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PRESS RELEASE
Press Release: New Destination for Senior and Disabled Group Travel
New eco-conscious expeditions in the Mexican Caribbean launched to provide alternative for seniors and disabled.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico, 12 Sept 2008   Project Mayan Encounter launches expeditions in the Riviera Maya that combine nature with cultural experience.  Tours are geared towards small groups, but individuals are welcome, too.
The idea is to bring the beauty of this geographical location and its rich culture to the so-called baby boom generation, senior citizens, and people with disabilities, as well as anyone who chooses to explore fauna, flora, culture and the region’s archaeological wealth at a relaxed pace.   Most tour operators are forced to work within a tight rotation schedule, while those that have an environmentally and socially conscious focus oftentimes specialize in physical activities and adventure.  
A forum has been opened to serve as a knowledge base for vacationers and trip planners, such as senior or disability organizations and agencies, group travel agents or any eco-conscious individual, to pick from a variety of activities and design their perfect “à-la-carte” travel experience.
Behind the project stands Stefanie Baeker, a German native from the North Sea coast, where green tourism prevails.  Her understanding of tourism, coupled with her association with an online portal for low vision and blindness resources since early 2004, as well as her interest in Mayan history and the local biosphere reserves, have sparked the idea for Project Mayan Encounter.  She has lived in the Riviera Maya for 5 years.

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bird2Bird Watching  The winter months are usually best for bird watching in the Sian Ka’an biosphere, although there are still a gazillion of tropical birds to see year round.  We take you out on a boat ride in the lagoon and you get to float in the crystal clear and cool canals, the ancient trade ways of the Mayans.  The price inclusive guided roundtrip transfer from and to Playa del Carmen is $128 per person, and comes down if you are a small group.  Please let us know if we need to make any accessibility preparations to ensure that this will be a special day for you: info at accessecotours.com 

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 Medicinal Plant Workshops  Together with some ’alchemists’ in the Mayan communities we are offering plant workshops to show you the benefits and use of medicinal plants for alternative healing.  Bring your list of questions!

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 Tulum Green House Tours If you are interested in ecologically intelligent construction join Tamara for a house-tour.  This will be an interesting alternative while visiting Tulum, and you may find some inspiration for environmentally beneficial modifications of you own home, or even decide to move here and build your eco-house!  Look at wind and solar energy, green building material, compost toilets, natural irrigation systems, recycling, permaculture etc.  Tamara also sells biodegradable house cleaners and cosmetics.  Email us at info @ accessecotours.com to set you up, or call Tamara directly if you are already in Tulum: 984-135-3773.  Tours are ongoing and the cost is 200 pesos (aprx $20).  

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Braille printer delivery July 2009Blind School in Playa del Carmen  Further developments of the blind school in Playa del Carmen: The Braille printer that ViewPlus has generously donated was delivered to DIF (Family Development Agency), specifically to Juan Simon, the Braille instructor, on  August 28, 2009.  See pictures on Facebook. This would not have been possible without the equally generous help of “Scottie”, my fellow volunteer at the diabetes program at Angel Notion, who donated the shipping costs.  The next step is to get warm with using the printer.
More exciting news is that HumanWare, one of the largest manufacturers of assistive technology for the vision impaired, is going to help with slates, styluses and other voice-output technology.
We are always grateful for any help in form of computers, audio or large print books, Braille paper, note takers, talking watches or calculators, canes, abacuses, headphones, speakers, manual or e-magnifiers, talking dictionaries and cell phones, curriculum and lesson plans in Spanish or English. 
Please email me at info @ accessecotours.com or stef @ ocusource.com to arrange things—whether you are coming down yourself, send small stuff through someone you know is coming down, or send a shipment.  Or call Juan Simon on his cell phone in Mexico: +52(1)984-137-3063 or at his desk: +52-984-877-3037.  Donations can be tax write-offs.

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Green Expo Tulum 2009  Tulum is the eco-pearl of the Riviera Maya, where sustainable living is written in capitals.  Besides eco-conscious locals, tourists and investors develop an ever growing interest in this area.  The entire “hotel zone” (they are actually neat cabana-style eco lodges, appealing to various budgets) generates electricity with solar and wind energy.  The 2nd Green Expo Tulum is a two-day event, where ecologically-minded businesses from across the country meet to show new and trusted technologies for sustainable living and environmental protection.  If you happen to be in the area, visit on Friday, Aug 7 and Saturday, Aug 8.  In the name of Project Mayan Encounter I am going to speak on eco tourism and the integration of disabled & senior travelers on Saturday at 10.00 am.

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Swimming with Whale Sharks  These peaceful  ocean creatures reach a length of about 12 meters (40ft) and are one of the largest living fish species.  They can weigh up to 15 tons.  Experience coming eye to eye with these giant vegetarians when they pass the north tip of the Yucatan Peninsula between June and August.   I went to their feeding spots with Ocean Tours on May 26th and got to swim with some of them already—what a trip!   But that’s not all: we passed by Isla Contoy, an uninhabited bird sanctuary, and did some snorkeling at the reef near Isla Mujeres, where we saw many other marine species under & above the water level. 

