For many years we peered down jungle paths, saw tortilla making at a distance, smelled the kitchen fire of local houses, and struggled through learning which plants helped our insect bites, bad stomach, or headaches when pharmacies were few and far between. We read a lot about the local Mayan culture but did not see nor could see the culture first hand.
In 2011 two guys, who volunteered in local Mayan villages, saw an opportunity to involve both local Mayan families and visitors in an invaluable relationship that shares culture, history and knowledge. Their volunteer work through the Red Cross brought them into remote villages south of the tourism corridor of the Riviera Maya. Their mission was to increase the reach of Red Cross services to these remote villages. What they found is they received more through their contact with the elders and families in the area then they ever imagined. They learned about environmental harmony, the true benefits of community, natural cures for common ailments and how to sustain a happy and healthy life without all the gadgets that we seem to think we need. They witnessed a balance, true happiness and love they had not seen in the large multicultural cities they had lived in.
Ojos Mayas was born out of this experience. It is a joint project developed with a local village, a sustainable tour company and two guys originally from the interior of Mexico who have settled in the Rivera Maya. Their mission is share what they learned from these communities during their volunteer mission. The project is done in partnership with the local villagers who want to share their harmonious living, culture, knowledge and happiness. Everyone wanted to demystify and share Mayan culture, making it obtainable to those who are interested.
Expect a full day, a translator (all villagers speak Maya so no matter what language you speak an interpreter is needed) a lesson in environmental diversity, a great meal, an history lesson, and new friendships. This experience provides insight into the DIY life so many are trying to live again. It is insight into community harmony, simplicity, and hard work.
Tours do not happen every day. The community fits tours into their daily lifestyle and work schedule. The villagers have determined the tours days, Ojos Mayas does not dictate when visitors can come. The villagers have daily work routines that are essential to their livelihood. They embrace visitors on the days when they are not farming, forging in the jungle or on the lake fishing.
You will experience a true harmony between land, people and spirit. You will learn how to interact with the environment as an exchange, not as an economy. You will hear first hand stories from the Caste War, folklore, and ancient recipes.
You will walk away understanding a culture that has been disenfranchised by the Spanish, by Westerners and by industrialization. You will understand why local villages are protesting GMO farming, supporting reforestation, and maintain an organic way of life. You will have new teachers, and new friends.
Ojos Mayas is a great way to spend your day while visiting the Riviera Maya. We suggest you visit a ruin or two first, dive into some local museums or read a few books on Maya culture before diving into the village. These introductions will help put the current Maya culture into perspective and understand the true nature of the people who have opened up their doors to you.
To book Ojos Mayas Tours email our concierge Paulina. To review the tour details check out their website.