Using the words Maya and Mayan and knowing the difference between the two is not a simple concept for an English speaking brain. These two words are not interchangeable, nor are they singular words describing a broad culture, like the more familiar word French that means *anything* of French culture or of France.
Where did the confusion come from? Probably from a long list of English speaking scholars.
In the Yucatan, the Maya that I have met are fairly picky about their cultural name, so when traveling there I try to respect their culture of language.
When talking about the area or the culture, English speakers naturally want to call everything Mayan. Mayan food, Mayan language, Mayan this, Mayan that. When traveling in the Yucatan it was not uncommon to be corrected when using the word Mayan instead of Maya. *Taxi drivers were more than happy to explain the difference between the words. But even after having it explained, it’s still confusing even though there is only one real instance of where the word Mayan is used!
If you search the web you will find English speakers/writers incorrectly using the two interchangeably within a sentence of each other. This site has been guilty of it too.
So, for clarification …
It is not the Mayan Riviera, it is the Riviera Maya.
The culture is not Mayan, it is Maya, or The Maya.
The civilization is not Mayan, it is Maya civilization.
The people are not Mayan, they are Maya or The Maya.
The ruins are not Mayan, they are the Maya ruins.
The writing is Maya script.
The Confusing Example:
The language is Mayan, although when speaking about the modern language of the Yucatan it is called Yucatec Maya. But the Maya in the Yucatan just refer to it as Mayan.
The easy way to remember this is that the only time the word Mayan is used is when talking about the language!
*tsikbal = respectful conversation
*Taxi drivers are a wealth of information, and not just information about getting from Point A to Point B!
The bus from Tulum dropped me off at a cafe in the middle of Cobá, a town with more of a beginning and an end, and not much of a middle. Asking the young man sitting at the bus ticket table in which direction I should walk to get to the ruins, he pointed straight ahead to the far end of town. So, I followed his finger and that’s the way I went.
To find my way to the ruins, I first found Lake Cobá, the waters stirred by the wind that gives the city its name, then followed the signs that led me into the jungle. Once inside the archaeological site the first thing I saw was a large area of bicycles for rent. After I finished my day of hiking through Cobá, along its long, wide, and flat paths, I thought that seeing Cobá the next time with a bicycle might just be a good idea.
But this time I wanted to walk, and I by the end of it all, I was glad I did. Cobá is a beautiful, rustic, site that has barely begun its restoration. Many of its buildings remain as a heap of rocks covered in vegetation and trees. The groups of buildings that have been restored are sometimes more than a kilometer apart, connected by sacbes, or white roads. Built out of raised limestone, these roads and pathways were usually one to three meters above ground and anywhere from three to twenty meters wide. The Maya did not take advantage of the wheel the way other cultures of the world did, so their roads were made mainly for walking and for ceremonial uses. So far, about forty of these roads have been discovered, connecting different sections of Cobá and also connecting Cobá with other Maya cities. Walking them gave me a sense of walking in a purposefully planned urban area.
I had no plan. Walking randomly through the site, people on bicycles and bicycle taxis slowly passed me by. Most were following the signs to Nohoch Mul, The Great Pyramid. On that path I met a beautiful Maya man who drove a bicycle taxi. He was leaning against a wall under the shade of a tree, the taxi parked beside him. In a ploy to get me to hire him as my taxi driver, he flashed a wide brilliant white smile at me and said that I would never find Nohoch Mul if I walked alone through the forest. When I insisted on walking, he then insisted that I couldn’t leave until I could pronounce the words Nohoch Mul correctly. My first lesson in the Mayan language commenced.
Nohoch means big, large, old, which is derived from the Maya word noh which means large and -Vch (och) which works as an intensifier, like very large or largest. Mul means mound or hill, specifically a man-made one.
When he was satisfied that my language and inflection skills had significantly improved, I was ‘permitted’ to continue on my way, to walk the paths of Coba.
Through the jungle and down the wide paths I walked. Iguanas and little lizards sunned themselves as I took photographs of the stones. Birds could be heard through the forest. The trees provided some shade from the heat, even though it was a kind of lightly overcast day. Walking down the paths, buildings made themselves known as they appeared through the trees. Complete clearings were not to be found.
I found Conjunto Las Pinturas, The Paintings Group, called so because of the remnants of murals found inside the temple. The collection of stelae in The Macanxoc Group, which were surrounded by the mounds of unexcavated buildings covered in trees and jungle vegetation, were beautiful with their worn, but still barely visible, sculpted pictorial scenes and descriptions. Exploring The Cobá Group came last, which included the very high La Iglesia and The Ball Court.
