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You can follow Xcaret on Twitter via @XcaretPark

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.

Tarantula Crossing (or "Why I Don’t Go Into the Jungle")

So on our trip to La Ruta de los Cenotes this weekend, I mentioned that you can often see Yucatan animals crossing the road. On our way back from Cenote Lucero Verde, we stopped when we saw this bad boy crawling out of the jungle:

Posted in full size so you can take in every hairy detail

I asked my father-in-law if I could get out and take a picture because… well, because I’m a blogger and that’s what we do. I would have put my hand side-by-side for a size comparison, but I’m not suicidal. (Just trust me when I say it was roughly the size of my face.)

I’ve identified it as a Yucatan Rust Rump Tarantula.

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.