The Mayan Ball Game

Xcaret – Mexico Espectacular

Between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico is the spectacular theme park of Xcaret. On one of your vacation’s evenings, plan to leave your suite and the luxurious peacefulness of Posada Yum Kin behind -just for a little while. Since the new highway has opened between Tulum and Cancun, the 35-mile drive to Xcaret is now just a short drive of about 35-40 minutes.

Costumes Mexican Dancers

Costumes Mexican Dancers

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One of the best activities to take in at Xcaret is their evening Mayan dance and musical show “Mexico Espectacular!” This nightly show presents over 300 artists and features the customs, dance, music and people of Mexico. Although a professionally developed show, it makes you feel like you are eavesdropping on a ceremonial festival from ancient Mayan times. The costuming, made up of traditional, hand-made dresses and ceremonial attire, is top-rate and breathtaking.

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Costumes Mexican Dancers

Costumes Mexican Dancers

The show is intermingled with the cultural story of Mayan and Mexican history. Traditional dances and musical performances, which appear intermittently throughout the giant arena, keep the audience spellbound. Mariachi music casts the final spell.

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To add flair and excitement, they play what first appear to be two versions of pre-Hispanic ball games. Historians believe that these were actually sacred ceremonies related to the cosmic order and astral sense, through which they could make the Sun victorious over the darkness and thus bring rain, benefit vegetation and fertility. Sounds a little more serious than your average ball game, right? Well, then there’s this. Historians cannot agree whether the winner or the loser was sacrificed. Some theorize that the winner was offered for his bravery and strength and the sacrifice itself was regarded as an honor.

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The Mayan Ball Game

The Mayan Ball Game

One of the ceremonies played out at Xcaret is commonly referred to as the Mayan Ball Game and the other one is a native game from the state of Michoacan. The rules of the Mayan Ball Game vary across Mesoamerica and are not completely known. It is believed that the object of the game was that teams were not to touch the ball with their hands and the first team to put the ball through the hoops won. Wikipedia says, “The rules of the ballgame are not known, but judging from its descendant, ball, they were probably similar to racquetball.[2] where the aim is to keep the ball in play. The stone ballcourt goals (circular disks placed along the sidewalls) are a late addition to the game. This later addition changed the game entirely though, since an immediate win could be attained from them by tossing the balls in the ring, or points could be scored by simply tossing the ball so that it touched the ring.[1]

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In the most widespread version of the game, the players struck the ball with their hips, although some versions allowed the use of forearms, rackets, bats, or handstones. The ball was made of solid rubber and weighed as much as 4 kg (9 lbs), and sizes differed greatly over time or according to the version played.

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The game had important ritual aspects, and major formal ballgames were held as ritual events, often featuring human sacrifice. The sport was also played casually for recreation by children and perhaps even women.”

The Birdman Mayan Pole Dance

The Birdman Mayan Pole Dance

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The evening has quite a few surprises and awestriking performances. Watch all around you as musicians and dancers suddenly appear where you least expected. Do not leave before the aerial ‘dance’, shown at left.

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Xcaret provides all day activities and is open from 8:30am to 9:30pm daily. Parking is free. The evening show begins at 7pm, lasts about 3 hours, and costs about $44, if purchased separately. See the concierge at Posada Yum Kin for details and tickets.

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Xcaret Mexico Espectacular Folk Dance

Xcaret Mexico Espectacular Folk Dance

Posada Yum Kin, with its multi-lingual staff, is an eco-friendly, 9-unit, boutique all suite hotel in Tulum, Mexico and features fully-equipped kitchens, a new pool and complimentary breakfasts. It possesses a ‘real Mexico’ atmosphere, but fully concentrates on luxury, while offering a little bit of condo convenience.