<3 Dios bo'otik! <3

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Quiero expresar mi más profundo agradecimiento a toda la gente en Tulum que me han ayudado creer mi tesis. La verdad es que ustedes son mis coautores.

Habéis regalado y continuar regalar mucho a mí. Nos hemos vuelto amigos y familia.

Me habéis dado memorias increíbles. Me habéis invitado a nuestros casas y nuestros vidas y en esta manera me habéis enseñado mucho sobre nuestros vidas pero sobre mí mismo también.

Me habéis enseñado escuchar sin hablar. Me han dado más confianza en mí mismo.

Cuando llegué a Tulum tuve un poco miedo que nadie quisieran hablar conmigo, pero cada vez fui en las calles y sonreí a alguien, respondieran con sonrisas, y la mayoría de los veces que puso a hablar con alguien, encontré un amigo o amiga nueva.

Y me habéis enseñado relajar y disfrutar la vida en el momento: el tiempo latino – cosas pasan cuando las pasan y no debemos estresar. Y está bien disfrutar un poquito de cerveza o mezcal aunque es martes y tenemos trabajos la mañana que viene. He aprendido estar humilde.

 

Casa cada día al menos una persona de ustedes me contacta, ¡y siempre me pone muy feliz!

Esta semana he estado nerviosa, pero hablé con varios de ustedes y mi han dado fe y confianza.

 

¡Me habéis cambiado, y para siembre estáis en mi corazón!

Las palabras en la tesis no sólo son mías. Son la resulta de mis experiencias y conversaciones con mucha gente en Tulum. Las palabras han llegado a ser en el espacio entre ustedes y yo.

¡Un profundo Gracias!

¡Dios bo’otik!

 

Y una sorpresa;)

¡NOS VEMOS NOVIEMBRE 1-8!!!!!

 

❤ Maria Lauridsen Jensen

 

Mi tesis es en Ingles, pero me gustaría que ustedes escuchan algunos de mis resultas:

 

Describo que identidad y etnicidad es un proceso que cambio todo el tiempo. Ustedes por ejemplo tienen vidas diferentes que tus padres, abuelos y bisabuelos. Y tampoco hay dos personas entre ustedes que son totalmente parecidos. Cada quien tienen su vista de vida, sus interesas y su estilo.

 

Mi argumento es que “ser maya” puede referir a tres cosas distintas:

  • En la manera el gobierno hablan, “maya” refiera a una cultura que es un parte de la cultura mexicana. Es un elemento en una construcción de una historia sobre un país multicultural. Pero el gobierno quiere que los mayas también son mexicanas que hablan español y pagas impuestos por ejemplo. Como resulto de los leyes nuevos es prohibido pescar, donde pascaron antes; no pueden tener fuego en la fiesta; y como resulta es difícil continuar algunos de las tradiciones.
  • En la industria del turismo, decir que algo es “maya” o parte de la “cultura maya” es una manera de ganar dinero. En la industria del turismo, maya mayormente refiera al tiempo pasado – a los mayas antiguos que hicieron las pirámides. A veces usa imagines de mujeres en hipiles o hombres que pescan para creer un estereotípico romántico, pero es raro buscar información sobre mayas que viven hoy día.
  • Y “maya” naturalmente también refiera a la gente que dicen que son mayas y hablan maya. Este tipo de ser maya es más mestizado de los otros dos tipos y es menos romántico. La vida es duro, pero ustedes son humildes y disfrutan la vida día al día. Hoy no todas las mujeres no traen hipil cada día, porque ustedes están inspirados de la vida de gente de otros lugares. Ustedes no viven en el busque, pero tienen televisión y celulares y todos.

 

También describo que ustedes en contrario al gobierno no queréis puro negocio, y no queréis “jugar mayas” para las turistas sean felices. Hacen que quieren hacer, y el dinero no es tan importante. Los cenotes para ustedes son lugares para relajar en la naturaleza, no para ganar millones. Si hacen artesanía es para nuestros no para vender a los turistas. La fiesta maya y la iglesia maya no están anunciados, son para ustedes.

No pensáis que los turistas son malos. Pensáis que el turismo está bien por el trabajo, pero también tenéis miedo que el idioma y religión maya van a desparecer.

