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The Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatán Peninsula was the home of the Maya civilization before it was conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. Much of the population is part or all of Maya descent and in many places the Maya language is still spoken, usually in addition to Spanish, which is the main business language.

Until the mid 20th century, most of the Peninsula's trade with the rest of Mexico was by sea, and the culture, cuisine, and traditions developed different flavours from other parts of Mexico. Starting in the late 20th century the Yucatan has become more integrated into Mexico, especially such areas on the Caribbean coast as Cancun and Chetumal, where many people from other parts of the nation have moved to take advantage of the economic opportunities of development. The Mayan Riviera stretching south from Cancun has certainly seen the most growth related to tourism.

The Yucatán is home to several famous Mayan archaeological zones. The best known and most widely visited by visitors is Chichén Itzá, the site of the Kukulcan Pyramid, the Maya Observatory and the Sacred Cenote. A contrasting cultural style, more ornamental, can be observed at Mayan sites along the Ruta Puuc. The most famous Mayan sites in Quintana Roo are located at Coba and Tulum. 

Equinox: This is the period when the sun is directly above the equator, usually March 20 & Sept. 23 of each year. Mayans are very dependant on astronomy as reflected in their art and temples. At Chichen Itza, during sunset on the Equinox, the shadows of the serpent-god Kukulcan, moves down along the pyramid, a very impressive sight. Other structures also have Equinox related events that take place on those days also, like Tulum.

‘Cenotes of the Yucatán’ are complexes of sink holes and caves in the Karst geological landscape of the Yucatan. Some cenotes contain spectacular cave formations, while others are important archeological sites and several were considered sacred by the Mayans. A few are open to the public for swimming and diving and are well worth the trip if you get the chance to go. Cenote Dzitnup is a goodie...

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