yucatanThe Yucatan Peninsula is home to one of Earth’s greatest cataclysms. Sixty-five million years ago the Yucatan was visited by an asteroid or comet that many scientists believe destroyed up to 75% of all lifeforms (90% of plankton) and broke the Earth’s food chain (Adios Dinosaurs y Bienvenidos Mammals).

The Chicxulub (Devil’s Tail) Crater is located on the peninsula’s northern coast with the present day port of Progreso at “ground zero”.

More than 3,000 years ago, the Mayas emerged from the Yucatan (one of Earth’s 6 “Cradles of Civilization”) as a highly sophisticated culture; spreading south and west into Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador; leaving behind many famous archeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum.

Even before the Conquistadors’ first landfall off Cape Catoche in 1517 the Yucatan peninsula was a dark and savage battlefield.

Long isolated from the rest of Mexico and still one of the least Hispanicized (Mexicanized) populations in the country; the “Yucatecans” practice many of their ancient beliefs and language.

The region tried to secede from Mexico in the early 1840s, but the government easily (and harshly) quelled the rebellion.

Following years of oppression, the natives rose up and massacred thousands of European settlers. This launched the “War of the Castes”, that eventually wiped out half the Mayan population.

The capitol of the Yucatan is Merida, where Moorish-inspired, colonnaded colonial architecture, and cafe-life blend handsomely with turn-of-the-20th-century chewing-gum-baron pomposity.

yucatan mapWith the advent of Cancun, the peninsula’s Mayan ruins, long a mecca for archaeologists, have become a magnet to thousands of tourists annually.

The many direct airline flights to Cancun have brought these long-lost treasures within easy reach. Travelers from around the world can now marvel at one of the most brilliant civilizations of the ancient world without having to journey too far from their vacation base.

The peso devaluation in 1994 resulted in increased purchasing power for foreigners, who bought homes and hotels up and down the Riviera Maya, creating a diverse international population that lives alongside the original inhabitants.

Trekking along the coast, you’ll meet ex-pats from around the world running lodges, restaurants, dive shops, arts studios and e-commerce.

Back to the top of Yucatan.