Our September issue of Traveler includes a special section on Mexico, featuring 50 surprises that our team of writers uncovered during their adventures. Traveler Senior Researcher Meg Weaver worked to help put the package together, and we asked her to pick her favorites. Below are the batch that had her longing to get away. You can find the full list in our September issue, now on newsstands.
I enjoyed researching #9 "The Mysterious Swimming Holes of the Ancient Maya," about the cenotes in Yucatán. I'm not a diver myself but wouldn't mind going for a dip in one of these flooded sinkholes. The Maya believe they were portals to the underworld and it's obvious why: the emerald waters, the vines cascading from the limestone rim above, the cool, fresh water. The cenote at Yokdzonot, ten minutes from Chichén Itzá, was cleaned up and opened as a sustainable tourism business by a small community group of Maya entrepreneurs. Online expat magazine, Yucatan Living, features a nice story and a video of the cenote at Yokdzonot, starring a lucky gallina (chicken).
Next up, #26 "The Town with the Pauchy Pups," about the ceramic potbelly dog statuettes of Colima. These ceramic pups were found in the region's shaft tombs. Scholars guess at their meaning: Perhaps dogs were a source of food or ritually sacrificed by the ancient Maya. Maybe they were the doted-upon family pet. Perhaps the Maya thought of dogs as indispensable escorts on their journey after death through the underworld. The mystery remains, but the market in souvenir pups flourishes throughout Colima.
Finally, # 27, "Chasing the Rain God on the Ruta Puuc," also in Yucatán. I enjoyed learning about lesser-known Maya sites off the well-worn Chichén Itzá track, and the unique architecture on display, especially Labná's inverted "V" arch. The Maya never utilized the Western keystone when constructing such impressive structures. Like conceptualizing zero and building many of their temples without mortar, the accomplishments of the ancient Maya continue to amaze, with Labná's arch yet another jewel in their crown. These three picks further my fascination with one of Mexico's mighty pre-Columbian peoples.
What are your own favorite Mexico discoveries? Let us know in the comments, below.
Photo: Teyacapan via Flickr