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Mayan canoe crossing
Canoes leaving at sunrise.
  History was made at sunrise last Friday, when some 180 rowers took to more than 20 traditional Mayan canoes and paddled across the channel from the mainland to Cozumel.

The re-enactments of travesías sagradas - crossings last made by the Maya over 500 years ago - were organized as part of an event to promote knowledge of local traditions.

The cultural project, organized by Xcaret tourist park and local authorities in Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, included crossing from Xcaret to Cozumel as well as crossing back to Playa del Carmen on Saturday.

The organizers say the sacred Mayan journeys used to be made as a form of pilgrimage to visit Cozumel, regarded as the home of Ix Chel, the Mayan Goddess of Fertility and the Moon.

Mayans from all around the Yucatan Peninsula used to cross to the island once a year from harbors such as Ppolé and Xamanhá, today known as Xcaret and Playa del Carmen.

In Cozumel, they would receive a message from Ix Chel delivered by a priest, which was taken back to the mainland and guided how the communities should live.

The route re-enacted covered a distance of approximately 30 miles (50 km) back and forth. It involved about 6 to 7 hours of rowing in a channel that has a depth of more than 1,000 feet (300m) and currents of 2 to 4 knots in places. The organizers plan to hold the event every year.

Read more and book day trips to Xcaret or learn about Ix Chel and the Mayan ruins at San Gervasio, in our Things To Do section.

Read more Riviera Maya News stories.