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Nearly 5000 years ago Mayans migrated into the Yucatán region of Mexico and between 500 BC and 900 AD they constructed large commercial, ceremonial and religious centers. The first documented Europeans to sail into the area, although they did not land, were part of the 1513 Ponce de León expedition. Four years later Francisco Hernández de Córdova, while seeking slaves, landed. Encountering indigenous people he asked where he was in Spanish. They responded in their language, “ Tetec dtan. Ma t natic a dtan,” basically, “What are you saying?”  Córdova believed they were answering his question and, hearing their words as “Yucatán”, named the land accordingly.

This unbelievably lush and bountiful region remained relatively isolated until the 1950s because the only access was by sea. In the mid-20th century both a railway and a road were constructed to connect the Yucatán to the rest of the country. Because of its former inaccessibility the region has maintained much of the Mayan culture and is home to one of the largest indigenous populations and the greatest number of indigenous language speakers.

 

The Yucatán’s semi-tropical eastern coastline is lapped by the Caribbean waters, famous for being comprised of seven distinctive colors of blue. The pristine beaches and world’s 5th largest barrier reef make this a tourist destination just as it was a sacred and secular destination for the ancients. There are currently more than 2,500 ruins, of varying sizes, in the area including Chichen Itzá, Cobá and Tulum. Seventeen of the ruins have been restored and two have been designated Wonders of the New World. 


Mayan roads were engineering marvels. They were comprised of three layers covered with limestone and crushed shells. These “white roads” were luminescent in the dark and were gateways to the culture and to the most beautiful and luxurious places along the coastline. Modern roads follow many of these same paths and lead to still stunning destinations.