Thanks to sheer luck and common sense, a big part of the Yucatan peninsula on the Mexico Caribbean coast is still covered by untouched jungle. Inside there is a hidden eco village Ik Balam. To get there, you need to know a secret gate on the roadside and the name of their guard. By saying his name you will gain the trust. And trust is the only key to open the gate...
The village is inhabited by a few self-sufficient families. They grow everything to survive and to prepare various eco products. In the middle of the village there is a big shed with a lot of hammocks. Once in the month eco market is organised for the like-minded people from the nearby Tulum town.The Yucatan peninsula once was a home for the Mayans and some of their ruins still stand on the Tulum beach. The only ruins that still exist from the Mayans are on the beach and not hidden in the jungle. This explains the magical place name given to the town. And I can only agree with it. The Caribbean Sea, natural beauty and tropical climate make people totally naked both literally and emotionally.
The village also has a school. It is attended by the kids from the eco village and the closest neighbourhoods. Pupils of different ages and two neighbour dogs sit in one room. The dogs come every morning to spend the day with the kids. When the day is over, they watch how parents help to clean school and then run back home. My 6 years old friend Canela goes to this school and lives in one of the most unusual house in the village. All you can see outside from the mosquito net covered windows is jungle. The house was built without any plan or draft. It required more than a year and help by 15 Mayans who knew, where to find natural materials. The base of the house is made of rocks found in the jungle and trees outrooted by hurricanes. The local eco technology master Pepe Blanco made self composting bathrooms and a bathhouse system. Electricity is provided by solar power and water comes from a borehole. The house has the name of a jaguar, because a big jaguar once came to mark his territory right next to the main entrance during the building process. Even now during the nights you can hear growling deep in the jungle.
Canela recently introduced me to her new friends from the town, who had joined her in the jungle school. Her friends were two little sisters, whose dad was listening to Canela’s stories about her unusual school and decided to act. He found Canela’s mom and told her his story: “I grew up in the jungle next to the Bacalar lagoon. I spent my days in nature all day long. I want my daughters to feel the same connection with nature, and not sit all day watching TV or with an Ipad in their hands. The fact, that I’m wearing a suit right now and work in the bank, doesn’t mean that I don’t remember where I come from.” And indeed, every time I return to the Jaguar house, I’m very happy about Canela’s childhood. She sees how in the life-death-life cycle a scorpion overpowers a tarantula and learns to respect the winner. She says a big thanks to the bees for honey and asks them not to sting. When I visited her the last time, I gave her a Latvian clay whistle. She woke me up with these sounds whistling on the roof at the height of the treetops. So we sat there in the sunrise – she imitated bird sounds and I looked at all the unbelievable colours in the bird feathers flying around us and trying to respond to Canela’s songs.Photo by Maris Lagzdins