He escrito que es irónico que los turistas piensan que las ruinas de Tulum es un lugar de los mayas, y ustedes dicen que es un lugar para turistas y es un lugar donde el gobierno hace puro negocio.

 

He escrito que hay segregación en Tulum. Mayas van a algunos lugares, chilangos a otros, y migrantes y turistas van a sus lugares. He escrito que es más difícil para ustedes ir a la playa que es para mí. He escrito que a veces los que trabajan en bares e hoteles no tratan bien a la gente que no sean turistas.

 

Y finalmente describo que ustedes estáis orgullosos de las tradiciones mayas, y que habéis disfrutado enseñarme y mostrármelas para yo puedo compartir mis experiencias en mi libro. He escrito que arman la tierra y naturaleza de Tulum.

 

¡Gracias otro vez!

 

Abstract “Being Maya in Cotemporary Tulum, Mexico”

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My thesis is an anthropological study of the social construction of Maya ethnicity in the international tourist town of Tulum on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork in Tulum from August to November 2015. I stress that Maya ethnicity is complex, and that my informants vary in their interpretations of their own ethnicity and in their perspectives on tourism, though they do have aspects of their interpretations in common. I conclude that “being Maya” refers to several, at times overlapping, “layers of reality”: Maya ethnicity and thereby identification and categorization; tourist discourse about a glorious past, in which Mayas symbolize a connection to the past; a nationalistic discourse that stresses that Mexico is one nation with cultural diversity, in which Mayas symbolize an element of the cultural diversity; and academic discourse. My informants do not find the promotion of Maya cultural past problematic; indeed they distance themselves from “Ancient Mayas.” However, they do find it problematic that the Mexican government makes it difficult to carry out aspects of their traditions or ways of being Maya.

Key words: Maya, tourism, identity, ethnicity, globalization, authenticity, Mexico

 

Let me know if you are interested in reading my thesis:)

 

 

GLIMPSES OF MAYA WAYS OF LIFE IN TULUM 4: A Town of Contrasts

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This is part four of a series of glipses from my ethnographic eye, in which I give you small unanalysed stories from my fieldwork that I find have something interesting about them. Remark that I write Maya Ways (plural). I want to underline that there are many ways to to be, feel or act Maya. Unlike what many believe, there is a flourishing culture of people who define themselves as Maya, and I find it important that we recognize their own explanations of Maya identity rather that putting them into a box of what we believe Mayas are supposed to be like. Feel free to comment below

A day in August, I started out in the “role” as a tourist. Part of doing ethnography is roleplaying. During my fiedwork I has assigned different roles my by my surroundings, and I purposely took on different roles as well. I biked for 30 minutes to go to a hotel on the beach, where I could take a yoga class. I entered the hotel made of natural looking rocks and wood, where rooms costed 300 dollars a night. A blond girl smiled to me in the reception. I asked for the bathroom, she pointed towards it and answered in English. The sink was made of porcelain and adorned with a colorful mandala, which I at first sight had confused with Mayan art. The door was made of bamboo, and the often seen sign “please put toilet paper in the bin instead of in the toilet” hung next to the paper. An Asian style Goddess was painted on one of the outer walls. The yoga class was taught in English by a tall blond woman. The room was open towards the sea. The other students were not Mexicans either.
After class I walked through the hotel to the beach. A Mexican woman was cleaning one of the cabañas. The places where turtles had lain eggs were marked off in the sand by small fences with a dated signs. The beach was actually pretty that day. The water was cleaner that I had seen it before. Sargasso has been the big embarrassment of the town this year. A few tourists were out swimming, three women were tanning while they were deeply occupied by the books they were reading, one or two tourists were rowing kayaks, and two Mexican men were removing Sargasso with shovels. The many empty tanning beds made the beach seem abandoned. The waiters in the restaurant greeted me, but otherwise they were glancing towards the ocean while they were leaning against the wall.
Outside the hotel, taxis had surround my bike. The drivers hung out together, but as soon as they saw me, “a tourist”, coming out of the hotel door, they shouted, “taxi!”. They returned their talking when they realized that I had my bike.
As I biked back to el pueblo, I observed the few tourists on the way, workers and signs. I had not see much tourist-worker interaction. A man told me, “Hello, good bye” as I rode by. Some workers were pushing wheelbarrows with weeds, others were chilling in the empty restaurants, yet others were doing work on pieces of land covered by bushes. I suppose they were making it ready for new hotels. A truck with a speaker announced that it was collecting tin. A man with a wagon in front of his bike announced that he sold tacos.
The hotel and restaurant signs were mainly in English. Many bore words such as “eco”, eco chick”, “organic”, “Maya”, “yoga”, “spa”, and “beachfront”. Most of the place names had somewhat connections to nature “Luna”, “Sol”, “Estrella”, “Mar” or had “Maya” as a prefix such as “Mayan sweat lodge”, “Mayalum”
The objects that I passed formed a symphony of Hindu shrines, Mexican skeletons, and paintings of plants and animals.
Several hotels had bike parking, and where the road ceased to follow the beach, a drawing on a sign directed people on bikes to the bike lane on the other side of the road.
On the beach road, I saw several wooden boxes made to sort garbage, but the garbage was mixed anyways.
Though people were on the road, it was quit. The palm trees and bushes that let the color green dominate the sides of the road, created a jungle like feeling.

