Imagine yourself transported to a time of ancient warriors and traditions over a 1000 years ago, when people from all over the Land of the Maya carried out a yearly pilgrimage to worship the goddess Ixchel. Now imagine that you could be a part of the ancient ritual right now-welcome to La Travesía Sagrada Maya -the Sacred Mayan Journey.
The ritual originally would begin days before in the marketplace known as Kii’wik, where people traded for the different objects that were to be offered to the goddess. The market days became ones of great festivities for the valiant oarsmen who had prepared to take on a most sacred journey; one that called them to cross a vast ocean and gather special favors from the goddess of fertility for all the people.
But now, each year at the end of May, history comes alive as Xcaret Park in Playa del Carmen reenacts the Sacred Mayan Journey and allows you to witness this ritual as the oarsmen are blessed and sent out once again across the oceans to travel into the past and witness this most ancient of traditions and bring it back to life.
Each year people from all over gather on the beach of Xcaret to bid farewell to the Oarsmen and they set out on their journey. Those that are selected to recreate this solemn ritual gather before dawn and just as those before them, set out to face their fears and paddle with an inner strength that will test them both physically, mentality and emotionally as they leave from beach at Xcaret to the cove the island of Cozumel, with the sole purpose of reverence and honor to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of the moon, fertility, textiles and medicine and then make the journey back the following day.
For those lucky enough as I was to be a part of this and see the ritual unfold before my eyes, I was profoundly effected and touched in ways I never imagined. You can see it in their faces and the faces of their loved ones-the look of pride, strength and determination as they undertake the challenge of a lifetime.
Six months of training means the formation of bonds that not only will never be broken but one that can only be truly understood by those that have made the journey themselves.
For some it is the physical challenge that calls them while others seek to embark on a spiritual journey but the common factor is the oarsmen that paddle out to sea come back forever changed as do those watching from the shores. It is something that words cannot explain but must be experienced because every person will take away with it something different and moved in ways that really do defy explanation.
So what do you need to know to plan your visit to be a part of this ancient ritual come to life? Festivities start before dawn at Xcaret Park. With the first rays of the sun on that morning in May, the Bataoobs (local chiefs), together with a Mayan priest, lead the blessing ceremony and the farewell to the oarsmen who paddle their canoes through the unforgiving waters of the Caribbean Sea to the island of Kuzamil in Cozumel where the oarsmen are welcomed to their shores around1:00 p.m. in the cove there.
If you have the opportunity to travel by ferry to Cozumel on the same day, you can attend a ceremony given by an oracle that takes place that evening during which the oarsmen present their dances and receive messages of peace and harmony from the goddess Ixchel.
As the sun comes up the following day the villagers of Cozumel bid farewell to these brave oarsmen, who once again cross the open sea to return back to where it all started at the shores of Xcaret to complete the Sacred Mayan Journey. As the oarsmen descend upon the beach it is then that the celebration truly begins with festivities for all including music, food and fun all of which celebrate this ancient Mayan tradition that represents the welcoming of a new and improved era.
Make plans now to witness the Sacred Mayan Journey in May of 2018 and be a part of this unique experience that will leave you forever changed and that will become a part of your heart and your soul forever. When was the last time you experienced something for the first time? Xcaret Park in Playa del Carmen is calling you.
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Disclosure: Disclosure: I was invited by Experiencias Xcaret for a hosted visit to Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen in conjunction with Family Vacation Hub and ConnectHer Media for the purposes of this review however all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.