In the Land of the Mayans



Mexico is such a diverse country, a kaleidoscope of colours, cultures, chronicles and culinary experiences. I spend my Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday in the Yucatán peninsula all the way in the southeast corner of Mexico. It’s the ancient land of the Mayans, and all over are scattered traces of their once fabulous culture. I have previously visited the ruins and cities of the Mayans in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, so in way going to Yucatán was a natural continuation for me.

And my, did I enjoy it. We went around from towns to villages and on to some of the Caribbean islands off the cost of the wetlands and beaches in Yucatán. I don’t think I can pinpoint one singular event or place that made the most impression on me. It was all so interesting and fascinating, whether it was the historical grounds of the Mayans, the lovely beaches, the underground rivers and cenotes, the food, the welcoming people or just travelling around in the region. Just two things I didn’t like: Cancún and Playa del Mujeres – I couldn’t get quickly enough out of those places made up for vast consumption and «fenced in» tourism. No, rather the real thing, then, for me – even if others places of course also were invaded by tourist (as myself) .

I have posted a handful of photographs (too many as a matter of fact – please excuse me for being overenthusiastic) from my travel here. I hope you enjoy them – and maybe make you want to visit Yucatán one day. It’s really a lovely place (with the two exceptions that is).



130 thoughts on “In the Land of the Mayans

  1. I so agree with your exceptions…out hotel was in Cancun, but we left every day to go on day trips elsewhere, and we never did go to Playa/Isla Mujeres. I do plan on going back for more!

  2. Another amazing set of photographs, Otto – I can imagine how difficult it must have been to choose just these. Each of them is just extraordinary, and each of them seems to me to tell a story.

  3. you’re always so kind to let us tag along yon your journeys! this post made me wistful to be in tourist mode and back in central america. there’s somethuing so primal about wandering the mayan ruins, especially the ones that haven’t been polished and restored to perfection – your photo of the columns made me want to stop into that scene and sit and absorb, touch the coolness of the columns and think about the people who built them and lived in their presence. that looked like a really special place.
    thanks so much for the tour – oh, and the snorkel photo was wonderful and fun! z

    1. Thank you for the wonderful encouragement, Lisa. And I do agree with you. Those ruins that are still immersed in the rain forest are much more touching and interesting to visit.

      1. i read a great book – sastun, i think was the name, and rosita told of her times with a shaman who befriended her in belize. he told her that the good spirits had left tikal because of so many people there.. i’ve never forgotten that and can understand how that might happen!

        visiting an archaeological site should not be a tourist event- the most current trendy thing to do.. it should be approached with respect and awe and with sobering library or museum-like respect.

        thanks again for that post. i cherished each photo, and of course your words as well!

        1. I visited Tikal long, long time ago and then came back again maybe nine years ago. And, yes, it was quite a different feeling about it. Thanks for the tip about Satsun, I will find a copy. Sounds like an interesting book.

            1. that’s ‘copy’ now coy above! i was in my printer’s office.. perdon!
              i just realized that only yesterday while going through old papers/receipts, i came across some sketches made at tikal. there was one that i had forgotten about from the little museum – a lovely jaguar ceramic piece.

  4. Love the combination of the people and the sites, but I just keep going back to the two boys being creative with , I think, styrofoam packaging. Wonderful!

  5. Hai fatto bene a pubblicare molte foto, così ho la possibilità di vedere luoghi che forse non potrò mai visitare e poi è bello percepire con quanto entusiasmo lo hai fatto e come questo viaggio sia stato per te molto speciale. Grazie e complimenti.
    Ciao, Patrizia

  6. Awesome photographs, Otto. I love the entire set, but my favorite ones are the street vendor scene and the ladies sweeping the ruins. Thank you for sharing what you see 🙂

  7. Beautiful photos, Otto. I love the one of the dresses and the lighting on the one with the sun shining on the side of the building and the gentleman pushing the cart is just fabulous. Mexico is a diverse and gorgeous land. I am afraid I only know it from the more obvious “touristy” parts, and haven’t ventured too far off the path, but I love hearing your enthusiasm. I’ll take more photos anytime!

  8. with all your wonderful photographs, i can see what you mean about the diversity, the colors…the wonders. on the very last photo, was that a natural pool? it looks great!! thanks for another enjoyable tour. ♥

    1. The last picture is a natural pool. It’s what is called a cenote and there are all over on the Yucatán peninsula. Quite lovely and fun to dive into. Thanks for the nice words.

