Travel Tips and Favorite Places to Rejuvenate:
Xcarat, Cancun, Mexico
Submitted by Karen Tate, Speaker, Author, Sacred Tour Leader
Travel industry statistics show that when people travel they want to do more than lay alongside a beautiful pool or beach sipping margaritas. They want to spend their precious time away from work engaged in some activity that nourishes their body, mind and soul, uplifts their spirits, or contributes to the good of society. Some doctors take vacations and participate in efforts such as Doctors Without Borders. People go on spiritual pilgrimages to curry favor with a deity, connect with their ancestral roots or for emotional or physical healing. They rejuvenate their bodies, minds and spirits with what we call in contemporary times, purposeful travel, rather than the more out-dated term, pilgrimage. And statistics also show that more and more women are taking these kinds of journeys, alone and in groups. And many are seeking out places that can bring them closer to the essence of the Sacred Feminine.
Whether one is seeking the Sacred Feminine essence or not, Xcarat is, a cultural, spiritual and eco-archaeological park filling many of the aforementioned needs, for women, men and children. Located just outside Cancun, in the lush tropical landscape of the Yucatan region of Mexico, the park offers more activities than one can possibly entertain in one day, often tempting visitors to return a second or third time. The park promotes a healthy respect and enjoyment of nature and the cultural heritage of the Aztec and Maya world. And for those interested in Aztec and Mayan aspects of the Sacred Feminine, the park is a fun place to experience the essence of the Goddesses, Chalchiuhtlicue and Ix Chel, respectively, in a living, participatory and natural environment.
Xcarat, meaning “small inlet” was one of the most important Maya spiritual and ceremonial centers for more than a century. Goddess devotees who visit Xcarat will immediately be overwhelmed with all there is to do and see which immerses the visitor in a communion with the spirit of Goddess – at an adult amusement park! Here visitors are offered a unique opportunity to feel within Mother Nature’s embrace like nowhere else. Set on the blue-green waters, filled with butterflies, felines and colorful birds, Xcarat is a contemporary sanctuary of Goddess.
Starting with the naturally occurring underground rivers for which this region of Mexico is famous, (which quickly brings to mind Chalchiuhtlicue and “her watery jade skirt” motif), at Xcarat visitors can don a life jacket and flippers and immerse themselves in these cold, swift and clear waters. The experience is almost one of rebirth. The cold water, compared to the heat of the steamy temperature outside, causes swimmers to quickly stop breathing and catch their breath, in a sort of mini-death, only to gasp back life a few seconds later, feeling truly alive from the experience. The clear waters of the underground rivers are magical. One floats in this womb-like waterway for 1,600 feet, sometimes completely underground in dimly lit watery caverns.
The animals kept at Xcarat certainly reflect Goddess, as Mistress of the Animals, especially the large feline cats on jaguar Island where there are adult and young pumas and jaguars for all to see. There are the exquisite butterflies in the Butterfly pavilion. This pavilion is one of the largest in the world and unique for its self-sufficient butterfly reproduction. It is truly awe inspiring to sit amongst these beautiful and delicate creatures whose life is so fragile and transforms so quickly, a symbol of life, death and rebirth offered by the Mother.
As an ecological park, Xcarat is providing breeding and care programs for the animals they house there, including the rare turtles and manatee. The park raises awareness of environmental concerns threatening marine life, animals and the environment in participatory programs such as careful swimming with dolphins. There is a bat cave, wild bird aviary, reef aquarium and native bee exhibit – all creatures of Goddess, known to embody her very essence. One can also enjoy the mushroom and orchid farms or the tropical jungle path, all sources of sacred beauty and fertile bounty.
Maya culture comes alive among the actual archaeological ruins on site in a recreated Maya village and especially during the night time activities. When the lights go down at Xcarat, and the activities of the day close with the setting sun, the ancient rituals of the Maya come to life. At dusk everyone gathers on the terraced seating for spectators to await viewing of Ulama, the actual ancient Maya ballgame. Under the watchful eye of Ix Chel, the Moon Goddess, the evening ceremony begins with a calling for the blessing of the elements of the universe and four corners: air, fire, water and earth, also associated with Ometeotl, the deity who embodies the duality of male and female. The ballgame then begins and spectators are instantly transported back in time, seeing players in native dress of the era, play an ancient game few have ever witnessed.
At the conclusion of the ballgame, spectators walk from the park along a particular route through a modern recreation of an ancient Maya village. The route takes them by various Maya rituals being performed to haunting music by individuals dressed in vivid and glorious costumes. It is truly a unique experience and a rare glimpse at what life may have been like during the worship of Goddesses in ancient Mexico. Sometimes the night activities include touring the underground rivers lit by only candlelight – an opportunity not to be missed.
The park has other activities not particularly related to goddess, though are a continuing celebration of life that is the Divine Feminine within nature. There are opportunities to scuba dive, ride horses, see cultural performances and equestrian shows. There is a museum which displays detailed models of all the archaeological sites on the Yucatan peninsula. There are restaurants, locker rentals, a drug store and all the modern conveniences of home – including the opportunity to get a great massage or facial. One is reminded of the words of the Popol Vuh, a sacred book of the Maya-Quiche, “Here is the story of the beginning, when there was not one bird, not one fish, not one mountain,” Xcarat feels like a paradise, an Eden, a place far from mundane life, a pristine place of nature, from which all life may have been born.
-Karen Tate, Speaker, Author, Sacred Tour Leader, Radio Show Host, www.karentate.com
Excerpted from Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations