The other México

In January 2012, Jack Dykinga, Alfredo Medina, and I will lead a Visionary Wild expedition for a small group of six photographers that will focus on photography of the cenotes of the Yucatán peninsula. These water-filled caverns and sinkholes are tremendously beautiful and mysterious, and exploring them is a mind-blowing adventure. We will also visit the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, and spend two days among the flamingo colonies, mangroves, and white sand beach at Celestún. You can read more about the workshop here: Yucatan Expedition

The Mexican state of Yucatán is distinct in many ways from the rest of the country. For those who are turned off by the over-development and tourist kitsch of Cancún in the neighboring state of Quintana Roo, Yucatán is authentic, safe, and welcoming. The horror stories in the media about crime and violence south of the U.S. border are not at all the case here (nor is it the case in many other parts of Mexico for that matter). The Yucatecan capital of Merida is a charming and historic city full of friendly people who are happy to help visitors, and the Maya people who inhabit the countryside are among the most hospitable and gracious folk you’ll ever meet.

Anecdotally, while I was attending the 9th World Wilderness Congress in Merida in November 2009, I accidentally left my wallet in a taxi. A pair of state police nearby noticed as I frantically searched my pockets and shoulder bag to no avail, and asked what had happened. The police immediately initiated a city-wide search for our cabbie. Back at our hotel, a crowd of police, cab drivers, and hotel staff on radios and cell phones were trying to track the guy down. About fifteen minutes later, he returned to the hotel. A passenger had found my wallet in the back seat and notified the driver. He was only too happy to return it, cash intact, and he wouldn’t accept a reward.

I look forward to going back to the Yucatán, and I hope that you will join us. – Justin Black