There are flavors and aromas so delightful that they are capable of awakening our senses. Together they can create moments that amaze us and create happiness. These instants are forever treasured in the memory. That was my experience when I took the “Sabor a miel y coco” tour organized by Co’ox Mayab (“let’s go to the Mayab”), an initiative dedicated to community-based alternative tourism in Yucatán.
Co’ox Mayab is an company that integrates 14 tourism cooperatives throughout Yucatán, 10 of them as partners and four through alliances. It was developed as the union of social enterprises in 2014-2015 aimed at channeling the efforts that have been made by the different tourism cooperatives for years, and to give them more visibility with a Mérida-based office that works under a travel agency framework. They offer communitarian tours, ethno-tourism, agro-tourism, to mention a few, with an educational and responsible vision of solidarity. They have received support from Fundación ADO, Fundación Banamex, Indesol, and UADY.
To really experience Yucatán, more than just visiting it, is to experience the current culture coexisting with Maya traditions, through the daily lives of the people in the communities. All of this is possible with the responsible tourism tours that Co’ox Mayab offers, where you can choose the destination and the activities. You can go to a “milpa” (farm) at 5 am and hear a Maya agricultural producer sharing his wisdom inherited from his ancestors, learning the sowing techniques and the offerings to the earth, followed by a visit to the archaeological site of Ek Balam, with the tour “De la milpa al turismo” (from the farm to tourism).
To learn about the “Mayas de ayer y hoy” (the Maya of yesterday and today), this tour to Tekit and Mayapán is an excellent way to dive into the daily life of the men and women who take care of their plot of land, watch the processes of hammock-making and embroidery, even participate in the baking of bread with Yucatecan techniques.
From the tours built around a route or activities like bird watching, walks through protected natural areas, cenote swimming, zip line, sport fishing, cabin lodging, and more, you can choose the dates, the destination, and the transportation (at additional cost). If you are Yucatecan you’ll be surprised with all the things you didn’t know about what is done and produced in these communities; if you are a new resident, national or foreign, you’ll fall in love even more with this land; and as a visitor, you’ll have a touristic experience like none other.
I chose “Sabor a miel y coco” to learn about Maya apiculture and enjoy the beaches and mangroves on the Yucatecan coast, accompanied by the young editorial team of Yucatán Today. We visited Sinanché, an hour from Mérida and 10 minutes from Motul; you can start this day with “Huevos Motuleños” at the Motul mercado.
Benigno Ramírez, our guide, shared with us the story of this family cooperative dedicated to honey and api-tourism for three generations. Today they produce propolis, syrups, shampoos, and soaps. We visited five cabins with details about the community, the origin of Maya apiculture, and the importance of honeybees, and we also tasted each of the varieties of honey that is produced there. We learned about the flowering process, the color, and the crystallization of the honey. We each made our own candle out of wax, and after donning safety equipment we visited the bees. We were able to touch them and observe how they are organized and how they work: a respectful and amazing experience. Of course I couldn’t leave without buying some honey from the store to enjoy at home.
If you haven’t had Yucatecan honey, you should know that its high quality has made it famous worldwide. The most well known is the product of the local tree, Dzidzilché, an aromatic honey with a thick consistency. A multi-flowered honey is also produced, from the “jabín” and other trees, each with its unique characteristics of color, flavor, and thickness. The honey produced by the melipona honeybees (they have no sting), though made in smaller quantities and at a slightly higher price than the standard, has a lot of nutritious properties.
The tour continued to San Crisanto, famous for its coconut trees. There you can eat, drink, and even buy jewelry and accessories made out of coconut. The cooperative offers tours to the mangrove, visits to the quiet and peaceful waterhole Dzonot Tzik (“wild cenote”) with cabins facing the white sand beaches; you won’t want to leave. Enjoy this unique experience that allows you to directly benefit the people of the communities and to experience Yucatán with the tastes and aromas of honey and coconut.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Photos by Co’ox Mayab for Yucatán Today’s use
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