The Maya civilization, which lasted for more than 3,500 years, was arguably the greatest culture of the Western Hemisphere. The Maya never disappeared—even today more than a million people speak Mayan as a first language.
Experience the history, culture, and cuisine of Yucatán on this ten-day culinary and photographic expedition to Mexico. During our epicurean and visual feast, we cook, eat, and photograph our way around Yucatán, exploring markets, restaurants, haciendas, cenotes, colonial towns, nature preserves, beaches, and archaeological sites, including Uxmal—considered by many to be the most splendid.
On Friday, November 4, we arrive in beautiful Mérida and settle in at Casa del Balam. Located in the heart of the historic colonial district, our hotel is just steps from the Mérida Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas. In the evening, we gather for a welcome reception, orientation, and dinner at the hotel.
Award-winning chef David Sterling introduces us to local gastronomic pleasures at his cooking school, Los Dos, where we prepare a meal and learn to make chocolate from local ingredients. During our time together, Chef David leads us on a tasting tour of local street food and chooses the restaurants where we dine, including El Manjar Blanco, Néctar, and Restaurante Kinch. Participants also receive copies of Macduff’s The Modern Maya: Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán and Chef David’s Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, a James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year.
Photographic field trips take us to a stunning array of locations both within Mérida and throughout the surrounding countryside. Macduff Everton shares insights gained from working with the Maya and prominent archaeologists and epigraphers, while photographer Jennifer Davidson, who has spent years working in Latin America, shares her technical and artistic knowledge. Highlights include:
- A traditional Paso Doble dance performance
- The main square of Merida, including the Palacio del Gobierno and Casa de Montejo
- The historic Hacienda Xcanatún, for photographic opportunities and for dinner
- The Celstún biological reserve
- A seafood feast on the beach
- Mayápan, an archaeological site off the main tourist trail
- Hacienda Sotuta de Peón, to tour the fields and learn about sisal production
- An underground cenote
- The stunning archaeological site of Uxmal
- The Ecomuseo del Cacao
- A visit with a traditional Maya family
- The historic town of Izamal, designated a Pueblo Mágico
Wednesday, November 9 is the midway point for our trip, the perfect time to explore Merida on your own and have a one-on-one image review session with Macduff and Jennifer. Our expedition concludes on Saturday, November 12 with a presentation of images you created and a farewell dinner at the elegant K’uuk restaurant.
This is a unique opportunity to work with leading experts on Yucatán and the Maya. It promises to be a rich photographic and gastronomic cultural experience for nearly anyone’s tastes and palette—architectural, archaeological, food, landscapes, portraits—enough subject matter to fill a hard drive!