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Kohunlich Ruins in Southern Mexico  Coming back from an awesome trip to the Kohunlich ruins and Bacalar lagoon.  View photos on Facebook! 

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XCACEL TURTLE SANCTUARY needs serious help!  In a nutshell, some business heads are trying to build a hotel and mess up the ecosystem.  Mangrove Action Project has information in English.  The Riviera Maya is one of the world’s most desirable vacation destinations, in particular because of its beautiful marine life, and therefore is a very valuable area for the Mexican economy.  So your signature can make a difference! 

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Finding Your Purpose with Astrology   Those who know me are aware of my deep interest in the cosmic laws.  In the fall 2009 I have created pages with some basic factors of astrology for people who are curious about themselves.  With your exact birth time and place, get a birth chart somewhere online (there are a gazillion of sites offering them for free—I personally like Astrodienst.com).  This is a very rough guide only, but you’ll get a glance of what’s up for you this lifetime.  Have fun exploring yourself! 

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 Guide Published: Open Britain   Tourism for All & Radar in the UK have partnered-up and published a new guide on accessible tourism.  Click here to read the press release on their site. 
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Accessible Diving  We want to invite Veterans and anyone with mobility impairments to join us on a dive trip to sites at the Pacific coast, Hawaii, or around Cozumel Island in Mexico.   Please email us about dates, details and prices. 

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 BotaniK: Biodegradable Sun Block, After-Sun Balm & Mosquito Repellent—Made in Mexico I met the producer mosquito_repellentat the Think Green Expo 2008.  Their organic line is free of paraben, petroleum derivates, preservatives, synthetic colorants or sodium lauryl sulfate.  Not quite sure whether you can eat it, but for sure this is organic stuff!  Products are good for approximately six months. The 100 ml (3.5 oz) bottle is sold at $8.95 plus shipping & handling, if applicable.  I am offering these  to my travelers now.  The producers don’t have a website yet, but please email me if you are interested in the ‘traveler line’, or any other cosmetics (for face, hair, body, baby, hands, or feet).  

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web by michi   Ich möchte diese wunderbare Webseite mit allen teilen, die der deutschen Sprache mächtig sind, und sich sowohl fuer Natur & Umweltschutz, als auch für effiziente Webpräsenz interessieren.  Die Verfasserin –ich habe das Glück, sie persönlich zu kennen— spricht damit zwei der aktuellsten Themen unserer Zeit an.  Mir gefällt, wie klar und kompetent der Inhalt gestaltet ist, und freue mich schon auf Updates.   Bremerhaven ist auch mein ‘Heimathafen’, und ich glaube, dass Michi den ein oder anderen Leser zu einem Trip an die herrlich frische Nordseeküste inspiriert! 

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 Nature & Culture Trips in the San Francisco Bay Area Learn about the Miwok tribes, and regional fauna and flora.  Check out the summer program  and feel free to email with special requests!

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RiverSea Getaway This is a red-hot insider tip for a quick escape from urban turbulence, any time of the year!  Visit Kathy & Jim in their beautiful Bed & Breakfast lodge in Guerneville, CA.   A creek runs along the property, the  Russian River is just a short walk away, and the Wine County, Pacific ocean, and Redwood forests are just a few minutes away by car.  You can even help in the organic garden, if you feel like!   Follow the link below for contact info.  Just a warning: it’s really hard to leave! 


 I CAN TRAVEL—a great new resource which has been pointed out by one of my clients.  We have decided on a 10% discount on the basic Caribbean itineraries for I CAN TRAVEL members.  Check out the blog. 

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Kayab Naturaterapia Sabina guides you through the process of creating metabolic balance in your system.  This could be a very nice reason to visit the Riviera Maya!  Get inspired through a visit to her website.

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Successfully passed NCGR-PAA Level 1 Exam 
I'm happy to announce that since Sept 30, 2010, I hold the level 1 NCGR-PAA Certificate (National Council for Geocosmic Research - Professional Astrologer Alliance).  Great, my brain is never running out of space!

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Holiday Special  Until the end of 2010 I serve my purpose by giving away Cosmic Snapshots - that means we take a 15min quick glance at your birth chart and its most significant indicators.  With this I want to inspire those who are not yet used to working with planetary energies and natural laws.  Email me with your exact time and place of birth.

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Mayan Artwork 
MayanNaturalJewelryMy Mayan friend Antonia and her family create some remarkably beautiful artwork. Besides this very neat natural jewelry – all made with material that Mother Nature provides – they produce some very fine honey and honey products, as well as natural charcoal.  Turning this into a commercial business would take away its uniqueness, but I’d like to encourage travelers who join me on a trip to the ancient city of Coba, or my website visitors who like the style, to get in touch with me so that I can intervene in purchasing a few handcrafted pieces.  Bracelets, necklaces or key chains start as low as 25 pesos (approx. $2.50).  Over the years I have become someone who prefers introspection during the ‘Holidays’, rather than extroversion in form of parties and shopping frenzies – so to me this seems as a very meaningful way to give.