Later, towards the end of my walk through the ruins, I saw my first true Maya nose on an actual live person. I couldn’t help myself, I had to stop and watch the man’s profile for awhile as he was having a conversation with someone else. How rude I must have seemed. Hopefully they didn’t even notice me. Up until this point in my travels in the Yucatan, I had always thought that the facial feature of the Maya nose, the ones depicted in the carvings on the walls and in drawings, were an exaggeration, going along with the exaggerated musculature of the Maya body depicted in paintings. But no, there one stood, in perfect profile, directly in front of me. The man’s profile was quite beautiful and extraordinary.
Unfortunately though, the bike-taxi driver was right. I never did find Nohoch Mul that day, with my meandering going off course down every little path, and my fascination with everything else I found along the way. But missing it gives me the opportunity to go back another day, to walk the paths and listen to the forest, to climb The Great Pyramid, and maybe get another lesson in Maya.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Magical is a relative term, depending on who is experiencing it and what the expected outcome of that experience is.
It’s hard to be a writer and write about a magical experience with Daniel Pool Pech without sounding just a little bit kooky. After all, he is Maya, a Shaman of sorts, an untrained masseur of sorts, he talks to God in his dreams, he chants while he works, and people trust not only their entire bodies – sometimes sick ones at that – to Daniel, but their life energy too.
That above all else is a testament to Daniel, that people trust him.
When I signed up for my healing massage with Daniel I had no idea what I was signing up for. I was in Tulum to see what was there, to get some sun, get away from my so-called-life, and to have experiences and write about them, when someone lightly suggested that I have a healing massage with Daniel.
I was not sick or un-healed when I went to see him, or so I thought. Sure, I had a lifelong stiff neck, a back that I really have to watch out for, and I was overweight, but nothing in the extreme. My head is on straight, even though my friends and family question that more often than not. But starting within the few hours after my healing massage my life started noticeably changing.
Getting a massage can be a hit or miss experience. Finding a good masseur/masseuse, and connecting with them, is key. Some massages last only as long as the massage. Others will last for an hour or two after you leave the room and then your body will start feeling ‘normal’ again. Knowing that a massage, and the hands that give it to you, are a tool, and not a cure for what is ailing you is important. If you have a massage to help an ailing back, you also have to learn what not to do to your back to make it hurt again. If you are having a massage to open up your energy channels, well, you also have to know how to keep them open on your own. And if you’ve had a few massages in your life, you can probably tell a good one from a not so good one.
Which is why I can say my magical experience with Daniel can be described as like a light switch had been turned on and my entire being lit up.
Within an hour of seeing him, I could feel myself starting to lose toxins, a sensation that felt like needles were shooting out of every pore of my body. I could feel the energy moving through me – all channels were open and operative. The next day, in my mind, I noticeably started seeing beyond the illusion of my life. That morning I really felt like I was on center, that my power had returned to me – something I hadn’t really realized I was missing. In spite of that I cried almost the entire flight home, for no real reason. And when I got off the plane at SFO, I had no desire to even lay eyes on my boyfriend, much to his chagrin.
For days after my massage I could still feel Daniel’s hands on my skin, very lightly working my muscles. The toxic needles shooting out of my body became less intense as time went by. For the first week, after my return to SFO, I found myself in a waking dream in the middle of each night. I would awake with Daniel’s thumb pressing on the edge of my sternum. Time to roll over, he would telepathically say. Rolling over, I would go back to sleep and would wake in the morning refreshed. I think the only reason why I stopped having those dreams was because I changed time zones again, making a nine hour difference in our sleeping hours.
In that first week my magic also included befuddlement, with the inability to make decisions based on any of my personal belief systems. Crying at the drop of a hat for no reason, I couldn’t handle the confusion. I would burst into tears in places like the checkout line at Whole Foods, or while I was pumping gas into my car at Costco. It seems that when my energy channels opened, my belief systems went haywire. Even though I felt energized and in my power, I also felt intense emotional insecurity and had wished many times that week that I had not waited until the last day of my trip to see Daniel. It would have been nice to be able to consult with him, or just be around the area, to adjust, for awhile longer …
And to this day, some three months later, I actually enjoy sitting up rigidly straight in my chair. Something I never did before seeing him.
Daniel didn’t seem to care about what led me to him, or why I was there. He has one purpose when he is alone in a room with you and that is transformation. Yours. Daniel is on a higher plane and he’s going to do his best to bring you there with him. But you also have to consciously choose to go there.
Everyone will come away from Daniel with a different experience. You can see him and just get a really good massage if that is all you want. The quality of your experience really matters more on how you approach your session with him and how open you are.
Whether your transformation is physical or spiritual, whether or not you believe in Daniel and his work, if you are a spiritual person and open to it Daniel Pool Pech will change how you understand the word healing, how you feel spiritually, how you see and perceive the world and most of all, how you see yourself.
At the very least, you’ll feel a lot better :)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and do not have any authority in recommending or prescribing massage as a form of healing what ails you. If you see Daniel, you see him under your own motivation.