I love dreaming about the life I want, but living it? That’s another story. I'm afraid to fail. Terrified of it really. From changing majors in grad school to staying in an unhealthy relationship for way too long, the fear of failure has influenced so many decisions in my life. Now I'm facing yet another pivotal choice --to pursue traditional work related to my career or venture into entrepreneurship that feeds my soul--and I'm tired of being afraid or at least letting fear influence me. So earlier this month I flew out of Philadelphia with a one way ticket in an attempt to discover my courage and discover Central America. My first stop on this journey was Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico (I know, I know it's technically North America but humor me).
Vallodolid is a charming town 2 hours west of Cancun. Features of colonial style and Mayan culture are everywhere so think colorful buildings, rich textiles, and delicious food. Although Vallodolid is a great base to visit the world heritage site of Chichen itza or even the Instagram famous pink lakes of Las Coloradas, the breathtaking cenotes drew me here. This region has numerous fresh water sink holes that are now mostly recreational, but were historically used for practical and spiritual purposes. Cenotes are considered a source of life, renewal, and connection to the unknown.
Suytun Cenote was all of the above and more. Remember, I began this trip with desire to find my courage and as I spent nearly an hour here in solitude -- the perks of being one of the first arrivals of the day--I uncovered a bit of it. In the stillness of Suytun, before the tour buses appeared and with only the intermittent echo of flapping wings in the background, I began to untangle my worth from my performance. Could I have done this back at home in Philadelphia? Maybe. But 3000 miles away, in one of the most spectacular natural formations I have ever laid my eyes on, I believe the power of this place helped to facilitate this internal dialogue and ultimately a shift in my identity.
Interesting fact: Suytun is about 16 kilometers from the city proper. You can ride a bicycle there if you are very ambitious since the road turns into highway or you can simply secure a taxi. Make sure you head to Parque Santa Ana Vallalodid at the intersection of Calle 41 and Calle 34. Once there, ask someone for the blue taxis headed to "Tikuch" or "Chemax" and tell them you want to be dropped off at Suytun Cenote. Instead of paying $20 US or some ridiculous price, you'll pay 20 pesos instead. The taxi is collectivo style so others might come along for the ride but it is a great way to connect with locals and brush up on your Spanish. You'll be dropped off at the main entrance of the cenote from the highway. From the entrance, the ticket gate is only about a 5 minute walk away. Lastly, as of April 2018, it costs 70 or 75 pesos per person to access the site.
Valladolid, but more specifically Suytun, taught me a few beautiful lessons that I will carry with me for a lifetime. They include:
I am not a failure if I fail. I can choose to celebrate the effort, not only the outcome.
There is power in place. Make it your priority to visit destinations that transform you, Abena.
The earlier you arrive the more options you have.
PS. Sure I can travel the world solo, but I KNOW I can do that. The things that scare me involve challenges or opportunities that I'm not so confident I can see through to the end or complete "successfully." If failure wasn't an option what would I do? I envision myself owning a sustainable tourism company in Ghana that helps locals and foreigners fall in love with this amazing country one experience at a time. Stay tuned...
Meet Abena -- a girl desperate to find beauty in the world wherever life takes her. This is her journal of discoveries organized by location and featuring tripod iphonography.