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Astrología Para La Paz Interior  Al fin se realizo la expo Think Green 2011 en Playa del Carmen, y como había prometido a varias personas, comparto el folleto de mi pequeña plática en esta página.


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Summer in the San Francisco Bay Area Experience the Pacific seashore, majestic Redwood forests, Native American heritage, mineral & mud baths, sustainable farming and winemaking, or kayak in the San Francisco Bay. These tours officially run from May to October and can be conducted in German, English, Spanish or French.  As always, we adapt to accommodate travelers with special needs and we welcome seniors.  Find details on the Tours & Prices page!

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Nutrition for Mind & Soul  Founder of the movement Raising Love Consciousness, Kashonia Carnegie, has invested quite some time and effort to make the past 50 interviews available that she conducted over the recent years, including the one with Project Mayan Encounter founder, aka myself. All of Kashonia's interviews touch on a variety of timely relevant topics, such as crop circles; cosmic sciences; Hopi, Maya and Inca wisdom; psychology; sustainability; natural health; socio-economic and ecological matters, etc. This has really turned into a wealth of useful information, and for a donation, you can download any of the interviews instantly.

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Take Good Care of Yourself!  Not even officially launched yet, and already a best seller at Amazon: Cultivating Radiance by Tamara Gerlach.  Tam's book landed among the top 100 in the category Happiness... must I say more?  

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Breaking Barriers in the Riviera Maya   Project Mayan Encounter is now collaborating with AdaptA Accessible Travel in the Riviera Maya!  We are joining forces to become a substantial resource for travelers with physical limitations, who want to experience this beautiful spot on Earth. Respecting local fauna, flora and communities, we want to help create wellbeing and healing by bringing people out to the Caribbean Sea, white sand beaches, the Meso-American Barrier Reef, the unique underground river system, tropical jungle and mangrove zones with all its inhabitants, and of course the mystic Mayan temples. Adapta provides advanced technical equipment, such as amphibia and beach wheelchars, accessible vans, etc., so that we can move about the "Mayan Backroads" with more ease. The summer months are perfect for swimming with whale sharks (June to August), and the winter months are particularly good for bird watching (November to April).  The official rain season is from June to end October, and that's when airfaire drops.  Tours can be conducted in Spanish, English, German or French. Check out the links in the left panel for travel resources, or email us about details - we are happy to assist in putting a package together! 
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Bringing Down Prices for SF Bay Area Trips

Because of mini groups with budget restraints, that are interested in a certain tour, we have started operating mixed, open tours. That way we can break down the costs over a larger number of heads. People of all ages and abilities are welcome.  Our next open field trip will take us to the 31st Annual Big Time Festival at Kule Loklo, a Coast Miwok Cultural Exhibit which is located at the Point Reyes National Seashore. Besides seeing presenters in action in basketry, flint knapping, clamshell bead making, we learn more about the culture and traditions of the Coast Miwok and other local American Indians at a variety of informational booths. Traditional dancers from the Intertribal Pomo group and Dry Creek Pomo will perform. Vendors will also be selling a wide variety of crafts.

 

Please join us for a family-friendly excursion on Saturday, July 16, 2011 between 10 am to 4 pm. This organized tour starts at $62 per person, based on a maximum occupancy of 15 participants, and includes roundtrip transportation from/to the East Bay (most convenient location to be determined), bridge toll, snacks, soft drinks, and a picknic lunch.

 

Please get in touch to reserve your spot quickly, so that we can plan the logistics.

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Riviera Maya August 2011  I will be in the Riviera Maya myself from July 29 to Aug 16 to lead some tours. These dates are already booked: Aug 1, 4, 6, 9 and maybe 11.  If you feel like experiencing Mayan temples and culture, tropical fauna & flora, sweet water pools, great food, warm weather and the barrier reef, get in touch with us.  This time we get to use sophisticated assistive technology - so if you encounter mobility limitations: Welcome!  Tours can be conducted in Deutsch, Español, Français and English.
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Joining Forces with AdaptA Maya   
I have just published 3 photo albums and 2 videos on our Facebook page (you will need to be signed in to view) from the most recent trips that I have led in collaboration with AdaptA Maya, an agency specialized in equipment rental and tourism for travelers who face physical limitations. I have met with part of their team in the Riviera Maya to open this new relationship, and using their assistive technology was a huge help. The founder of AdaptA is an architect, specialized in making buildings accessible.

beach_wheelchairscooter_in_Chichen_Itzaloading_scooter

 







With a fully accessible van, we picked up our traveling couple from Germany at the Cancun airport and brought them to the hotel for a walk-through and introduction. They had a day to relax before our private escorted tours.

 

Our first trip took us to a destination that I do not typically have on my plan: the Xcaret theme park. It’s said to be the most popular park in Mexico, and visitors come from across the world - even during low season. The park is very accessible and we saw about 10 other wheelchair users that day. Our travelers took advantage of AdaptA’s special offer of $250 for a beach wheelchair and an electric scooter for their entire stay of 2 weeks in the Barceló Costa Cancun.

