Riding ATVs in Mahahual, Costa Maya, Mexico


It’s a very hot and sunny day in Mahahual and everybody is getting ready for the fun trip of the week. We woke up early (my boyfriend Paco and I), I was feeling very excited. We went to the entrance of the Costa Maya cruise port, we put on our helmets and got on an four wheeler.

The rest of the gang were waiting for us at the Gas station. We were sixteen, 8 girls, 8 boys. We all knew each other. We work together at the Costa Maya port. The guys would drive the vehicles and us, the girls, would hang on to something in the back sit to prevent falling down at a very high speed and break all of our bones. Do you think that’s funny?  Well, it is.

The day was perfect. No clouds in the sky, the sun was shining really hard over our heads and as we started driving trough the road that would lead us to the beach I could feel the temperature rising over my face and shoulders. I was wearing sunglasses, a handkerchief on my mouth and that weird helmet as a protection.

I held on to Paco really tight but he could feel I was nervous and a little insecure.

He used to be an excellent ATV guide a few years ago so for him was as easy as getting on your car and driving to work on regular basis.

But for me it was a new experience. This wasn’t a typical tourist trip. This was a “fun trip”. And let me explain you what that is in Mexican terms: You do whatever you want to do. You take risks, you break the rules, you let yourself go, and you open trails. But always with responsibility and covering each other’s back. We were a team. All of us.

Paco and I were another team.

So in order to give him total freedom and to enjoy the ride, I had to let go all my insecurities and trust my life to him.

The boys knew very well all the roads and how to drive at about 60 miles per hour through dirt, cement and beach dunes because that’s what they do for a living every single day at the port when the big cruises come.

but my activity there is to take the tourists to different archaeological Mayan sites of the area. So my idea of speed at work is walking up the stairs of the Mayan pyramids and help sixty and seventy year old ladies meeting at the TOP of the temples.

You see, I recently moved to this small fishermen town called after a flower, and my idea of fun is to walk down the beach on weekends at a very slow pace with Paco, taking pictures of pelicans, egrets and magnificent frigates, or if we decide to go out on a Saturday in an “all-kind-of-animals-watching” excursion through the mangroves driving a golf cart.

But when I see myself “flying” and jumping in an All Terrain Vehicle at a very high speed with my mouth and face all cover in dirt and sand, well, the idea of fun starts to change.

I remember having all kind of thoughts that day at the first part of the trip. The kind of crazy thoughts I didn’t wanted in my mind while I was grabbing to Paco really tight like we were ONE. Thoughts like “Oh my God I’m going to fall” OR ” I swear that if I make it in ONE piece I will stop complaining about..”, whatever you want to fill in the blanks with. It doesn’t matter.

And all those thoughts and feelings wouldn’t let me live the experience through my senses. So I decided to really let go, stop my mind and my negative thoughts about falling or breaking and become one with the elements. I could feel the hot wind in my face, I could taste the salty breeze of the sea drying my lips out, the noises of the ATVs accelerating and covering us all with sand and dust and I felt happy. I felt the perfectness of the moment. I realized that the secret behind every experience specially the extreme ones, is when I connect my brain with my sensations and not with my thoughts.

I think that’s the reason why most of the people that practice this kind of sports are mostly men. For them is easier to disconnect the logical part of the brain and be connected at 100% with their feelings and sensations. In the other hand, women tend naturally to “think” different possibilities of what it could happen if anything goes wrong.

But this time my intuition told me that everything is fine, and thanks to that feeling I was able to had one of the greatest time in my life with the person I love. This trip helped us to get closer as a couple and trust each other a little more.

After a few stops on the way to cheer with beers for the magnificent day we were living and take pictures of the whole gang, we got to “El Placer”.

If you are staying in Cancun or anywhere in the Mayan Riviera and want to take a look at this town where the most luxurious cruises of the world arrive, take the federal highway 307 (It is the same ONE that connects you with the resorts all the way down to the lagoon of Bacalar and Chetumal) and drive south until you get to a small town call Limones. A couple of kilometers ahead you will see a roundabout call Cafetales. That’s the entrance to Mahahual. Drive down for about 45 minutes in a straight line, through the protected area of the Biosphere Sian Ka’an (“where the sky meets the earth” in Mayan language). The road ends exactly on the beach, right next to the lighthouse were the marine soldiers are. From there you will see the cruises.

Mahahual develops in the middle of an extended area between two important bays (‘Bahia del Espíritu Santo’ to the north and ‘Bahia de Chetumal’ to the south). We drove north were the beaches are pretty much virgins, you don’t see a soul on weekends and the resorts are not “All Inclusive”,but beach clubs with water activities, like snorkeling OR scuba diving in the second larger reef in the world almost untouched by human hands. The wildlife is alive. Butterflies full of colors, singing birds, palms and trees exploding with different greens with all kind of shapes and sizes.

“El Placer” is one of those beach resorts where the adventurer can spend the day without being interrupted all day long with beach vendors and experience “heavens on earth”.

We stopped there for a couple of hours, and we immediately jumped into the water with our masks. After snorkeling for a little while we found a sinkhole (underwater hole that connects the fresh water of a ‘cenote’ with the sea), and right next to the hole, three big starfishes lying in the sand. It’s amazing to see these beautiful creatures, they look like a piece of rock but they are alive; they feel, move, breath and when I was there, floating and holding one in my hand, and looking how it opens and closes its little mouth, I thought how sad is to look at the dead stars pilled one on top of the others in the markets where the tourists buy their souvenirs. They are sold for two bucks. Anyone can have one. If you buy ONE you are being part of that predator system that is killing the reefs.

The point is that we are turning a beautiful being into merchandise for a profit. We are altering one of the most important and fragile ecosystems of the world.

In order to help survive thousands of species of fishes, sea plants, and corals we need to create a conscience of oneness. Everything is interconnected.  Every time you go snorkeling don’t step on the corals, don’t get anything from the waters just because you think your kid is going to like it. You are destroying, killing, changing something that is there for you to see and enjoy in the water, not outside it.

We came back before sunset. We were really tired. I felt like I had ran a triathlon. I was as red as a shrimp and I had a really strong headache after so many hours of being exposed to the sun. But the experience was amazing, everything was perfect.
I had a really great time with a beautiful group of people from different parts of Mother Earth. I grew up. Thank you Mahahual, thank you Mexico.

Thank you guys.

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