I noticed how all adds for the new neighborhood Aldea Zama showed photos of light skinned people. It was branded as “luxurious”, “eco chick” and “the heart of Tulum”. The neighborhood was hidden away by a stone wall and a long entrance road. I wondered why the so-called heart of the town should be so hidden from the people of the town.

 

In the afternoon I switched my role. I had been invited home to a Mayan woman (she defines herself as “Mayera”). I had promised to bring chicken, so I found a polloría in the street next to mine. In contrast to the beach area, the majority of the signs in this neighborhood were written in Spanish. There were no menucard in the pollería, but some of the day’s offers were written on the wall. A woman approached me and asked if I spoke Spanish. Then she listed the options and prices. I did not really understand the options, since my meet related vocabulary is limited, but ordered chicken breast. A young man took care that the chickens did not burn on the grill. They made a seething sound. One of Shakira’s songs were playing, and a young woman behind the counter danced and sang as she prepared the food. All employees were Mexican. No one else were present. I paid 30 pesos (3 $, 15 dkr) for what I later discovered was chicken, tortillas, rice, beans and chili.

I parked my bike outside the empanada place where I had been twice before. Mainly men were eating there. The TV was very loud, but everybody but me was watching. I read a bit in a book I had borrowed from my neighbor while I observed. No tourists came during the 1½ hour I was there. I introduced myself to one of the young female workers, and she let me interview her. Thus, I revealed my role as an ethnographer. She was very positive about tourism, and repeatedly equaled it with work. She had only lived in Tulum for a while. She described tourists as friendly, and told me that she wanted to give them a good experience. “When they take photos it means that they want to remember the good time they have,” she explained to me. I had expected the locals to find such situations annoying. In this restaurant, the signs were also only in Spanish. In order to get to the toilet, I had to pass the open kitchen where I noticed marinated meat in plastic bowls without lids. The toilet door could not stay closed, so I had to hold it with one hand. The sink was in the kitchen. After I had put soap on my hands, I discovered that there was no water in the tap. When I asked, I was given a plastic bowl with water to rinse my hands.

I later learned that water shortage and bad dranage were common problems in the part of town sourrounding the Cancha Maya, the place where the first houses in Tulum were built; an area where many people who defines themselves and are defined as Mayas live; the place I would call “the heart of Tulum”.

 

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Glimpses of Maya Ways of Life in Tulum 3: Wednesday Mass in Cancha Maya

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This is part three of a series of glipses from my ethnographic eye. I choose to give you small unanalysed stories from my fieldwork that I find have something interesting about them. Remark that I write Maya Ways (plural). I want to underline that there are many ways to to be, feel or act Maya. Unlike what many believe, there is a flourishing culture of people who define themselves as Maya, and I find it important that we recognize their own explanations of Maya identity rather that putting them into a box of what we believe Mayas are supposed to be like. Feel free to comment below