 

A few days later, we took a tour to Chichen Itza.  Our traveler was using the scooter, which came in handy because of its wide wheels. I had previously used regular wheelchairs only, and the thinner wheels are more delicate with the little pebble stones and roots.  We had a late lunch at the palapa restaurant in the garden of the Mayaland hotel, adjacent to the Chichen Itza site.

 

Since they wanted to swim with the whale sharks as they are migrating at the north tip of the Yucatan peninsula from June to August, I set our travelers up for an extra tour. This time they took the beach wheel chair, and the day turned out perfectly - even though this van was a regular vehicle and the group was not private.  Before joining forces with AdaptA, there was much more improvising necessary - although I can proudly say that everyone I have worked with has been very supportive in accommodating my special travelers. It is a nice contrast to notice the comfort of using AdaptA’s advanced equipment.

 

Our last planned trip was a combination of visiting the archaeological site in Tulum in the morning (wait for icons to load, then click on city, then click tab for English), and the XelHa aquatic park in the afternoon. The nice thing about Xcaret and XelHa is that they are well prepared for wheelchair users – that includes restaurants, bathrooms, super helpful staff, and the majority of their facilities. In XelHa, we were given a special map with routes for wheelchair users.  We took the ‘train’ to the entrance of the underground river, and transferred our traveler from her scooter onto a floating tube to enter the water.  Then she slipped out and just floated in her life vest, as she did in the underground river in Xcaret before. Even though there is a hydraulic chair installed, we exited at a different location and transferred to the scooter again.  For about $18 - $20 per day, visitors can rent beach wheelchairs in XelHa also, but it makes more sense to rent one from AdaptA, because you can use it at the beach of your hotel during your entire stay.

 

Since the Riviera Maya is an important region for generating income through tourism, a lot is being done to accommodate mature travelers and those with special needs, who prefer a different pace than the ‘Spring Breakers’.  My goal is lend a hand to those who need, so that they can experience the beauty of the Yucatan peninsula, while blending in respectfully with the environment - preserving local fauna, flora and communities. 

 

Private, escorted, and accessible tours are available to the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve by boat, canoe or kayak; Chichen Itza and Tulum archaeological sites, Muyil temples and lagoon, Mayan villages, and now the Xcaret and XelHa parks. All tours can be conducted in German, Spanish, English and French.  Most all-inclusive resorts throughout the Riviera Maya are well accessible, but for those who like to travel individually, we have selected some small hotels, pensions and eco-lodges in Playa del Carmen and Bacalar that are accessible; including one for Germans who don’t speak Spanish or English.

 

Please email us for accessibility details, or to reserve your scooter, wheelchair, cane, walker, TTY kit, or any other assistive technology.

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We recently went on tour with our oldest traveler so far: a 90 (!) year old biologist and former college professor, eager to study the ecosystem of the Yucatan peninsula and learn about the Mayan culture. He and his 60-year-old daughter came to visit for a week. 
The independent, appreciative and open-minded person that he is, our mature adventurer has been an incredible inspiration for everyone we met along the way - including me!  
Has he not only handled the email communication, itinerary adjustment and trip booking during the months prior to the trip - but also challenged himself with some pioneer activities: for the first time he used an electric scooter, and sat in a kayak!  Meeting him reminded me that an optimistic mindset and a self-confident attitude towards life promote longevity and health.
See pictures of the tour on our Facebook page.



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TOUR REVIEW:  RaiateaMastI have just tested a new tour for my travelers: Check out pictures on our Facebook page. This tour consists of a ride from Puerto Aventuras to Tulum on the Raiatea, the largest catamaran in the Caribbean, a well as a snorkel part, and a visit of the archaeological site in Tulum.  This tour is partly accessible to travelers using a small folding wheelchair, and who are ready to lower themselves down into the opening slot to the toilet. Sounds brutal, but it's not. There is one toilet each for women and men, and the openings are about 80 x 80 cm wide (30 x 30 inch).  There is a ladder (ca. 1.5 m, or 5 ft), and the wheelchair could be brought down first, and then the person would be helped down to transfer her/himself to the restroom.  The way up involves manpower also, and staff is super helpful.  Wheelchair users take the catamaran back to Puerto Aventuras, while others visit the Tulum ruins and ride back in airconditioned vans.  Sometimes people opt to skip the Tulum site, because they prefer to be on the water, or because they have visited the site previously.  However, guide Erick impressed even me with his unique, well-researched and passionate interpretation of the site and the Mayan culture in general.  And I have been visiting Tulum since 2003!  The tour includes an open bar, delicious home-made ceviche (fresh, marinated fish with tomatos, onions, lime and cilantro), guacamole, chips, salad, pasta and sandwiches; as well as snorkel gear and roundtrip transportation. For US$ 115 per person you are on board - just email us to reserve.

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La Noche del Jaguar
(Night of the Jaguar)              
Event Flyer (PDF)

AncestralDancePoster

Project Mayan Encounter is delighted to announce this Ancestral Dance performance that is now open to the public. Art teacher Zita Vargas created this beautiful choreography, which takes place on a jungle stage in the small sustainable community Sac Be, just north of Playa del Carmen.  By choice, she and her family actually live with candle light only, and without any electricity. 

