“You’re itinerary includes rappelling, zip-lining, kayaking, swimming in a cenote and climbing the tallest Mayan temple in the state.” When I received this email from the marketing staff at Casa Magna Marriott Cancun Resort, I felt a brief moment of baby boomer self-doubt. Climb Nohoch Muul’s 192 steps? I’m afraid of heights. Jump off a cliff from the end of a rope? I’ll be traveling solo in Mexico without Alan to gently coach me over the scary parts. What’s a travel writer who specializes in active travel for baby boomers to do? Go for it.
Along with writer Patty Hodapp (read her 21-year-old take on our adventure), I spent 12 hours on theCoba Maya Encounter Expedition ($119 U.S.) with Alltournative Offtrack Adventures. We joined a van filled with eight other clients—all Spanish speaking. However, Israel, our guide and driver, made the tedious task of communicating in two languages look easy.
The two-hour ride to the Yucatan Peninsula provided glimpses of poor, rural life in small villages with ramshackle housing, a stark contrast to the luxury resorts lining the beaches near Cancun. Topes, or speed-bumps, were effective in forcing traffic to slow down in each village, giving me the time to watch villagers buying breakfast at the corner food truck or glimpse a scrawny dog crossing a dirt side street.
More than an adventure travel company, Alltournative works with Mayan communities, assisting them with economic, social and cultural development. The result? An income source for Mayan residents that also helps them preserve their culture and environment.
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