I suppose being on quarantine makes me ponder life a bit more, long for family and friends, and accomplish a whole lot of tasks that have been left on the back burner. Finally, I have been able to write my blog recapping such an epic celebration which I organized to celebrate my 50th birthday with 32 friends and family members on a stunning Hacienda in Mexico’s Yucatan.
Lovely Hacienda Itzincab Cámara was built on an ancient Maya site and has a large pyramid at its heart. Itzincab’s lush gardens, featuring three swimming pools, surround the property and are home to abundant bird life. Thirteen bedrooms are located in the main house and various out buildings including the stables, chapel and old school house making this hacienda an ideal retreat for family reunions or celebrations. Especially period appropriate, is the Ancient Mayan pyramid adjacent to the main house. A full staff provide superb personalized service from housekeeping to bartending and expertly prepared meals.
The Opening night of our 4 day event, I hosted a welcome dinner – where I introduced all 32 of my guests to the other weekend guests in date chronology – whom I met the most recently, all the way to whom I have know the longest, my mother of course!
The next morning, some woke up early to explore the gorgeous Hacienda grounds and listen to the chorus of bird song –
The Hacienda has its very own pyramid – one morning the staff served surprise coffee up here for us – the view from the top is incredible and one can really imagine living in the Yucatan during the reign of the vibrant Mayan civilization and the Spanish conquest. The Spanish built their beautiful haciendas next to existing Mayan Pyramids so finding a combination such as this is not unusual.
Morning Yoga in the garden of the Hacienda –
The kids enjoyed checking out the hacienda pigs –
Another day, we enjoyed a private tour at Uxmal, the ruins of one of the most important ancient Mayan cities that continued to flourish as late as the post Classic Period (900-1500 AD).
Uxmal’s largest structure is famed for it’s elaborate Puuc-style architecture, whose principal buildings are aligned to observe astronomical events. We also visited the Pyramid of the Magician and the Palace of the Governor—two of the finest pre-Hispanic Mexican structures in existence—as well as the Nunnery Quadrangle and the House of the Turtles.
Our private guide is a renowned archeologist specializing in the the Mayan civilization –
Our day touring the ruins was followed by a surprise private lunch in the ruins of the cathedral located on Hacienda Xocbaceh –
At its zenith, Xocnaceh produced cattle and henequen, the “green gold” that brought tremendous wealth to the Yucatán in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (The Yucatan at the time was the largest producer of rope in the world.)
A delicious lunch is served in the chapel ruins at Xocnaceh, the local Mayan ladies prepared homemade tortillas –
After lunch we cooled off with a swim in the water tank, converted into a refreshing pool.
This evening was “The Birthday Party” – Laura celebrates 50!
After dinner cigars –
Private Visit to Xocempich Cenote – part of the many caves that make up the fresh under ground river system. It was so much fun to swim in the cold, crystal clear and very deep waters –
Lunch today is a delicious authentic country family style lunch is served beneath the magnificent old trees and featuring a traditional Mayan specialty, Cochinita Pibil.
Cochinita means baby pig, so true cochinita pibil involves roasting a whole suckling pig but can also be a pork shoulder marinated and braised in achiote paste, orange juice, and lime. The meat is then wrapped tightly in banana leaves before slow cooking in an underground fire pit. This local expert, showed us his handiwork as he removed it from the ground. Que rico!!
The hacienda is located just 45 minutes from Mérida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán boasting a rich Mayan and colonial heritage. The city’s focal point is Plaza de la Independencia, bordered by the fortresslike Mérida Cathedral and white limestone Iglesia de la Tercera Orden, both colonial-era churches built using relics from ancient Mayan temples.
This city portrays a considerable charm and buzz about it brought about by its contrasts: Mérida is cosmopolitan and quaint; Mexican, but with a strong Mayan influence everywhere you go.
Removed from the glitzy sunshine boulevards of Cancun (although the two are connected by a super highway), Mérida offers visitors a piece of authentic Mexico, while also keeping a unique flavor and style that is unmistakably Yucatecan.
Merida is distinct culturally and politically from the rest of Mexico. This is brought about, in part, through centuries of desire for political autonomy, driven by a Mayan inheritance which continues to influence the city, its inhabitants and environment.
Some guests decided to spend an afternoon exploring the city –
Each meal is a surprise. As guest wake up or get hungry for lunch or dress for dinner, they must then seek out where the wonderful hacienda staff has arranged our meal.
Another stunning dinner location – notice the rose petals strewn on the front stairs to the hacienda –
The staff awaits our arrival to a dramatic setting on the front drive way –
This was my favorite evening – so beautiful –
This is what happens after you party for four days straight in the Yucatan!
If you love the idea of exploring the Yucatan and taking over a private hacienda for your family or group of friends. Or if you prefer a smaller apartment in town, I can help you arrange a fabulous stay. Our local partner’s properties range from private haciendas, nestled in the jungle, to a secluded beach paradise, to colonial villas in the stunning town of Izamal. Each home has been meticulously restored, preserving its original charm while incorporating modern comforts and exquisite atmospheres. The curated properties have been chosen for their historical importance and extraordinary setting.
Resort to Laura Madrid works with an exceptional on-site team complimenting the experience of these homes, offering a wide range of adventures, expeditions, and experiences around the Mayan peninsula. These adventures include exploration of Archeological sites, Art and Nature, living the culture of the Mayan villages, exploring and diving in cenotes, Kite surfing, fishing, caves, markets… No one ever ceases to be enchanted with the adventures and rich explorations of the Mayan world – exotic yet so close to home! This is the perfect time to enjoy the slower life and I will be thrilled to help you arrange every detail!
At a time when nothing feels certain, writing about such a happy occasion and a magical place warms my soul. Wishing you and your family safety and sanity. We really are all in this together. Warmly, Laura Madrid