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The wednesday after my first visit to Templo Maya, I began my “hunt” for informants. I saw two elderly women dressed in hipil, which are white dresses embroidered with colorful flowers traditionally worn by Mayan women. Each carried a pot under the arm. They entered the church. I followed them, and introduced myself to one of them and asked if she had time to talk to me later. Then I realized that she might not understand Spanish, so I asked if she did. She smiled, and several gold teeth became visible. From the moment I had given her my hand to greet her, she held it tight between her two hands. I felt her warm and loving personality. She told me in fluent Spanish that she only knew a few words, but that her friend was from Tulum and spoke Spanish. She pointed towards the other woman who was busy looking after a toddler boy who lividly crawled across the floor pushing a dried corn grain. She smilingly told me that she did not have time to talk after mass, and when I asked if I could ask her some questions right away, she refused as well. She blamed the lack of time on the toddler. Despite the words, I did not feel rejected, so I tried one last time, “What if I visit you?” I asked in Spanish. Luckily, the question, which I found rather intruding, worked. She told me that that would be much better, and that I could come on the following Sunday at 1pm. When I asked her to write down her address, she told me that she did not know how to write. A bit embarrassed by my inconsideration, I wrote down the address myself.
A group of men had gathered around a table. I went to the table to look what they were doing, but the leader of the church instantly said in a hard voice, “Sit down! We are working!” Sorry for my intrusion and a bit frightened, I sat back down on the bench and found my notebook to write about my meeting with the woman, which made the leader yell that in the church all notetaking was prohibited. The nerves rushed through my body as I packed my stuff away and apologized. “Hold yourself together,” I told myself, while I saw myself in the role as the intruding tourist that I was so critical of. I began to consider the ethics of coming to the church, a house of a religion that was not mine, mainly to get informants. I decided not to come back. I considered to leave, but since I had already placed my offering on the alter, I needed to stay to get my plastic box back.
Two elderly women smiled to me from the bench next to mine. I got up to breathe fresh air in the doorway between the benches. Only a soft breeze touched my skin, and it did not really help my nerves. The two women talked Maya together, so my plan about collecting narratives in collective environments turned out to be problematic. Since they looked at me and giggled, I was sure that they talked about me. All of the sudden, one of the women asked me in Spanish if I was a Gringa. I introduced myself, and we ended up talking about my questions quite a while. I kept the information in my head and wrote it down when I got home. I got her address and I was told to come by any day after 2pm. Her friend was silent. She did not speak Spanish. When the two women got up to put their soup bowls on the alter I stayed. After the episodes with the church leader I considered to skip the mass. The woman who spoke Spanish asked me if I was not going to light my candle. Together, we walked to the most sacred room. I lit my candle, and kneeled down. Unlike my first visit to the church, there was no collective prayer. Each person did their own. Praying was not something I was used to, but I thought it would not hurt, especially now when I had been in trouble with the leader of the church. As I saw the others do, I made the sign of the cross in front of my body. I observed how each woman went to the alter to make a prayer, and how they then mumbled and made the sign of the cross followed by a kiss on their palm. They made the gestures about five times as they walked sideways by the table with offerings. I followed along. After the service, the women asked for my opinion. Everybody shared the food that had been offered. A woman whom I had not talked to before asked me if I wanted to bring some food home as well, and then her 9-year-old daughter helped me getting it. The woman happily answered my questions. She asked for my phone number, and she gave me her address. We arranged that I could teach her daughter English, and that the family would help me with my project (fieldnotes August 26).
My first and only Wednesday noon mass was everything from an extremely frightening to a beautiful and heart warm experience. This became the day when I entered the Mayan community of Tulum. It is a day I will never forget, and a day my informants have mentioned as special on various occasions. Following this day, I visited all three women. The visit to the church was my access to do participant observation in private homes.

Glimpses of Maya Ways of Life in Tulum 2: Cancha Maya

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This is part two of a series of glipses from my ethnographic eye. I choose to give you small unanalysed stories from my fieldwork that I find have something interesting about them. Remark that I write Maya Ways (plural). I want to underline that there are many ways to to be, feel or act Maya. Unlike what many believe, there is a flourishing culture of people who define themselves as Maya, and I find it important that we recognize their own explanations of Maya identity rather that putting them into a box of what we believe Mayas are supposed to be like. Feel free to comment below

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When I arrived in Tulum with the purpose of doing ethnographic fieldwork about how tourism is percieved by locals, preferably Mayas, I had no clue about where to look for the Mayan population, but as I walked and biked about town and introduced my project and myself, I was advised to find the Cancha Maya. I had no idea about what or where the Cancha Maya was, but it turned out to be the square where the Mayan church is located.

