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Friday, November 14, 2008

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To get to the roots of this amazing culture we traveled with an adventure tour company, Alltournative, to Pac Chen—a self-sufficient village, where electricity has been installed only a month ago. As one of our guides put it, “In the middle of the jungle Maya feel like you would in a supermarket—all imaginable food, medicine, building materials—everything is within reach.”
Alltournative employs villagers to work in sustainable tourism industry, and provides a source of income and education for the locals and highly trained guides for the tourists.
Marco Gasca Solis, our guide, said that he abandoned Mexico-city three years ago and decided to live among the Maya, closer to nature. His wife and a newly born daughter live with him nearby.
“Maya are happy people, they like their life and love each other. They play and joke, and live in harmony with the surrounding world,” said Solis.
Mayan villages are usually built around sacred sources of drinking water—cenotes—natural sinkholes connected to underground rivers. In Pac Chen, the cenote is called Jaguar Eyes, because looking down into its depth one can see two greenish round daylight reflections instead of a usual one. A tourist group ahead of us was preparing for rappelling down into cenote, and a local shaman performed a ritual, requesting permission from the god of water.Another similar ritual we witnessed right before our lunch, prepared by the generous people of this Mayan community. Cochinita pibil—a pit-baked pork, seasoned and wrapped in banana leaves, was cooked in the ground overnight and served with pickled red onions and corn tortillas. Photography by Yuri Krasov. 1. Pac Chen cooks at work. 2. Pac Chen family ties.


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