Welcome back to my blog! You guessed right! It’s time for another story of my adventurous tour around the world. Today I will be talking about my experience when I visited the Yucatan Peninsula. I stayed 2 months amidst jungle, turquoise sea, and vestige of the Mayan civilization. I was thrilled by the Mexican vibes and easy side of life that was offered to us during my stay.
About Yucatan Peninsula
An embarrassing fact I couldn’t escape from was the number of tourists around the area. As one of the safest places in Mexico, and one of the most beautiful places, you should expect hordes of tourists continually roaming around. Resort towns are blooming everywhere, where few locals used to live.
Even small fishermen towns have been transformed into a metropolis tourist paradise within 30 years. This quick reformation reminded me of Dubai, but on a smaller scale and without the luxury appeal. Just like the UAE, it’s super-hot there! With humidity, temperatures can easily ride up to 40 degrees during the day and trust me, it does not get cold at night. Yucatan Peninsula is common to most tropical places I’ve seen. Energy is drawn by the heat, so you have to pace your day accordingly.
Mayan Community at a glance
I was privileged to visit a small Mayan community inside the Jungle. They had a shaman and there were healing ceremonies from time to time. During my stay there, they proposed a traditional Mayan ceremony, I found this a perfect opportunity to record incredible footage which I did. With my taxi driver, and a guide from the community, we walked a small path through branches to arrive at a secret place in the middle of the forest; this is where the ceremony took place.
The shaman greeted us and prepared the table and bowls with ingredients, and lit up some incense. Mayan beliefs are fascinating, and intimately related to the surrounded nature. In the Yucatan peninsula, there are many holes in the ground forming a kind of cave called Cenotes! The Cenotes are said to be the gateways to the otherworld, and thus a door to contact the spirit and god from the other side. The cenotes have been in place for ceremonies and sacrifices for centuries. The same day I was about to visit a Cenote, was the same day the shaman was spelling on us, but he also gave us general health.
Custom Setup Used
I installed my custom easy setup with 2 LOM Mikrousi in an “AB config”, and I tried to document the entire event with photos and videos at the same time. The stealth-subtle setup was enough to capture the sounds of the Shaman and the ambience surrounding the area.
Few weeks ago, I discovered that twist ties can make really useful on-the-spot mic handler for smaller microphone. They are really easy to carry around. Therefore this is how I handled this recording.
The Sacred Mayan Healing Experience
At one point, we drank a potion made from tree sap, called Balché. The ceremony was in the Mayan language, which is still spoken in some communities around the Yucatan Peninsula. Of course, I didn’t understand any word of the Mayan language, and I was still struggling with Spanish, but I was able to communicate with the guide who spoke Spanish as well.
The shaman spoke and preached almost all the time of the ceremony, with a fast-paced verse and kind of rhythmic language. He was repeating the same formula many times. He was preaching and at the same time manipulating a jar with plants and smoke, walking in different directions, and at one point facing the forest.
The ceremony was mesmerizing. It was quite difficult to manipulate my equipment at the same time because I felt it was a little bit disrespectful to handle my equipment in such a sacred time, but it was okay, I stopped while during the drinking time with the shared sacred sip. You can listen to the sounds recorded here:
All in all, it was a really special moment for me. Apart from it being a unique place, it was my first time experiencing a Mayan ceremony. This was quite different from the ceremony I witnessed in Ecuador back in 2017, where singing was employed; the Mayan ceremony was more of a talk recital. Next time I would love to see more Mayan ceremonies from various shamans.