just published: mayan journey

AsiaSpa - Mayan JoureyIf last December’s prevailing wisdom had held true you wouldn’t be reading this. The storied Mayan calendar was famously closing in on the winter solstice and the end of its 144,000-day cycle. Interpreters of the calendar – and a host of New Age conspiracy theorists – predicted the date would coincide with a global cataclysm. Good thing nobody held their breath, because the Maya believed in the cyclical nature of things. The end of the calendar didn’t presage the end of the world; it marked a new beginning.  Call it a transition or period of renewal, but the Maya believed in the necessity of an epochal timeout before moving forward.  Spanish conquistadors might have brought about that break sooner than expected – subjugating the people by the end of the 17th century – yet descendants of the Maya continue to form sizable populations throughout Mexico’s Yucutan peninsula. Plus, many of their cities and ceremonial sites still remain. The wisdom of these ancient Americans hasn’t been lost. It’s laying patiently in wait for a Mayan journey of rediscovery. READ MORE.

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seed the soul

In pre-Columbian times the Maya and Aztecs revered chia seeds for their amazing energy and natural healing powers. One tablespoon of the seeds was considered capable of sustaining a warrior for 24 hours. A component of both societies diets, the ancient grain played a prominent role in religious ceremonies, too. Today, chia is the force behind the famous long distance runners, the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family, which grows in North and South America. Consumed as early as 3,000 B.C., chia seeds were eaten as a grain, mixed with water, ground into flour, mixed into medicines, and pressed for omega-3 oil. As anyone who has followed my capricious dietary peregrinations since the start of this site knows, these extraordinary seeds offer a complete nutritional profile of omega-3, balanced dietary fiber, complete protein, antioxidants and minerals – chia really is one of the world’s healthiest whole foods.  Now along comes Mamma Chia, a new all-organic beverage pairing chia seeds, fruit juice, and a light touch of agave. With flavors like Blackberry Hibiscus, Cherry Lime, Raspberry Passion, Coconut Mango, and Pomegranate Mint, it’s official: chia has gone mainstream. Which is a good thing, really, because I’m addicted to the funky viscosity of these little super seeds.

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rice delights

Yhi Spa at Paradisus Playa del Carmen is wedged both physically and philosophically in the middle of the Cancan to Tulum hi-lo continuum, a potent reminder that sometimes it’s not about the brand but the breeding. Yhi might not be well known in the wellness world but that shouldn’t be taken as a reflection of it’s pedigree – or its commitment to authenticity. The signature treatments in this particular spa are a reminder that maize wasn’t the only grain prized by the local Mayans – they had quite the taste for rice, too. Beyond pairing it with beans, natch. Whether used as an extract or oil, its natural antioxidants were valued for inhibiting free radicals. Used as a water, rice has moisturizing and softening actions, improving the flexibility of skin with a healthy dose of Vitamin E. After an afternoon spent soaking up too much sun, Rice Delight proved the perfect palliative for me: a double dose of exfoliation and massage using rice in all its permutations. Rich in both proteins and amino acids, it left my skin as smooth as silk, proving that sometimes a happy medium is a happy place indeed.

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if at first you don’t ceviche …

Try, try again!  The record heat here in New York is so thoroughly debilitating that I thought it medically necessary to flashback to the weekend before last.  I was overheated, yes, but also enjoying the Pacific breeze in Punta Mita – not to mention eating my body weight in ceviche.

Here’s a shot of the namesake Ceviche Punta Mita by chef Richard Sandoval at Four Seasons’ Ketsi restaurant. A combination of octopus, scallop, shrimp, onion, tomato, jicama and avocado, it’s accompanied by a refreshing shot of Bloody Mary sorbet.

(By the by, New York readers of this site should know of Sandoval, who’s become a leader in the upscale Latin culinary movement.  Born in Mexico City, trained at the CIA, he’s the man behind the restaurant Maya, which introduced the concept of bold and flavorful Modern Mexican to New York City, as well as Pampano.)

And because nothing goes better with ceviche than a big bowl of guac, I’m including a shot of the guacamole made tableside at Ketsi.  It’s mixed and served in a traditional molcajete, a Mexican mortar and pestle made of lava rock.

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tulum

tulum beachOne of the best preserved coastal sites of the Maya, the walled city of Tulum is also one of the most heavily trafficked.  It’s proximity to the all-inclusive package pleasuredomes of Mexico’s Caribbean coast means that most any time of day you’ll find a bus – or five or ten – discharging armies of wristband wearing tourists who’ve somehow managed to drag themselves away from an endless supply of Corona and all you can eat beach buffets to see “the real Mexico.”  They’re  unavoidable.  So don’t trek to Tulum expecting to find a private moment communing with the spirits of an ancient civilization that is still – slowly – revealing its seemingly bottomless well of advanced knowledge and mystery.  Unless, of course, it raining.

the ruins of Tulum

the ruins of Tulum

the dense thicket of mangrove that surrounds the city

the dense thicket of mangrove that surrounds the city

one of the fortified gates for entering the walled city ruins

one of the city's fortified gates

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