After spending 5 glorious days soaking up the sun, we thought it was time to explore some Mexican culture in the surrounding area. We rented a car and it came with a map in the glove compartment. ‘Hey’ I thought, ‘No matter how many left turns we make today, we shouldn’t get lost.’
Five minutes from our Playa Azul Cabana we joined the main highway and turned left and set off towards Felipe Carrillo Puerto, a bustling little town further inland and the gateway to the little towns in the heart of Mexico.
Seeing as we were on a mission to learn about the local culture, we turned on the radio and found some energetic Mexican music.
After making a right turn to the west from Felipe Carillo we eventually approached one little town after another, and at the entrance of each one, we were warned to slow down by the ‘topes’ – speed bump signs. Some of these innocent-looking bumps actually have the capability of dismantling your rental car’s transmission from its lodging if you hit them too hard and fast.
The main highways intentionally lead the traffic into the heart of each little Mayan town so you won’t miss anything. Once there, you will find many long lights or stop signs giving the tourists opportunities to park and enter the little shops in the ‘zocolo’ – town square. The zocolo is filled with people of all ages. The elderly are usually found sitting on one of the many park benches discussing various important topics – on this weekend the topic was the up-coming Federal election. As I overheard some of these debates, I began to understand and appreciate the Mayans more and more. The discussions were carried on with utmost respect for one another. No one tried to speak louder than the other or cut them off. They allowed one another the time to finish their thoughts without interruption.
The ladies, young and old, wear white ankle-length dresses that are decorated with flowery lace embroidery. The men wear the customary white long sleeve pullover with white full-length pants, topped with wide-brimmed white cowboy hats to shade the sun.
The ‘trabajadores’ – laborers – work outside all day. The ladies wash clothes by hand and hang them on clothes lines strung from the many decorative trees. They cook outside as their homes are hotter than the oven itself. There are open fires in every yard. The smell of smoke and ‘asado’ grilled chicken hangs in the air as we stroll through the less-travelled dirt roads. Kids are playing soccer and don’t quit until their parents call them to eat. The men, sitting on tree stumps, eagerly wait with plates in hand.
Every yard has chickens and turkeys of all sizes. Some newly-hatched are caged for their own protection.
Even with the heat of the day, the Mariachi bands regale the streets in elegant suits covered in tasseled buttons and fringes. The music is joyous and loud.
Our camera is full of photos and our stomachs with ‘lemonada’ – lemonade – as we return to our Playa Azul Cabana, we both feel fulfilled with the day’s activities.
Reflecting back I am full of admiration for the Mayan people and the laid-back life they lead.