I am back home after three incredible days in the jungle. Our trip to the Explorean was a blast, with so many discoveries and activities that kept us on our feet and exploring the beautiful Mayan World in entirely new ways. It was also a trip filled with opportunity, where I was able to fulfil three things on my bucket list, and try new activities that I’d never done before. It really was an adventure!
On the very first day of our trip, we started the morning with a 45 minute drive to the jungle reserve Chichan-Ha. Chichan-Ha means small wheel in Mayan and it used to be a once-great Mayan civilisation that is now defunct. Afterwards, it became an important religious spot for Franciscans. It was a place of rich history and wars.
It’s a gorgeous place, with towering trees and animal species creating a sound scape unlike any other. The 8 kilometre bike trail was the bike ride I’ve enjoyed most in my life. Honestly, I am terrible at bikes. I was deathly afraid of them for a long time and when I finally learned I never even tried getting off concrete until last year, when I tried mountain biking for the first time. One of my goals for this trip was to stop being afraid of bikes, and I succeeded. The trail was not difficult, but I was still very anxious, and in the end I made it and enjoyed every bit of it.
The moment I reached the Franciscan convent at the end of the trail was the moment I realised just how far I’ve come in getting out of my comfort zone in the past few months.
In the past month I have pushed myself to jump off of things, onto things, jump into super-cold water, climb down creepy and unstable stairs and up a super-high zip-lining tower, walked into swamps and sink in icky mud to my knees, tried eating more spicy food, talked to new people… Each time it has become less and less difficult and it has made so many changes in me.
I’ve always been a city girl, but our journey these past three days has made all the difference. In Chichan-Ha, I learned that if I fall off my bike I’ll be okay, and I discovered one of the most beautiful places in all of Mexico.
At the end of the bike trail, there is an old Franciscan convent in ruins in the heart of the reserve. The place has been taken over by vines and trees inhabiting its crevices and crooks, twisting around it to one day make it collapse.
The beauty and serenity of this place is surreal. An infinity of bird species populate the canopies, creating a unique soundtrack for this battle between man and nature.
It is said that there is a treasure hidden in the grounds around the convent. The legend says that the Franciscans received their payment from Spain in gold coins, and that they hid many of them in the ground. None of the treasure has been found but many attempts have been made. Gold coins are not the only legend of Chichan-Ha. Many believe that the jungle is haunted.
This is related to the discovery of mass graves around the convent, such as the tree above. Chichan-Ha was the site of a bloody mass murder, where most of the population was lost. From time to time, the buried bones resurface and are brought into the convent’s niches as a sign of respect.
The spirits of this civilisation are believed to haunt lone visitors, along with aluxes or dwarf-life mythical creatures that live in the jungle.
After visiting the convent and learning about its history and legends, we embarked on a short hike through the wilderness with our guide who assured us that we would not be haunted if we stayed together. The only sounds were our footsteps and the wild.
This photo story takes you on a short hike on the surrounding grounds of the convent.
On the way back, we were walking towards the vans when we started hearing cracking branches overhead. We looked up right on time to see a group of spider monkeys crossing the road using the trees.