ralf-hollmannAfter 21 years in Yucatán, the owner of Mayan Xic may be a non-conformist… but he loves living in Yucatán because of its perfections, and in spite of its imperfections. He is relaxed, feels accepted here, and…after living in his native Dusseldorf, Germany (average temperatures range from 1º to 22º C) and Powell River, BC, Canada (about the same), it is no surprise that Ralf Hollmann also loves our climate.

Ralf met his wife Maru, a Yucatecan, when they were both singing and dancing on an “Up With People” tour in 1980 (what is “Up With People” you ask? Check it out: www.upwithpeople.org). Maru is famous in her own right, with her popular cookies store in Gran Plaza, Kukis by Maru, which she opened in 1994. Ralf worked with Maru for ten years, but he knew he needed to get out of her hair.

While the couple was raising two bilingual daughters here, Ralf learned Spanish…and Yucatecan. So one day he decided to put the Yucatecan phrase “¡UAY!” on some T-shirts and he started selling them at Kukis, but it soon became clear that food and clothes didn’t mix very well. Mayan Xic originally opened in Gran Plaza in 2005. Its business plan was simple: sell Tshirts (and other stuff) to people who adore the Yucatecan lexicon… with personalized, excellent service. “It’s based on the premise of promoting Yucatán’s unique language, a combination of old Spanish no longer used elsewhere, Maya words and grammar, and hybrids of all three elements,” he explains. (“Xic,” by the way, while it is pronounced like the French ‘chic’ and denotes fashion, actually is a Maya word that means armpit!) Some of the originally-designed Tshirts contain local words and phrases; others touch on topical subjects in politics or sports. But they are all designed to generate smiles and make people feel good.

When Yucatan Today asked Ralf what his advice would be to people coming to Yucatán, he said: “Look for that which makes Yucatán unique, magical and special. Some of these are moments which involve the senses: The smell of a smoky fire underneath a comal where handmade tortillas are being prepared; the refreshing taste of a peeled-to-the-pith china (sweet orange) conveniently cut in half and sold by a little girl at a tope along the highway; the polyphonic cacophony of a group of x’kaues waking you as they celebrate another sunrise; a fresh, whole fried fish on the beach that you eat with your fingers while your toes bury themselves in the sand; the smell of the wet earth after a rainfall; the sound of a melancholy silence on the overgrown grounds of an ornate and collapsing hacienda. Keep your mind open; your senses sharpened, to seek out and capture those increasingly rare moments so you won’t miss them – distracted by mosquitoes or a noisy truck – when they occur.

Excellent advice. And Ralf has taken those ideas to a new level: Lawson’s Original Yucatán Excursions.

By Juanita Stein

Recommended reading:
Face to Face: Paula Sievert
Face to Face: George Ann Huck
Face to Face: Erich Briehl
Face to Face: Abel Vasquez and Melva Medina
Face to Face: Mathieu & Stephanie Bress
Face to Face: Monique Duval
Face to Face: Dr. Carlos Cabrera
Face to Face: Ralf Hollmann
Face to Face: Connie Leal Delgado
Face to Face: Wayne Trotter

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