Posted by Val Fox
on April 28, 2012 at 4:55 PM
Once upon a time when I heard the word Yucatan I thought of Mexico, white, sandy beaches and colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas poking out between the ice. It was a place that others went to visit, but not me. There were always plenty of exciting places to visit right here in Canada or maybe across the line in the United States. We live just 25 minutes to the U.S. border. This attitude persisted until 2010 when my daughter took me on a New Year's Day flight down to the land of Yucatan. It would be a girls-only trip with her and my granddaughter.
The Yucatan Peninsula is located in southeastern Mexico, separating the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. The peninsula lies just east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepic, the portion of land dividing North and Central America. Yucatan is a free and sovereign state, one of 31 within the Federal entities of Mexico. It is divided into 106 municipalities with the capital being the city of Merida. There is some debate on the origins of the word Yucatan. Hernan Cortes wrote that the name Yucatan originated when Spanish explorers asked local Mayans the name of the area. They replied Yucatan, which meant that they did not understand his question. Other sources state that prior to the arrival of Spaniards, the area was known as Mayab, meaning "a few." Others claim the name originates from the Aztec word Yokatlan, meaning "place of richness."
Formerly a cattle ranching and logging area. the Yucatan is now primarily a tourist attraction. Hotels of all kinds offer simming pools overlooking the sea, giant hot tubs, water sports and entertainment for guests. I saw hundreds of restaurants, many serving traditional dishes and more familiar menus. You can golf, explore caves or take a boat ride - there is something for everyone on the Yucatan. My granddaughter enjoyed the hotel children's club and getting her hair styled with tiny, golden braids. Grandma shopped in the markets, went snorkeling and returned home with a lovely sun-kissed tan. Even with the use of a good sun screen you are sure to return nicely bronzed.
The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most strategic places in the world dedicated to the preservation of marine sea turtles. Today, there are species at risk of extinction because people exploited them for meat, eggs and their shells. Birds unlike anything I've ever seen, in all the colors of the rainbow swooped over the blue-green water or perched in massive trees. The humidity clung to our clothes, making it soft and supple. We actually noticed a big difference in our skin and hair after only two days.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a place I'd like to re-visit some day. In spite of frightening stories in the news about drug wars and crime, the Yucatan is a pretty safe area overall. Just don't carry large sums of money and don't go anywhere alone. Enjoy the warm beach and sea, but pay attention to the beach signs, and don't swim out too far. Those small waves are more powerful than they look. I heard there was a nude beach down in the Tulum area. Maybe next time...There's something for everyone in the Yucatan. Bye for now, friends.
Photo Sources: Creative Commons
The above blog was part of the April 2012 A to Z blog Challenge. Tomorrow's blog will look at the letter "Z." See you then!