Tourist. A word. A bucket list item. And on
the southeast coast of Mexico, big business. Life here revolves around the turista, whether man, woman or beast. (There aren’t male “turistos”.) It’s also what they call that feeling in your
gut after you ingest too much of the local water. I arrived as a turista headed to Cozumel.
Or, as the straight-faced señor selling information upon arrival put it: “Cuzamil, es la historia”.
That history goes back to the Yucatec Maya. As their civilization expanded, some Mayans
packed up their language and architecture and traveled the ruta maya up to this wide,
flat peninsula, the Yucatán. So the ruins here are a bit younger, which doesn’t stop
the turistas – Chichén Itzá is about 10 times as popular as fabled Tikal. That’s all history, like the man said, but
it’s not all in the distant past. Until recently, the Caribbean coast of Mexico was pretty undeveloped.
Not small houses with a few open lots kind of undeveloped, but fresh jungle kind of undeveloped.
Savage. Salvaje. The very salvaje, very flat, very Mayan Quintana Roo became one of Mexico’s
two newest states in 1974. Some locals still speak Yucatec. I’m told
you can even practice the language if you get the right person to open up. I didn’t
have much luck… might have something to do with my Mayan being limited to xoc and
balam. But, much like you and me, most of the smiling
faces around here flocked to these beach towns thanks to big turismo. Snorkel tours, dive
tours, tours to the ruins – oh and don’t forget your T-shirt and wiggly turtle! Have fun,
be safe and bring your pesos, fellow turista.