Working with our travel partners, Antilophia Travel, in December 2019 I guided a fantastic family of 6 to Mexico City and the Yucatan Peninsula. My first four days were spent reconnoitring the entire trip which proved to be absolutely invaluable when picking up potential problems as well as defining areas where value could be added. This was the start of the journey to put in place the numerous WOW factors we had conjured up in the months and weeks when planning this adventure. Key amongst these was a treasure hunt to be held at Uxmal. The story our guests would be given as a precursor to this mini adventure was that in 1519 during Hernán Cortés conquest of Mexico, a Jesuit monk was entrusted with a sacred kawil, this kawil holds the power to unite all Myan past, present and future. Knowing the power of the kawil, the Jesuit monk hid the artefact. Clues to its whereabouts were then placed in a book which had found its way into the Merida public library through a recent donation. This is where our guide had found it while doing research conveniently just a few days before our arrival.
On the day of the treasure hunt we had clues written on bark parchment using the exact techniques of the Myanse would have used centuries ago. My guest’s children, ranging between the ages of 10 and 15, took to the challenge with absolute verve and positivity. While searching for clues our guide Joshua was able to explain the rise and fall of this once great Myan site. In fact, Uxmal means thrice built. The final clue for our intrepid explorers was guarded by a pair of tiny deities called Aluxes which share similar traits to the Irish leprechau, who can be naughty or nice depending on how much candy you give them. Once the children had handed over their bounty the Aluxes surrendered the final resting place of the kawil. The clue led us to the very top of the Sun Temple where after forming a human pyramid the youngest member of our team was able to retrieve the treasure and according to ‘legend’ the entire family is now entrusted with the wellbeing of the Myan nation.
The kawil was handmade by a local artist who in bedded 23 pieces of jade, (a favourite of the Myan emperors) into the sceptre-like creation. None of the actual kawils have ever been found, as they were made from wood and are believed to have disintegrated in time, so we had to rely on stucco engravings we knew we would see when doing our exclusive tour of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. We also had expert guide Roberto Murphy insert it into his historical monologue of Palenque on our day visit.
With all the planning that had gone into the activity and many similar activities along the road this was certainly one of the most fun projects I have ever had the privilege to work on. I love and appreciate it when guests give me free-reign to be creative and think well outside the box allowing me to take their travel experiences to a completely new level.
Mexico is often thought of as a turbulent country, however it is important to note that although as usual, I was on high alert at no time did I feel we were in any danger. People were friendly and courteous, both in the big cities and in the country side.