Temazcal Sweat Lodge in Cozumel

by Fyllis Hockman

I am sweating profusely. My pores are so overrun with liquid that I fear I will float away in a river of my own perspiration. Since I am molting inside a sweat lodge, I figure I can’t go very far. Temporarily reassured. 

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CHIAPAS, MEXICO: Maya, Mother Nature, and More.

3 Ways to Discover Chiapas, Mexico

From a Maya immersion tour deep in the Lacondon jungle to a hacienda-hopping equestrian adventure in the Cintalapa ranchland, discover one of Mexico's most magical and least-known regions with three YourLifeIsATrip.com insiders: editorJudith Fein, photographer Paul Ross, and publisher Ellen Barone.

1. MAYA PAST & PRESENT

by Judith Fein

Searching for Maya history, archeology, cosmology and contemporary life, travel journalist Judith Fein explores Chiapas with archeologist and tour guide Yolanda Ruanova.

© Paul Ross.What lured me to Chiapas? Maya ruins, living Maya and San Cristobal de las Casas. I wanted to be transported back to the Classic Maya period, which began in 200 C.E. and lasted until the empire collapsed six to seven hundred years later. I longed to walk through vast, abandoned cities that were hacked out of the jungle, and gaze up at monumental pyramids, stone palaces, temples, tombs and brilliantly-carved stone stelae.  I wanted to walk along paths once reserved for royalty, and contemplate the cosmology and science of a highly sophisticated, pre-Colombian society. 

Palenque was as huge, impressive and complex as I had imagined.  The murals at Bonampak looked as though they had recently been painted, and the nobility, slaves and priests depicted were still alive. The approach to Yaxchilan was by boat, and, in the high-altitude palaces, I could almost hear the squealing of kids playing and smell the flowers in the gardens. 

I longed to know more about the ancient Maya: what did they eat, how did they dress when they were not attending or performing rituals, what was their magic, what did it feel like to go to a ball game, and did they accept or bristle when they were subjected to their leaders’ rigid hierarchical rule? 

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