Sunday, July 06, 2008

Working for The Man

Yesterday was tour day within Sian Ka'an. We were picked up by our guide at 7:30 am, which is notable because it takes about an hour to drive down here from Tulum. But these guys are locals. In fact, they live right around here. Alberto said they used to work through travel agents and tour agents, but realized that they were basically working for The Man, giving away a lot of the proceeds to outsiders and not necessarily promoting the environment.

Our tour took us to Muyil, a complex of restored Mayan ruins within the biosphere, and from there on to a freshwater lake, on a float down a canal, and then later floated through a cenote, one of the many freshwater caves cut in the limestone that makes up the Yucatan peninsula.

Alberto was a wealth of cultural information. For example, when I asked him how they made the mortar that holds the stone ruins together, he gave me a detailed description of the process, from how they cut and stack the poisonwood frame to how and when they burn the rock, to how much lime they add. Quite comprehensive.

Lunch consisted of delicious tamales made by a local Mayan woman, part of the community plan to keep the business in the community. And the cook who made the fruit salad and other side dishes is an artist they hired away from the tourist hotels. He carved a watermelon into a gorgeous centerpiece.

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