Meet three Royal Resorts employees who took part in the recent Sacred Mayan Journey, an epic canoe crossing to the island of Cozumel on May 23 and the return journey on May 24. They trained hard for six months, getting up at dawn every day to row, swim and run, gathering their strength in preparation for this reenactment of an ancient Mayan pilgrimage to the shrine of Ixchel, the goddess of the moon, fertility and childbirth. Thirty-one kilometers there and 31 back under the blazing sun, defying strong currents, winds and waves; this is what they had to say about their amazing experience.

Jorge Aguayo

Customer Service Department
10 years with Royal Resorts
Originally from Yucatán

This was the fifth Sacred Mayan Journey for Jorge Aguayo from the Customer Service Department. Born in the state of Yucatán, he is proud of his Mayan roots and the way that the Sacred Mayan Journey keeps an ancient tradition alive, honoring his ancestors. He tells us that his young sons already have their own miniature oars and when they are older they too will join him on the sea voyage.

He says, “When we set sail at dawn on May 23, the emotion is indescribable. Even though I have done it five times now, you feel a thrill, a connection with the earth, the sea and with your ancestors. You see the faces of your family and hear the Mayan priests chanting and then you are transported to another time.

“The Sacred Mayan Journey is a way of testing yourself and seeing what you can achieve, he adds. “If you control your mind and your inner demons you can do anything, even overcome weariness and pain, and summon up extra reserves of strength that you didn’t know you had. You and your fellow oarsmen and women are a team and you all work together, motivating those who may be tiring. As you are with new teammates every year you share their emotions as though it is your first time.”

He adds, “This year the sea was deceptively choppy, the current was strong and waves were coming at the canoes from all directions. This slowed us up and we made the crossing to Cozumel in five and a half hours. Five canoes capsized, but we are trained to recover and turn them upright again.”

When we reached the island we made our way to the shrine of Ixchel, where everyone leaves an offering, says a prayer and then hears the message that the goddess has for the pilgrims. I took native fruit from my orchard as a mark of respect for the Mayan culture and this year Ixchel’s plea was for us to protect the earth.”

“I invite Royal Resorts members and guests who are with us in May to experience the Sacred Mayan Journey for themselves. From the evening Mayan market to the rituals in honor of Ixchel and the canoes setting off at sunrise, it will give them a glimpse of an ancient world.”

Jorge sums up ”I am very happy to work in Royal Resorts, the company has given me many opportunities and I have achieved great things here, including my own personal journey of faith.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Irasema García

Corporate Engineering Department
1 year 3 months with Royal Resorts
Originally from Oaxaca
A member of the Corporate Engineering department, Irasema says, “I was invited to take part in the Sacred Mayan Journey in 2013 by a friend who works in Xplor Park and this is my second year. It is an amazing experience, but difficult to describe, our faces say it all for us! For me the canoe journey is all about 20 percent physical effort and 80% mind and heart. Even though your hands are covered with blisters you don’t feel the pain. Everyone in the team supports each other so that we all achieve our goal, the climax of six months of hard work.“

She adds, “I think that you can do anything when you put your mind to it, you have to have faith in something. When I look at the people who take part in the Sacred Mayan Crossing, some are from the Mexican Caribbean, elsewhere in Mexico and overseas. They are a team, irrespective of gender, religious beliefs, or nationality. You have to have respect for the sea and for the area’s rich heritage. You do go back in time; it is a profound feeling and one that I think everyone should experience.”

Irasema concludes, “Working at Royal Resorts has been one of the best experiences in my career. I really enjoy it and I am very grateful for the opportunities I have been given and for the support that the company has given me, which enables me to participate in the Sacred Mayan Journey. I’ll be back in 2015 and I hope that more colleagues will join me.

Victor Raya

Food & Beverages Administrative Coordinator
7 years with Royal Resorts
Originally from Mexico City
For Food & Beverages Administrative Coordinator Victor Raya, this was also his second Sacred Mayan Crossing. He says, “Jorge Aguayo showed me photos and video of the Sacred Mayan Journey and it appealed to me. I was looking for something spiritual to help me erase sad memories from my life and turn a new page. I decided to take part and I can say that the training makes you face new challenges; apart from rowing you have to do coordination exercises, cardio and endurance tests. You learn how to work as a team.”

“This year we felt as though we were in a blender, two to three-meter high waves were coming at us from all sides and it was a long journey. The timonero or coxswain is selected for his/her experience and knowledge of the route and currents. They choose their rowing pairs based on experience and weight in order to balance the canoe and everyone is trained how to cope with a capsize and to keep calm.

“When we reached Cozumel and visited the shrine of Ixchel, I made an offering of a jadeite necklace to the goddess and promised to return when my child is born.”

He adds, “On the return journey, when you reach Xcaret you feel overwhelming joy that you have overcome all the challenges of the voyage, from blisters and dehydration to the wind and waves. You have been transformed and cleansed, as though you have left all your negative emotions at sea. I think that the journey is like life itself, you can overcome problems and do anything you set your mind to. You just have to keep going, be strong and believe. You discover that you always have something more to give.”

On the cultural aspect of the Sacred Mayan Journey, Victor adds, “Mexico has a rich cultural heritage and every region has its traditions; to participate in the Sacred Mayan Crossing and know that you are helping to revive an ancient custom is immensely rewarding.”

Victor is happy to work for Royal Resorts and says, “Not only have I advanced professionally here but I also met my wife and we now have a family. I thank the Directors and Management Team for the new projects that they have implemented. They offer challenges, opportunities to learn and move forward. Like the Sacred Mayan Journey, they motivate me to give my best and always strive for more.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]