La Noche del Jaguar represents highlights of Mayan culture, and two icons of serious, ancestral dance (one of them a former archaeologist), who have been dancing ritually for over 2 decades, and who have traveled and lived abroad to share their culture, are part of the ensemble. Zita's husband Eric is the Chilam Balam, the storyteller who guides the audience through the performance. The jungle auditorium holds about 150 visitors and transportation from and to the hotels will be provided.

The event starts at 7 pm with a reception, an offering of local foods to the guests, and a short walk around the auditorium and by the cenote.  The dance performance runs from 8:30 - 9:30 pm, then guests will be brought back to their hotel or home.  

We see this as a meaningful alternative to mainstream entertainment for incentive travel agencies - or any larger group - and a timely response for those who seek to quench their curiosity about the 2012 phenomenon and the message of the ancient Maya. 

Tickets are $137 for groups of 20 and up; and local roundtrip transportation is $15. Wheelchair users just skip the walk, but can view the show from the top level.  It cannot hurt to bring a towel or small cushion to sit on. 

To book a date or inquire about exclusive groups of less than 20 visitors, please send us an email

Stage

 

                                                             
















                                                       

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First Degree Reiki Retreat 
on Mayan Territory
BeachPDCYogaStudioP-SuukMuyilMangroveWalk






Join Reiki Master Margarita Camarena & Project Mayan Encounter for an
8-day Retreat in Playa del Carmen.  Dates: Wednesday, July 18 - 25, 2012. The complete package for people from the San Francisco Bay Area is $2,500 per person.  This includes economy airfare, roundtrip airport shuttle at destination, 7 nights in a boutique hotel in Playa del Carmen, breakfast/lunch, 2 guided eco tours, entrances.  To secure the airfare, we need a deposit of $800 by June 1, 2012

 

 
Local residents are welcome to join only the class and certification for $325 per person. Reserve your spot with a $50 deposit by July 12, 2012.



About Margarita: 
MargaritaHeadshotMargarita Camarena is a graduate of the SF School
of Massage and Bodywork. She became Reiki MasterTeacher under RMT Dr. Eric Rubin. In 1996, she graduated from the Berkeley Psychic Institute and two years later she completed her B.A. and B.S. at UC Davis in the felds of Art Studio and Environmental Design. Bodywork and Reiki has become a natural extension of the work she has been doing over the years working with color, energy, spirit and creative visualization.

Find details on our event flyers:

Californians
Quintanarooenses

Feel absolutely free to contact Margarita or myself for additional information! 

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What a Journey!

Temazcal

Our first Reiki Retreat was amazing - thanks to everyone who contributed to making it such a joyful experience! We were a cozy group of 5 students - a mixture of San Franciscans and locals from Playa del Carmen.



We launched the class at the New Moon with a visit to Coba and a temazcal (sweat lodge) ceremony in the Mayan community Tres Reyes.


After 3 days of Reiki Level 1 class we took a boat ride in the Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve.  Aside from the official itinerary, we had a quick escape to the beach in Xpu-Ha and a visit to Tulum.

Everyone took home their Reiki 1 Certificate, lots of great memories and new impressions – ready for new beginnings.

We are already excited to prepare Reiki 2 and another Reiki 1 class for either early November 2012 or the second week of January 2013, depending participants’ availability.  The waiting lists are open, so please email Margarita or myself with your preferred timeline.  We have posted some photos on the Project Mayan Encounter Facebook page to give you an inspiration.

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The Mayan Community of El Naranjal


In May 2012, my path has crossed with that of Don Pedro Cupul, the commissary of a small Mayan community located at the bottom of a dead end road in the northern Yucatan peninsula.  I was investigating an ecotourism project called “Puerta Verde” (Green Door) when a journalist in Kantunikil picked up what I was up to and connected me with Don Pedro. 

DonPedrolowresDon Pedro and his community invited me to a board meeting, and we agreed on collaborating in bringing visitors to their village of El Naranjal,  precisely visitors who are looking for an authentic experience of this part of the Mayan world.  Besides being surrounded by lush jungle with impressive old and tall trees, they are blessed with a gorgeous cave cenote and an archaeological site.  Don Pedro took office as the commissary in May 2012, and already after a few months he had the archaeological site officially inaugurated by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, and got approval for government support starting in 2013 for developing El Naranjal as an ecotourism destination.    He grew up in El Naranjal, and it has been his long-time dream to establish ecotourism in his village.  When he speaks in front of the group you can almost see him glow with enthusiasm.
 
cenoteElNaranjallowresAll community members are working on a volunteer basis to prepare the village for visitors.  One woman runs a nursery that also gets some government support in that they purchase plants from the nursery on a regular basis.  But they also sell to regular clients.  The men have been working hard to control the weeds in the temples, widen the cave entrance and build a walking path down to the underground water.   All work is being done by hand, since using dynamite would cause the cave roof to collapse and fill in the cenote.  Since nobody gets paid, everyone is eager to receive visitors and generate income with soft tourism.   The idea is to open the cenote and underground river to the public, lead guided cave hikes, educational jungle hikes, and tours of the old temples as well as the nursery with explanations about medical plants.  The ruins can be visited by tricycle to include wheelchair users.   The village has an eatery with healthy homemade food, and local arts & craft for sale – hammocks, broidered napkins and dresses (huipiles), wood carvings, etc.
 