Three men were relaxing in hammocks by the entrance to the church. One of them got up, and gave me and a friend of mine a guided tour of the church. I asked the guard if I could come to mass one day. He told me that the church was open for everyone, and then he gave me the schedule and told me to bring food and a candle. He asked me to come early to have the process of the service explained. When I told him about my project, the guard warned me that the Mayan community is a closed one.

The following day, I woke up at 5am to go to mass. I cut half a melon into peaces, and arranged them on a plate. Then I put a white candle in my purse. Outside the gekkoes sang in the darkness. The heat and humidity quickly made me sweat. A few people were already on the street, but it was quit besides from the a few barks from dogs. Close to the church two big busses with Mexican looking people passed me, and by the market several men seemed as if they were waiting on another buss. On the plaza where the church is located, a woman and a man were sweeping leaves away from the ground. the church looked closed. Two men sat on a bench in front of the church as I approached them I heard that they were speaking Maya. The clouds on the sky looked like they had been painted. Part of them were dark blue, part of them were white. They were beautiful. A woman In her late teens or start twenties passed by. She wore short that only covered part of a thighs, a T-shirt and a backpack. Another young woman who wore the same passed by few minutes later, and then a young man with a backpack, cap, cell phone in his hands.
At 6.10 a police officer came out of the gate to the church. Shortly after, the guard I talked to the day before came out. He commed his hair as he crossed the plaza. When he came back, I asked him if there would be a mass, and he told me that would in a little time, when el señor would arive. A few raindops fell on my skin, and the birds became noisy. People had talked about how a tornado forming in the Atlantic. The by 6.20 it wasalmost light. The rain stopped.

I asked the guard what he though about tourism in Tulum. He told me that the tourists bring a bit of money. According to the guard the ancestors have predicted that a time of change would come, and that the children would live in a time of wealth with cars and stuff. He told me that more changes will come.
He asked me what I had brought. I showed him the melon.I asked if it was good, and he extended his sí. Maybe that means no.

A man with a big nude belly came out to the gate of the church. He told me that I could enter, but that I was not allowed to take photos. He seemed very serious. I was the only one there besides from two guards. Apparently, I had misunderstood the schedule. I tried to tell them that they did not have to do the mass just for me, but they insisted. I placed my shoes by the entrance, and walked through a room only illuminated by the early rays of sun and some candles the guards had put on the alter at the 4am mass. The leading guard placed the melon I had brought on the alter. I lit my candle and placed it next to the others, as I was told to do, and sat down on a small wooden chair in front of the alter. The room was peaceful, almost magic. The leading guard did the prayers; the other stood in the doorway and showed me what to do. The one who did the prayers rang a small golden bell from time to time. He repeated the same verse over and over again while he touched a rosary. The sweat ran down my legs, and my back hurt from sitting on the stool. With time, I found it hard to concentrate. My eyes flickered, and I fought to not fall asleep due to the heat. A few times, I was given signs to stand up and to kneel, and so I did. The guard called on Jesus, Mother Mary and the Santa Cruzes in Spanish. The Santa Cruzes are worshiped in the Mayan religion la Cruz Parlante [The Talking Cross]. I thought to myself, “This is an excellent example of syncretism”. The last part of the service was in Maya language.

After mass, the guards asked for my opinion, and I told them that it had been beautiful, but a bit hot. They told me that it was hot for them as well. Caressed by the breeze in the entrance, we enjoyed chicha, a drink made of maize, served in a jicara, and some of the melon I had brought. Those were the two offerings of the morning. The guards asked if I would come back. I told them I would, and then I told them that I was an anthropologist interested in the changes that tourism had caused in Tulum. At first, they were quiet, but then they started to teach me a few words in Maya and to tell me about how another “nice Gringa” had married a Mayan man. “Gringa” is an emic term for a fair-skinned person.

Try Ya’ax’s new menu when you are in Tulum

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My lovely friends at Ya’ax has made a new and mouth-watering menu!
(Avenida Principal, near ADO)
As something new they now offer juices and sandwiches to go. Forget oxxo and make your bustrip healthy;-)

If you are in Tulum, please eat for me as well;-)

I can highly recommend juice nr. 7!!! I have asked for it so many times that it has now made the official menu:-)

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