  9. Oj, nu blev jag nostalgisk…tusen tack för att du friskade upp mitt minne och lät mig uppleva Yucatán en gång till så här 25 år senare.
    En häftig, minnesvärd resa genom djungel, Mayalämningar och små byar (då oförstörda) samt häftiga och omtumlande dykupplevelser.
    Har varit på väg tillbaka många gånger, men det har stannat vid tanken då jag befarat just det du skriver om…överexploateringen på massturism:)…vill ha kvar mina “romantiska” minnen av naturen, djuren och människorna.
    Återigen Otto…Tack för titten, jag tar med mig bilderna in i drömmens värld!

    1. Takk, Gertie, nå gjorde du meg glad. Fantastisk følelse å bli del i at ens bilder kan gi en slik opplevelse. Og, ja, noen ganger er det riktig å la minne få leve i fred. For noen år tilbake reiste jeg tilbake til Nepal – som jeg første gangen besøkte i 1984. Den første var det en magisk opplevelse, som å reise tilbake i tid, som å leve en gang i middelalderen. Da jeg kom tilbake, var denne magien borte. Jeg hadde fortsatt en flott tur i Nepal, men det var aldri det samme som under den første turen. Så hold på drømmen, Gertie. Og igjen takk for et vakkert innlegg.

  10. Years ago I enjoyed a visit to Mexico and loved the country – its warm and friendly people – the Mariachi music and dancing – the scenery and interesting food – those beautifully embroidered cotton dresses. Your photos brought back a flood of happy memories. Thank you for sharing them.

  11. It’s always fabulous to “see” your viewpoint. I particularly like the rich colors and tones of many of your images. Your work shows us rich flavors of the landscape and people.

  12. Through these pictures you have conveyed what you felt as well as what you saw and you have made it possible for us to share your feelings.

  13. Brilliant set….all worthy of an individual showing. The smiling portrait stood out amongst many gems. Single handedly you have persuaded me that this is a place I have to visit.

  14. Your photos and your enthusiasm certainly make me want to visit the “Land of the Mayans”. Like you, I prefer to see the “real” people and their culture rather than the fenced in resort areas. It has been awhile since I have travelled but I look forward to seeing some of these sights someday.

  15. Speechless!………the post has just reminded me…there are so many awesome places that I still don’t even have on my bucketlist! updating that now..beaut clicks!

  16. I’ve never traveled to the Yucatån peninsula, but your photos certainly make the idea a fascinating one. I could see your photos as large posters in a travel agency. They really spark the desire to see this part of the world. Very nicely done, Otto.

  17. I have always wished I could visit the Mayan ruins but have never made it and probably won’t in this lifetime. Thank you for taking me there. I love the warmth of your photographs, and as always the way you capture people is wonderful. I have a question: Did you take your “real camera” with you on this trip? I find that I’m often happy these days to leave mine at home and travel light, with just my iPhone to record my photos. I wondered if you do the same, especially on a vacation trip such as this one.

    1. Thank you for a wonderful feedback. I am glad I could bring you along with me to the land of the Mayans. And yes, I took all the pictures with a “real” camera. Only later did I process them in Instagram. I still find the versatility and the quality of DSLR or a rangefinder camera much better than the cell phone camera.

  18. So beautiful. How culturally rich – wonderful photos, Otto.

    You’ve travelled so well – and oh, the Caribbean! – it’s wonderful.

  19. My wife and I have never been there but we’ve been thinking about it. We know of a few people who have visited Mexico repeatedly with no regrets.

  20. I loved this post Otto ! It looks so colourful and full of history and culture. The people in your photos looks so happy. The photos are beautiful and it really looks like a great place to discover.

  21. Muchisimas gracias por sus fotos!

    I am enthralled with your post of my ancestry nation. But, I am shameful at having to reveal that I have not traveled there. I hope to do so in the next five years and the Yucatan is definitely the area that I would go to.

    All your fotos are fabulous; it would be impossible to pick a favorite. 🙂

  22. Yucatan shine amazingly in these images. You make us want to follow journey to such an exotic, fascinating, culturally rich place full of history and wonder. Perhaps this Summer I will be blessed to see Mexico with my family. Thanks.

  23. What a great set of images, with a “kaleidoscope of color” being a fitting way to describe them. In the second set of images, I’m curious where the top photograph on the right was taken?

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