Thursday, January 8, 2015

Vacation Learning: Mexico 1/7/15

We continued to learn about Mayan history and culture with a day trip to Ek Balam (black jaguar).

The picture above has the kids looking at the intricate design in the front of the acropolis. What you can see here is the mouth of a jaguar including its nostrils, jaws and teeth. This structure was the home of a governor and was used as a trading post.

 Here is a view of the archaeological park taken from the top of the acropolis.

Going up to the top was not so hard. Coming back down presented a few challenges. We used a special descending technique in which we sat on our bottoms on almost every step :) For some reason Little Guy and I were fast enough to take the picture of Big Sister and her dad coming down.
I have to add that we saw many huge mounds covered with vegetation and rocks.  They definitely have more ruins inside.  Funds are needed to continue to uncover these Mayan wonders.

 After a long car ride, and a few hours under the sun exploring Ek Balam, our tour headed to a Mayan Cenote for a refreshing swim. 
We were welcomed by a Shaman who celebrated a ceremony to cleanse our spirits and bless our families.  The whole ceremony was in Mayan. Cenotes, or underground water reserves, are sacred places because of the fresh water that is otherwise nowhere to be found.

Inside the cenote park we visited a house build in the original Mayan style.  This was a great chance to compare the home of a powerful merchant and governor, and the humble deweling of a farmer.

Finally, in the picture above, our kind and loving tour guide (Gustavo) was holding Big Sister's hand down the stairs to the cenote. My husband decided to go down by rope.  The kids and I played it safe and used the stairs.

Little Guy absolutely loved it! The water was crystal clear, and refreshing cold.  From our group, we were the last ones to get out of the water.

We had lunch after swimming in the cenote. The kids got the opportunity to learn how to shape a tortilla from a wonderful Mayan lady. She also was teaching the kids some Mayan words.

Both kids napped rather well during the drive back from our adventure. When we arrived at the hotel they wrote in their journals. Big Sister wrote about all the Mayan sites we have visited. She included a drawing of her dad descending into the cenote.

Little Guy wrote two entries.  The first one is about going to Tulum, and shopping in Cancun. In the second one, he wrote about the Mayan cenote and learning to make tortillas.

Todays' trip made me realize something about learning on the road.  What you learn makes big impressions, but it is who you learn it from that makes it unforgettable. I seriously wanted to hug every person who shared their culture with us.  Like our caring and funny guide who kept on telling us that we will eat iguana brain tacos, the archeological guide who explained how the ruins are protected, discovered, and restored, the Shaman who performed an extra blessing for our kids, and the lovely tortilla maker who took the time to show us her trade.

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