Discovering hidden and little locally known gems is my fave. So I was ecstatic when I was invited to hang out in Sacbe, a Mayan Riviera sustainable community in the heart of the jungle of Playa del Carmen. Sacbe is a private property, so you basically have to know someone and have their permission to enter. Lucky for you... my Tia Ira and I are working together to bring in small groups of women (and men) who want to experience Sacbe and all of the natural wonders it has to offer.
Although it's not far removed from the hustle and bustle of the thriving 5th Avenue district-- once you're in, you'll understand why it's such a closely guarded secret that locals don't want tourists trampling all over.
Here are a few things that you will want to do in Sacbe:
Enjoy a vegan and vegetarian prepared meal with friends and locals.
Bill, an owner of the one of the properties in Sacbe, is a retired expat living in the nearly completely self-sustained community. The wood-fire oven, which he built, is often used to when he hosts weekend gatherings, where fresh, organic healthy food is always on the menu and in demand. Guests are encouraged to use the kitchen to make communal meals from ingredients that they bring for all to sample and enjoy while dancing the day away.
Go for a swim in one of the private Cenotes.
Cenotes were a part of a system of underground "freatico" rivers that were the main water source for the Mayans thousands of years ago. Cenote water is similar to ocean water, but much softer and sweeter. The Mayans considered the cenotes sacred, not only because of their importance as a water source and irrigation system for their crops, but it was also used in rituals to communicate with their god of rain, Chaac. Today, to honor the integrity of the waters, when swimming in a cenote, or any body of natural water, really-- wearing biodegradable sunscreen and repellant is a necessity to keep it clean and protect the delicate eco-system.
Visit the Ebben Ku del Portal Xibalaba temple for special healing events.
Ebben Ku regularly hosts cacao, Temazcal and sound healing/meditation ceremonies for locals and invited guests. The circle of cacao ceremony is a gathering to help participants be present and get centered in their bodies and to listen to the body and heart in silence. It allows one to honor the ancestors' memories using old Mayan rituals. At the conclusion of cacao drinking, the circle "opens" (comes out of silence) with the introduction of special instruments, singing mantras, and chanting. The circle's guide leads, then invites others to sing special and meaningful songs that build on the energy of love and compassion.
The musical sound healing and meditation is an eclectic combination of traditional acoustic instruments from various cultures. These ancestral instruments are designed to invoke meditative, contemplative thoughts and feelings within the body, and to effect the molecular structure of the body's cells. Music healing combines aromatherapy, with crystal and color therapy to restore and soothe the body and mind.
Finally, the Temazcal ceremony... Temazcal is a Nahuatl word that means house where you sweat. These small spaces are a part of traditional medicinal practices from different cultures of Mesoamerica. During Temazcal, the body is detoxed and purified using heat and infusions of natural herbs. It is an intense experience, so make sure you enter into it well-hydrated.
Sacbe is a small, but growing community of like-minded people who wish to conserve the jungle, preserve the natural (and stunningly beautiful) water system, build using sustainable materials, while respecting its village of indigenous and ethnically diverse residents. The grounds are full of a whimsical homes which defy architectural norms and have to be seen to be believed. Take a look at the video below for a tour of one the homes currently under construction.
Experience full-body clay healing therapy in the cavern of the Cenote Guadalupe.
Inside of the cavern walls you can get a full-body treatment using local clay with natural minerals and essential oil infusions. The mixture is applied all over the body to help with various physical ailments, including pain the body caused by stress and muscular tension relief. The clay is a natural exfoliant that also rehydrates the skin. Afterwards re-invigorate your senses and float around in cenote Guadalupe's chilly crystalline blue-green waters while peering up through the natural skylight from the ground above you.
Check out the video below to watch footage from my visit to Pueblo Sacbe and see why it's a special, magical place. If you want more information on how to visit Sacbe, hit me up here or contact Casa Corazon. See you in paradise!