Early next year I will celebrate three years in Mexico. When I moved here I intentionally wanted to live abroad rather than travel. I wanted to really understand this country that I loved so much on a deeper level and I have loved every moment of that discovery, even the moments that at the time are confusing, frustrating or overwhelming. Every day there is an opportunity to learn something new and to sink my feet deeper into Mexico. However, I realized that there is so much more of Mexico that I want to see, so 2014, I want to make a commitment to exploring more than just my two homes, Oaxaca and Mexico City.
A new route has just opened up between Oaxaca and Cancun so that is where I am going to start. I explored there a lot 8 years ago but there are so many incredible places in the Yucatan Peninsula that I want to see, and so many adventures I want to undertake. So in the spirit of speaking your dreams, here are just a few of the things on the 2014 bucket list. Please feel free tell me what else I should add…
Swim in Cenotes
Cenotes, known in English as sinkholes, are naturally created when the limestone bedrock collapses and exposes the water underground. They were sacred to the ancient Maya who believed that they functioned as a direct route to the afterlife. Archaeologists who have dredged cenotes have found gold, sacrificial objects and human skeletons. Cenote water is deep and clear and often the most brilliant blues and turquoises. Some cenotes are open and some just have small openings that allow the sunshine to break through, whilst the ceilings are covered with stalactites and vines that grow down into the water. Breathtaking!
Ok I have to admit that this archeological site has made the list because it has a pyramid called the Pyramid of the Owl. Not sure I need another a reason, but this rather unexplored site looks majestic and intriguing and the archaeological sites of Mexico are one of the many things that sparked my deep love of this country. More info and photos here from Loco Gringo.
This 1.3 million acre biosphere reserve caught my eye during #mexchat on twitter and I have wanted to go ever since. The waters are so clear and meet white sands that are hugged by jungle, giving the impression of rugged, pristine natural beauty. Apparently you can swim, snorkel, kayak or cycle out to the parts of the reserve where you are likely to find yourself alone with nature, as if you were on your very own dessert island!
Succulent pork marinated in citrus and slow cooked underground in a banana leaf. My mouth waters every time I think of cochinita pibil (lit. meaning, buried little pig). I am desperate to try this Yucatecan delicacy wrapped in tortillas, topped with onions and accompanied by refried black beans. It might be worth the trip alone.
Susannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist. Her work has been featured in BBC Travel, CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR and The Independent among others . Check out her portfolio here. Contact Susannah by email, info [at] mexicoretold [dot] com and join her on Instagram and Twitter.