While Project Mayan Encounter organizes (adapted) logistics and offers guided tours in German, English, Spanish and French, everyone is welcome to visit on their own.   To get there, take an ADO bus or colectivo to Ignacio Zaragoza (referred to as “Kilometro 80”), which is located on the freeway Cancun – Valladolid, and a taxi from the taxi station at the park (refer to police module).   It may be a good idea to announce your visit with a text message or call to Don Pedro Cupul: 984-132-1322.  Or email us.


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March 2013 Update

Insiders know that my internet time has been very limited since I started building a jungle dwelling on the Ruta de Cenotes in south-east Mexico right after our Reiki Retreat in July 2012. That said, it has been very quiet at this end, and I feel that I have to share the scoop with my new website visitors so that they don't think that Project Mayan Encounter has been abandoned.  I have to say though, that trying my talent as a construction worker and cultivating a fruit and veggie garden has been most fulfilling. It would have been impossible without my Mayan friends in the community.  The house is located in a remote rural area, and there is still much work to do. I miss my astrological research online, spontaneous Skype calls to my family and friends abroad, and the ease of quick research in designing tour itineraries for my travelers - but in the end, living offline is not that bad at all, and thanks to the library in Puerto Morelos I have a temporary office where I can work without limitation.  I'm (still) in the process of setting up a home internet connection, and with that I can report news from Mayan territories more frequently. 

For a quick recap, I had my 70-year old father and my brother staying with me over Christmas and New Year, and they got the "whole enchilada" with pumping water by hand, pouring a cement foundation, forest work, bureaucratic challenges, dealing with alacranes (black scorpions), snakes and tarantulas.  They were in the Mayan groove as they left - including voluntary treatments from our local curadora, a Mayan healer who somewhat works with chiropractic skills, using medicinal plants and spiritual laws.

Then my friend Connie came for her Honeymoon. She stayed at a charming vacation rental in Soliman Bay north of Tulum. One day tour took us to Xcacel beach and the adjacent cenote - a marine turtle sanctuary.  The other experience was a rustic barbecue in the jungle.

The next travelers were a couple from Switzerland. As a result from a motorcycle accident 5 years ago he was sitting in a wheelchair. She was able to walk after her rehab therapy, but shows some impressive scars still. They booked through my associates AdaptA, where I rent my assistive technology for handicapped travelers (e-scooters, beach wheelchairs).  These two were a little more adventurous than my average wheelchair travelers so far, and one of our tours took us to Isla Mujeres for a boat ride around the island.  From their hotel in Cancun, they went to Isla Mujeres on their own before, and they liked the Island so much that they wanted to go again.  The idea this time was to see birds, ocean creatures and Joysxee Island, a sustainable housing project that is built on re-used plastic bottles, floating in the lagoon of Isla Mujeres.  We set the date, but what we didn't know is that the sky opened up as we arrived the Isla Mujeres ferry pier, and rain god Chaac poured buckets of water on us!  Nevertheless we went ahead, and had the crew lift my traveler in his wheelchair onto the motor boat.  We wore plastic bags and a rain coat, but the tropical rain soaked us and hit us in the face - so hard that we had trouble seeing anything else than water.  The ocean was warm and the water looked nice and turquoise though.  The water surface wasn't even that rough, rather smooth, but the strong wind made us wish for better times.  Needless to say, we didn't snorkel, nor see the underwater exhibition at the Garrafon reef.  By the time we entered the interior lagoon, the rain had stopped.  We looked at Joysxee Island from the water, and then had fresh barbequed fish for lunch.  Ironically, the sun came out.  What I really liked is that the two of them kept an optimistic attitude all along, maintaining their humor and cheerful spirit.  We couldn't switch off the rain anyway, so why making our day miserable -  and we have a fun story to share now!  We had a tour to Chichen Itza also, and a visit to our community healer, to re-adjust bones, bladder and muscle strings that had be dislocated in the traumatic accident 5 years ago.  That alone will not make my traveler walk again - the most important part is his own will and diligent exercising.  They stopped by my house here in the subtropical rainforest before heading back home.

The most recent travelers were a meanwhile 91-year old biology professor from Michigan and his 66-year old daughter.  They had visited in February 2012, so this was their 2nd visit to this area.  This time, "Don Enrique", how I call him, was less mobile though, and we spend the greater part of our 6-day tour at the Rancho Encantado in beautiful Bacalar.  The original owner of this cozy eco-resort was mobility-impaired himself, and the entire site is equipped with a nice path where Don Enrique could move about with the e-scooter we rented for his stay.  At least 2 cabanas are wheelchair accessible.  Don Enrique's daughter and I went on some excursions by ourselves, while he relaxed at the resort.  We had one intense day of anthropology, where we visited Kohunlich, Dzibanche and Kininchna.  Another day we had a spectacular sunset boat ride to the inner part of the Bacalar lagoon.  The last excursion we did together: we visited the relatively accessible Museum of Mayan Culture in Chetumal.  The parts that are not accessible by wheelchair (at this point) are the bathroom (has one step) and the Xibalba, the Mayan Underworld (has a whole flight of stairs down).

