If you visit the Coba Ruins just to the west of Tulum, you will drive through this Mayan pueblo located on the Coba Road. Spanish is not required, nor is English, as Mayan is the language of this small but unique village that is known for arts and crafts.
As you drive over the three speed bumps that mark this small Mayan village 23 kms from Tulum, you are only see a very small portion of Francisco Uh May. The art and crafts stores are conveniently located on the Coba Road for visitors passing through but the real depth of this location is a few blocks off the highway and worth a little trip into the heart of the village.
All the dream catchers, wood carvings, woven baskets and lamps are made in the small houses and palapas in the village. As rustic as the houses and homes seem, this is an authentic village untouched by visitors, with not a shred of foreign influence. Families make their money from visitors, yes, but they live according to their heritage and values that existed much longer than the Riviera Maya boom.
As a local resident, it was here that I prefer to purchase handmade chairs for my garden, locally grown plants for my garden and have a roadside meal of tacos or grilled chicken. It was my place to get away, just outside the periphery of Riviera Maya Tourism. I found the quality I wanted, I found friendship in the local vendors, and I loved the help from the kids when I had to put my plants and furniture in the car. For me this was a true experience where I felt love was put into the items that I purchased. I felt like I was a part of something.
What we have not been able to uncover is the history of Francesco Uh May, but we have not given up yet. Our Mayan is non-existent, people in the village are shy. We have been able to speak about popular crafts that are showcased on the Coba road, but uncovering historical facts, not yet.
In the last few years we have seen dream catchers throughout the local stores. Dream Catchers are an art form from the North, so we have found this emerging trend odd. What we have been able to discover is why dream catchers started to pop up in stores on the Coba Road.
This is what we were told. Dream catchers and the philospphy behind them were introduced to a local artist. After researching the idea behind creating a net to catch and hold your dreams, the local villagers loved the idea. They also saw an opportunity to create these items with local materials; sea shells, wood, vines, hammock string and dried seeds. Local artisans recognize that dream catchers are not part of the local culture, but they do respect and appreciate the history and philosophy behind them, which is why they have decided to create them.
This is a great place to stop and take a break when venturing to Coba. As the second largest village between Tulum and Coba, it will take you a bit deeper into the heart of the Mayan culture, modern day Maya.
Look at our Coba Ruin itinerary if you are unsure how to plan your day in Coba.