Group Travel Part 2 - March 2008
There is something about this area that just brings the kid out in all of us. It has been said that visitors leave their brains at the border. Those are the extreme cases when childishness takes over from common sense. Examples would be when tourists rent an open air jeep and don't bother to strap their seat belts. Or we have all seen those crazy Americans who drink too much tequila and try to dance or, worse, speak Spanish. Oh, and there are the radically extreme cases where someone has parasailed right into the side of a resort on Cancun's beach. But I am not talking about the extreme cases.
I am referring to the overwhelming sense of joy and pleasure that happens when you look at the white, sandy beaches and the intertwining 7 colors of blue in the rich Caribbean Sea. Or the miraculous feeling you get when you see a nest of 100 turtle hatchlings scrambling to the sea under the bright moonlight. Or the majestic sense of calm and wonder you encounter when you see the massive expanse of nature in Sian Kaan. Or the awe you experience at walking amongst ruins built a millennium or more before us.
I know that I personally am one of this areas biggest fans. What intrigued me was my curiosity as to whether I was one of the many or one of the few who could truly be touched by coming to the Riviera Maya. All was quickly revealed to me when I brought the first group of vacationers in October, 2006. The group originated from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina and what they had in common was water aerobics. They loved the water and wanted to know where the heck I was going and why I kept going back.
The ages of the group members ranged from mid 30's to 80's. The days were filled with excursions and tours but each and everyone did a marvelous job of keeping up. They answered my question with a resounding YES – this place will touch everyone - not in the same way, but I am now convinced that you cannot travel to this area and not be transformed.
What I saw was astounding. I saw prejudices and fears wash away with the smiles of the locals. One of the greatest smiling ambassadors is Lazaro, a waiter at Lolha Restaurant. He will undoubtedly melt the hardest heart. And when I think of a face of the Yucatan, his is the one that comes to mind.
I saw wonder and joy in the eyes of my group - whether walking along the beach marveling at the shells, sand and vista or sitting quietly on the point at sunrise.
But the moment that touched me the most was at Xel-Ha. When my dear friend, Jo who was in her 80's crawled into an inner tube and floated with us down the natural river. She had the smile of a young girl as she watched the younger ones jump off the cliffs and walk along the ropes. In a quiet voice, and with a smile that said it all, she told me how in her day she would have been there doing the same thing. But for now she was happy floating down the river – doing something she never thought she would do at 80 some years old. There was a pure and spiritual transformation – regardless of how brief.
This is why I have chosen to bring groups to this piece of paradise. Because there is truly something for everyone, if they can open their hearts and reconnect to the child within.
Lydia Linton Pontius, Just Imagine Vacations, Inc. Visit Riviera Maya Vacation site to learn more about group travel in the Maya Riviera. Submit your question by emailing me.
Read Part 1 of this series.