Find pictures and more on Project Mayan Encounter's Facebook page (use link in left panel).  I will continue with adding links and info in German shortly!

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New Event “Palapa” for Project Mayan Encounter

Together with my 5-Star Mayan construction team we have been building a 2nd floor on top of the house that we finished late summer 2012.  This is going to be a sacred space for retreats and workshops with a focus on healing, well-being and education.  The first booked event is a Reiki Retreat, co-created with a very dear, long-time friend from Germany.  More news to follow in a short while.  Other planned workshops are being given by Mayan botanists and healers, and there will also be nutritional counseling talks and cooking workshops for diabetic or overweight locals .  Here is a personal story to recap the progress:

The dust had just settled after the construction crew took off, and I had about 2 days to “venusify” my “martian” battlefield, until the next wave hit: a tropical storm that brought water masses of the amount that came down with hurricane Wilma in 2006, just without the wind.  At least that’s what I heard a few people say.  And thank God there was no wind, because I would have been washed down thoroughly.  It rained through the screen doors very bad, and the water advanced well into the ground level living area, because I haven’t made it a priority yet to install proper doors with a door step and top hood.  Good lesson!

Now I had the choice of being very frustrated, or find quick solutions to improve the situation as soon as I could.  I improvised with sticks, ropes, plastic tarps and other props, and when the rain stopped I drove to Puerto Morelos, the nearest village with stores, that is about a 20 minute drive from the house.  I gathered my material, checked emails at the library and drove back.  The most pressing tasks were to fix the roof of the brand new storage hut, drill drainage holes, paint the house from the outside with a waterproof product, and also fumigate the “virgin” straw roof covering the 2nd floor.  A thick layer of fungus had already covered everything that was of wood or straw, and there were water puddles on the floor of the downstairs part of the house.  The upstairs floor was about 1.5 inch under water and needed to be swept daily.   Especially the downstairs walls to the east and south, from where the rain came, had very bad water stains and it took several days for them to dry so that I could work on them.  The area where the house is located is considered subtropical rain forest, and during summer, the humidity level can rise to about 80%.  Occasionally mirrors get fogged up from evaporating steam! 

To test my skills in crisis management, I was sent on a hunt for one special accessory for the fumigator, and I was forced to deal with a tall, 10-12 inch thick tree that came down because it got eaten by termites from the bottom up.  All this was taking away from my precious time frame of dry days.  The tree leaned on a thinner tree with an inhabited bird nest and squeaked from time to time.  I could not jeopardize the birds’ lives, and also not take a risk to have the heavy tree crash on my well and water pump – the only drinking water source, because I live in a rural area without public water, sewage or telephone.  So first things first.

Per the weather channel I had a few more dry days to work off my list of improvements to make the house ready for the next downpour of rain. Clouds of mosquitos are indicating that there is more water to come – and we have just “officially” entered the raining season which typically lasts from June until November.  The plants are thriving in this weather, and I’m off the hook in regards to watering them on those rainy days.  Don’t get me wrong though, I deliberately moved to this remote, rural area about a year ago, to live with plants, and I am committed to supporting them in their growth.

Luckily, we always have nice stretches of sunny days during the raining season here in the Riviera Maya, to enjoy the beach – and in my case now – continue working on the house so that the upstairs palapa is ready to host retreats and workshops soon, and the house can be rented to travelers.

I’m glad that I got my list of improvements worked off substantially until today, when a noon shower forced me to call it a work day.  My bones appreciated the break and I’m eager to continue tomorrow, to complete the project by Full Moon on Sunday, June 23, 2013.

frontview

rearvew

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Reiki Retreat with Alex from Germany


Together with my long-term friend Alexandra Paul, we are creating an upcoming event that is especially interesting for those looking for spiritual or educational travel alternatives.  Alex is a yoga teacher and Reiki master and is visiting the Riviera Maya in November 2013.  We are combining a 3-day Reiki course (level 1 or 2, certified) with expeditions to the Mayan temples in Coba, the Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve, Isla Mujeres and a Temazcal sweat lodge ceremony.  This 9-day package also includes airport shuttle from and to Cancun airport, breakfasts/lunches, as well as 8 nights in a unique B&B in the jungle on the famous Cenotes Trail, where ancient Maya have cultivated chewing gum (chicle). The package price for international participants is $2806 for Level and $3426 for Level 2.  


Like last year's retreat with Reiki Master Margarita Camarena, we welcome local "Quintanarooenses" to join the class part.  The temazcal is optional and participation can be paid directly to the ceremony master (300 pesos).  The class fee for locals is set with 3500 pesos for Level 1, resp. 7200 for Level 2; and includes 3 days of instruction, attunements and seals, certificate, materials, snack-lunch, water, plus this time a yoga session each day of class.


