I’ve always dreamt of visiting South America. Visiting a country in Latin America, was next on the bucket list after my Las Vegas J Lo adventure last year. I caught the wanderlust bug and our flights were booked to paradise soon after.
I couldn’t be more excited that one of my dreams is coming true! Together with my husband, we are here for 9 days in Tulum, Mexico. Tulum is a town on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, famous for it’s beaches, wildlife and Mayan history, and I feel deeply attracted to these three aspects of this place.
Some of the most widely spoken languages in Mexico, aside from Spanish, are Nahuatl, which has almost 1.4 million speakers, Yucatec Maya, spoken by over three quarters of a million people, and Mixtec, whose speakers amount to about half a million.
People in Mexico almost all speak Spanish as their first language. A minority speak an indigenous language first (Mayan bein the most common) but most Mexicans speak Spanish as well. For many English is a second or third language. Along the Northern border and in all tourist areas, many people speak English, so we had no problems getting around and asking for advice or directions.
I’d like to share with you my Tulum travel itinerary. Below are some of the things that Marco and I experienced and highly recommend if you are planning a trip out here some time in your near future.
1. Swim with the turtles in the Cenotes
Swimming in Tulum’s Cenotes is like exploring a secret underwater world. These crystal clear turquoise pools, are natural sinkholes caused by collapsing limestone rock that exposes mother earth’s hidden groundwater pools. Their fresh water is clean, pure and rich in minerals.
The name Cenote means sacred well, making it no surprise that many mayan villages established themselves close to these spiritual wells. Not only did the ancient Mayans use Cenotes as water sources, they used them to communicate with their gods. These fascinating pools were believed to be communication portals, ways to transport messages to the gods above. We visited many while here. One of my fave was the Gran Cenote and I was lucky enough to swim alongside tiny turtles and it felt so special as they were so close to me feeling relaxed in their natural habitat!
2. Visit Chichen Itsa one of the 7 wonders of the world
One of the mesmerising places I will never forget is Chichen Itza, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chichen Itza and numerous other important Maya temple-cities which have baffled scientists and builders for centuries, were positioned according to a regional sacred geography.
The Maya practiced sacred geography on a large regional scale by the placement of their temple-cities at specific sites that mirrored the positions of various celestial objects observed in the night sky.
The Temple of Kukulkan, the Feathered Serpent God is the largest and most important ceremonial structure at Chichen Itza. The early Spaniards called it El Castillo, meaning the Castle. The pyramid, however, bears no resemblance to a castle and was instead used for religious and astronomical observation purposes.
The ninety-foot tall pyramid was built during the 11th to 13th centuries directly upon the foundations of previous temples. The architecture of the pyramid encodes precise information regarding the Mayan calendar and is directionally oriented to mark the solstices and equinoxes. Each face of the four-sided structure has a stairway with ninety-one steps, which together with the shared step of the platform at the top, add up to 365, the number of days in a year.
During the spring Equinox (March 20/21) and Autumn Equinox (Sept 20/21), the late afternoon sun (at approximately 3pm) reflects off the northwest corner of the pyramid and casts a series seven isosceles triangles against the northwest balustrade, creating the illusion of a feathered serpent “crawling” down the pyramid with its head visible at the bottom corner of the temple. This phenomenon only lasts for about 13 minutes. The night after we visited I dreamt I saw this happen and I saw a black jaguar too lurking below the the temple.
This ‘Serpent’ represented to the Mayans the Kukulcan, the Feather Serpent God The Equinox is a powerful portal gateway to ascension into higher levels of consciousness. At this time of unity, the feminine and masculine merge as one, opening opportunities to unify duality within our selves, and expand our awareness to greater dimensional/light octave levels. The Serpent represents the bridge between the inner an outer worlds, to understand that we are all ONE.
Marco and I were fascinated that when we clapped our hands whilst facing the front stairway, accoustically we had reflected back to us a ‘chirping sound’ said to be the sound of the Quetzal bird, the sacred bird of the deity Kukulkan.
After seeing all the sites, we stopped at one of the stalls and Marco surprised me by buying a silver ring and an arm band from one of the stalls opposite the monument, to symbolise this special moment together and to represent our commitment to the awareness in the shift of human consciousness with the overall flourishing of humanity in the cultural and spiritual sense.
Another magical moment for me and I recommend you visit if you explore Mexico!
3. Get snap happy in the most photogenic Mayan Ruins – The beachfront Tulum Ruins!
While not the most historically important ruin in Mexico, the Tulum Ruins beachfront location make this one of the Top Things To Do in Tulum Mexico. Post-card perfect with a rugged coastline and the Tulum public beach running below, this post-classic Maya site was always going to be popular, and so the best time to visit the Tulum Ruins is first thing in the morning.
Arrive early, walk around the ruins, enjoy the serenity for a good hour before all of the tour buses arrive from Cancun and Playa del Carmen! We stopped for a few minutes of meditation above the little beach beneath the ruins and enjoyed the peace of the place. I could imagine how beautiful it must have been for the Mayan civilisation to live here and enjoy their lives here thousands of years ago. Visit this place and feel its energy, its wisdom and power. I loved it!
Visiting the Mayan ruins and archaeological sites are a must. With walls on three sides and the Caribbean Sea on the other, Tulum was built to be a fortress. It’s a struggle to imagine how such structures and pyramids were made back then.
