Mexico conjures many images—mariachi, mezcal, mole, but mysticism and Mayan ceremonies of old, perhaps less so. On a recent trip to the Yucatán Peninsula, I was captivated by this region’s spiritual rituals and traditions.
Picture yourself, eyes closed, in the heart of the Yucatán Jungle. The air is heavy with humidity and a gentle breeze rustles through the canopy of trees above. The jungle is alive with the sound of birds and insects, and you are at the centre of an ancient Mayan welcoming ceremony.
Drums resound rhythmically, maracas create a lively beat, and chants fill the air, harmonising with the resonating sound of a conch shell. As you stand there, a local shaman taps you lightly with branches, cleansing you in the sacred Mayan language. In this moment, you feel centred, present, and very much a part of this place—and so began our experience at Chablé Yucatán, a secluded resort just 40 minutes from Mérida.
Once a wealthy city, Mérida prospered through the rope fibre trade, or ‘green gold’ as it was known. Belle Epoque mansions line the grand Montejo Avenue, offering a glimpse into the city’s former glory days. Now, Mérida has a laidback buzz. Cultural events and concerts are a regular occurrence, and the city played host to Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2022.
The Yucatán is where the Mayans hit their cultural peak back in 300-900 AD, managing to stave off the advances of colonialism well into the 20th century. As such, Mayan culture is still very much alive, and the people are proud of their traditions and lifestyle.
For a step back in time, a visit to Uxmal (oosh-mal) is a must. An hour’s drive from Mérida, this archaeological site was once a thriving city of its own. Unlike Chichen Itza (which draws monstrous crowds), Uxmal feels incredibly peaceful. There are fewer visitors and plenty to admire in the way of ornate carvings, friezes, and sculptures.
Back at Chablé Yucatán, we visited their sacred cenote, where many of the Mayan ceremonies take place. Here, you’ll find the incredible spa. Swimming is forbidden, but you can partake in yoga, meditation, Maya abuela (grandmother) consultations, and rebirth ceremonies, all overlooking the cenote.
The Mayan herbal compress massage left us suitably blissed out, setting the tone to while away the afternoon in the hydrotherapy pools in a state of pure zen.
For anyone looking to heal, purify, and re-balance, the Yucatán might just be the place.
Alternative destinations in Latin America for wellness and spiritual connection:
Ecuadorian Amazon – Delve into the depths of the rainforest for meditation, healing, botany, dream interpretation, jungle treks, and river swims. Led by an indigenous leader and shaman, this experience encourages the release of anxieties, embracing the present moment, and forging connections with the spiritual world.
Atacama Desert, Chile – There’s something intoxicating about laying under a blanket of stars, surrounded by volcanoes, lagoons, and hot springs, for a constant reminder of the grandeur of nature. The Atacama Desert is an enchanting place to recharge and connect with the earth.