TRAVEL SERIES: Riviera Maya
The Riviera Maya is in the eastern part of Mexico in the state of Quintano Roo facing the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The Riviera Maya begins in Cancun and stretches south towards the country of Belize. It is approximately 80 miles long, dotted with fantastic resorts, beautiful beaches, fabulous historical and cultural sites, and attractions with fun-filled activities. If you travel to this area, consider going to one of the resorts away from the city of Cancun.
Playa del Carmen has beautiful beaches where you can enjoy swimming and sunbathing. The city is modern but you can still find some of the old city charm. You can find some delicious food, superb shopping, and great entertainment. Take your time to discover Playa del Carmen. If you stay in Playa del Carmen, you can take tours to many cultural and archaeological sites.
From Playa del Carmen, you can take the ferry to the island of Cozumel. The beaches are beautiful and because the island is small, you can rent a scooter to go around the island and stop anywhere to appreciate its beauty and charm. My husband and I have been on several cruises where Cozumel is a port of call. If you get a chance, take the Discover Mexico tour. There is a museum, a walk through the park with replicas of important pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial buildings as well as beautiful handcrafts in the souvenir shop. You can gather lots of information about Mexico to share with your students.
Xel-Há is one of our favorite places to visit. It is an aquatic theme park with a variety of ecological attractions and of course very tasty cuisine. When you snorkel, you start at the headwaters of an underground river. As you snorkel along the river, you can see many species of fish and then, suddenly, you are surrounded by the warm water of the Caribbean and more exotic fish swimming around you. It’s a great experience. There are many other attractions that also include ecotourism – a great topic to discuss with students. http://www.xelha.com/
Xcaret is an eco-archaeological and aquatic park. If you like to snorkel, be prepared to swim and snorkel in underground rivers. The shows include “a list of Mexican traditions considered Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the term intangible heritage refers to all those transmitted expressions which give a sense of identity and promote respect for cultural diversity.” You’ll definitely gather information to share with your classes. http://www.xcaret.com/world-heritage.php
We have visited Tulum several times. It is a fabulous archaeological site that was built in the 13th century on a high cliff. It was the only Maya site built by the sea and it was an important trading site. There are several important structures to visit as you walk through the ruins. Unfortunately, some sites have been roped off and you cannot enter them. This is due to tourists who left graffiti on the walls. ¡Qué triste! From the cliffs of Tulum, you can see the splendid, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. It must have been a magnificent site in its glory days! You can walk down to the beach to explore and gain added perspective about the area. http://www.tulumruins.net/
María J. Fierro-Treviño
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