Besides exploring the coastal Tulum ruins, taking a tour to Coba and Chichen Itza, two other ancient mayan archaeological sites are definitely worth the trek. The cultural day tours by expert local guides, koox are highly recommended.
4. Enjoy a Sacred Shamanic Ceremony with a local Shaman
In the Maya civilizations, the healer played a central role in the community. They possessed an extensive knowledge of the healing remedies, and used them to restore the individual in ill health to a state of equilibrium. The indigenous healing tradition has been passed down orally for many generations and the descendentants of some Maya healers still practice to this day, largely in the Yucatan region of Mexico. The healers played an. To the present day these healers are essential to their communities. The recognition they receive, despite changing social conditions, allows them to continue exercising their medical practice.
We wanted to experience a spiritual ceremony while in Mexico and one particular one came very highly recommended by the local community.
His name is Abuelo Antonio. a 70 year old Shaman who has had 40 years of experience here in Mexico and worldwide. A spiritual leader and plant medicine masterof great wisdom and vision. This is a man with a reputation for having an open communication channel with the Great Spirit, or Great Spirits. He is well known in his community and beyond for being a master journeyer with powerful “generating-the divine-within” medicine plants, in particular, with a legendary visionary brew of the region.
Abuelo Antonio our Shaman is a very wise soul, and together with his wife they run a local sanctuary JardinesColibrodorado where they teach children and adults meditation, yoga and breathing techniques and they also offer spiritual ceremonies for individuals, couples and corporate groups.
We told them about ourselves and where we are on our spiritual journey, and what we wish to achieve in this lifetime, and they recommended the Santa Maria Ceremony. I will never be able to explain in words what I experienced because it is my personal journey but what I can say is that I feel blessed to have had this experience as I know that it has effected my being on many levels.
Smoking this cannabis plant is a ritual in itself: first a hymn is sung to invite St. Mary to join the ceremony. Then the joints are lit. The one who holds it takes three puffs: one devoted to the sun, the second to the moon, and the third to the stars. The joints are passed and the next person inhales three times as well. While it circles, the participants keep singing songs for St. Mary.
I inhale three times, hold the breath for as long as possible and let go. A deep sigh of relaxation. In and out: a miracle. With every breath complete worlds rise up in my minds’ eye. I pass the joint and relax. Everything is open and empty now, no thoughts. Only being itself.
And then.. it breaks through. My heart starts racing like a race horse. A buzz in my head. The world starts spinning. Colours. I elevate to a higher dimension. I become one big, happy smile. I am joyful, the most amazing beauty. My heart is not empty any more, it is full. After this initiation process, we were led to a private room with two massage beds in it. We were given a sacred type of massage in which the Shaman and his wife, using traditional Ayurvedic techniques worked on our energies and transferred energies of our bodies and the rest was a journey of self discovery …. A few hours later, and days later we are feeling serene, very grounded and strong, more close to our soul selfs which is a gift and it is a feeling that I wish to keep more close to. We had a long conversation with the Shaman and Sofia about life and they guided us with some important messages for us at this time of our journey.
Living busy lives without balancing time for ourselves makes us lose our connection with our spirits, we are bombarded with fearful news and stories, and we focus on work and money but life is not about that. Our experience here on Earth is to enjoy Being and this was a reminder from the Mayan Culture to get in touch with our hearts more, to follow our passions and to follow the guidance from our spirits to do what we love, without fearing judgement. Thank you to this Shaman for this wonderful moment that we will treasure!
5. Beach it
Tulum is a hippie haven. It must be a combination of the area being sacred to the Mayans, the laid back atmosphere of the beach, the natural beauty, and the jungle vibes. There’s just something about it that calls the type of people who are into the spiritual or holistic side of life, like myself and my husband. If you’re curious about this kind of thing, the beach area of Tulum is the perfect place to try something new, like a cacao ceremony (this yoga studio hosts them from time to time), yoga classes, holistic health offerings and meditation classes. Just explore and see where your open mind can take you!
6. Browse in one of Tulum’s boutique shops
If you’re the kind of person who cares about fashion like me, you’ll love the many boutique vendors that sell hippie-inspired wear in Tulum. No wonder why shopping is one of the most popular things to do in Tulum. Just be prepared for sticker shock, as Western prices dominate here.
There’s several clusters of popular shops along Tulum’s south beach road – just walk or bike the road and stop along the way.
7. Happy bellies
As you know, I love my food and checking out local specials everywhere I travel. From beachfront restaurants, street food stands and jungle cafes, there’s something delicious for every foodie in Tulum. Located on the coast line of Yucatan, means restaurants have great seafood selections. Fish tacos, a Mexican folded tortilla filled with fish and delicious veggies is a common offering in the area. I’m already craving some authentic Mexican guacamole too! We ate tacos almost every day and we also checked out some Japanese, Thai eateries.
Quite a few restaurants have already caught my attention. Hardwood, banana cafe and Raw Love are already on our dining list. Me and my husband have been following salsa lessons over the past few months in Malta but we haven’t come across any club as yet. Maybe Tulum’s beach clubs and restaurants will be the place to put our improved salsa moves into action! We’ll see …maybe at the wedding tomorrow I will get to dance a little with my man 😉
Keep up with my Tulum adventures on daily Instagram stories @graziellecamilleri!