Mayans and Mennonites

mennonitesLook for Mennonite crossing signs in rural Campeche

One of my favorite experiences while traveling through Campeche was seeing the many Mennonite communities along the way. As a German I was curious. Persecuted for their beliefs, the Mennonites had left the German speaking parts of central Europe hundreds of years ago. And up until now, I had never encountered them.

Walking through a local market, I found myself being transported back in time. In the sea of short Mayans, there were tall, pale women in dark floral-print dresses and men in black overalls, plaid shirts and straw hats. It was surreal. Although I couldn’t stop staring at them, I was mostly curious about their Germanic language. After all, they were my people (or so I thought). A few days later, we finally had a chance to talk to them.

While visiting an archaeological site near Hopelchen, we met a young Mennonite couple who had just emigrated from Continue…

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

calakmul-1Structure I

In the past, we’ve often been criticized for being overly critical in our posts. Some have suggested that we long for a level of authenticity and discovery that no longer exists in the 21st century. Well, we maintain those absurd standards, so that when we get to a place like the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, we can say, “THIS PLACE IS PHENOMENAL!” and it means something. This is everything we love all wrapped up into one destination: enormous Mayan pyramids, a vast carpet of jungle, and wildlife everywhere.

Just driving into the reserve is a major adventure. Starting from the remote village of Conhuas, visitors make their way along a 60 km stretch of majorly potholed road through dense, spectacular jungle. People who rush or arrive late in the day are making a major mistake; the drive in is one of the highlights. We saw dozens of beautiful ocellated turkeys and even caught a glimpse of Continue…

Is that a Jaguar in your Pocket?

jaguar-key-chain

Years on the road, and this has to be the most ridiculously large hotel keychain we’ve ever seen: an eight-inch wooden jaguar. When the receptionist handed it to us, we both started cracking up. She said she wanted to make sure that guests didn’t forget to turn the key in before they leave. Of course, we came to Xpujil, otherwise known as the middle of nowhere, hoping to encounter a jaguar. I have a feeling that this might be it.

Picture-perfect Campeche

campeche-1

The city of Campeche is a fantasy, a UNESCO World Heritage site with perfectly restored buildings, cobblestone streets and pastels as far as the eye can see. And no, it’s not just another old Spanish colonial town. It definitely stands out among all the Mexican cities we have visited.

Unlike Merida, where the beautiful and the not-so-pretty are all mixed up, Campeche wows you from the moment you step through one of the city gates. There’s no bad angle here. It is colorful, lively, and insanely photogenic. The fact that much of the old town is surrounded by Continue…

Uxmal

uxmal

Uxmal is awesome! Located 80 km south of Merida, the ancient city is consistently ranked as one of the most impressive Mayan sites. As soon as you enter, the rounded Pyramid of the Magician looms above announcing that everything at Uxmal is going to be a bit different. As with many of the smaller nearby Puuc sites, the stonework at Uxmal has held up exceptionally well meaning that much of the exterior architectural ornamentation remains intact. It is one of the best opportunities on the peninsula to get an idea of what a Mayan city would have actually looked like.

As we moved further into the complex through the Nunnery Quadrangle towards the House of Doves, I kept asking myself why Continue…