The class will be bilingual German-English, or German-Spanish, depending on how the class fills.

 

For more details and a timeline please have a look at our event flyer and feel free to email me with specific questions. You can also connect via our Facebook event.

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Beratung für barrierefreies Reisen

Hier möchte ich eine empfehlenswerte Internet-Adresse für deutschsprachige Urlauber mit körperlichen Herausforderungen teilen, über die ich gerade gestossen bin:  MeineBarrierefreiheit.de (s. auch Link-Liste oben links). 

Georg Paulick steht Ihnen mit Rat & Tat zur Seite, um Ihnen einen perfekten Urlaub zu gestalten.

georg_paulick  Seine Mission:
"Mein Ziel ist, die Touristikwirtschaft, öffentliche Träger und vor allem Privatpersonen hinsichtlich Barrierefreiheit zu beraten und zu unterstützen, um Menschen mit Mobilitätseinschränkungen das Reisen zu erleichtern. Behindert ist man nicht - Behindert wird man! Deshalb gilt es Barrieren abzubauen, statt wegzuschauen.“

Genial, oder?  
Ich sehe Sie dann hier in der Riviera Maya!

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Traveling at age 92

Project Mayan Encounter is specialized in eco-cultural tours that include mature travelers, and those with limited mobility or traveling in a wheelchair.  We collaborate with AdaptA in Cancun, where we rent beach wheelchairs and electric scooters. We encourage people to pull themselves out of their comfort zone in order to grow their self-confidence.

henry_in_restaurant2This February, “Don Enrique”, a retired biology professor from UC Michigan, has visited the Riviera Maya again.  Choosing Project Mayan Encounter, he and his daughter Susan have come to explore the Yucatan peninsula for the past 3 years.  Every year we are co-creating different activities, and the past 2 years we spent the week at the Rancho Encantado on the Bacalar lagoon entirely, with pit stops in Playa del Carmen and Felipe Carrillo Puerto.  The initial owner of the Rancho Encantado had limited mobility, and designed the hotel accordingly.  Southern Quintana Roo is still very quaint and authentic, and far less touristy than Cancun, Playa del Carmen or even Tulum.  It has much variety to offer, even for wheelchair travelers; like visiting the accessible Museum of Maya Culture (except the basement exhibition), eating at the famous Cenote Azul, enjoying boat or kayak rides, visiting the partly accessible Chacchoben ruins, etc.  Active travelers will find the archaeological sites in Kohunlich, Dzibanche highly interesting; or they can enjoy the Calakmul biosphere reserve.

Additionally to the walker that “Don Enrique” traveled with, we rented an electric scooter from AdaptA.  He preferred enjoying the lush tropical garden at the Rancho, and the well-deserved warmth (they live in Ann Arbor, MI); while I took his daughter on tours.

lunch_buffet_Chacchoben1Yolanda_and_Susan1the_artist_gang3




The first one was the “Chacchoben Pueblo Tour”, a customized visit of this Mayan Community with the most delicious food in a tropical garden, and 101-encounters with the top huipil-makers of the village, as my visiting friend is an avid sower and embroiderer.  Huipiles are the typical dresses that Maya women wear, with colorful embroidery around the neck and bottom.  Before leaving, she was handed a tortilla-wrapper that was offered to her for a minimal price before lunch, and handcrafted while we were eating.  We also got involved in tortilla making.

The next activity was a Temazcal ceremony at another resort, the Holistic Center Akal Ki.  The relatively young ceremony master was surprisingly versed, and completely dedicated to guiding us through the ceremony.  He took us on an inner journey!  After 3 “doors”, or sessions of pouring herbal tinctures on red hot lava stones in a closed igloo, like in a sauna, we took a dip in the lagoon – under the still full moon.

kayaking_Xul_Ha2The last tour leaves long-lasting memories.  We were picked up by a local nature guide from the Paay Bej organization, and she is quite a person!  We zig-zagged our way through the Bacalar marathon that was taking place that day, to fetch another couple who joined the Kayak & Jungle Walk tour, our tour guide charming her way through police barriers.   She shared a wealth of information about fauna and flora, and took us kayaking to a remote part of the lagoon with crystal clear water despite the muddy rest of the lagoon that was still recuperating its colors and clarity after the excessive rains.  Five coconut palms are growing on the Ruta de los Cenotes now - a donation from the place that we went to board the kayaks.  It’s a lovely place on the lagoon near Xul Ha, with rustic cabanas to rent.

“Don Enrique” has been an inspiration for many over the past 3 years, and has gained all the respect of the people who met him.  I was personally impressed by how he exchanged the tiny batteries of his hearing aid by himself.

The bottom line is that there is no limitation to creativity, age or mobility for people who would like to explore the Mayan culture “off the beaten path”.  Knowing that there are helping hands will hopefully encourage travelers to enjoy the beauty of this unique place on Earth.

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