Mayan Lesson: Coba, Mexico | Sonia’s Travels

Sonia Gil (aka Sonia's Travels) heads to Coba, Mexico to learn some Mayan.

This is a guest post from the talented digital nomad Sonia Gil (known on her Youtube channel as Sonia’s Travels):
I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “appearances can be deceiving” and this statement definitely proves true while traveling. What separates a traveler from a tourist is the eagerness to learn from our surroundings and from the locals that make each city and town unique.
One situation that comes to mind happened on a recent trip. I met a man who despite his expertise in wines, had horrible table manners. Although he was able to call himself an accomplished sommelier, that did little to convince me to look past his rude table manners.This goes to show that if you stay too focused on being the best at one single thing, the world might pass you by. In today’s professional world there is a lot of emphasis on the “super specific specialist” who serves as an expert on a single topic.Sonia Gil (aka Sonia's Travels) heads to Coba, Mexico to learn some Mayan.
I feel that we all need to go back to the time when more emphasis was placed upon living full and enriched lives, which is best done by accepting challenges and learning from these experiences. And what a better way to open your eyes to a different world than traveling to a place where you understand very little.Language is a perfect example of a challenging task. This past summer I visited Coba, an ancient Mayan city that is thankfully still well preserved. Instead of speaking Spanish to the locals, which they can all easily understand, I decided to challenge myself and learn what I could of their native language.

As I repeated the Coba words that were slowly beginning to resonate meaning in my mind, I was able to see myself in a different light. This ultimately helped me appreciate my own country and my native language in a brand new way.

Sonia Gil (aka Sonia's Travels) heads to Coba, Mexico to learn some Mayan.

In this episode shot in Coba, I found someone willing to teach me some Mayan, It was only a few basic words and phrases but enough to give me a glimpse at this very different world. I recorded this Mayan lesson to show how just two minutes of your time can open up a huge door to a radically different world.

BioSonia Gil hosts a weekly original web travel series called Sonia’s Travels with episodes shot in Mexico, Italy, Berlin and Paris. Each trip turns into a series of shows in which Sonia offers a small idea or tip about a place and the people who live there. New Episodes Premiere Every Thursday at 12 noon (9:00 am Pacific).
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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Sweeney January 27, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Nice post. Good for you learning a little Mayan and your overall perspective on accepting challenges and learning new things. I try to do that as well, but sometimes I guess I’m just a tourist. :)

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Nomadic Samuel January 29, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hey Cathy, I feel I’m often just a tourist myself :P I do make an effort to learn a few words/phrases in each country I visit.

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Sonia Gil February 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Glad you liked it Cathy!

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Kurt W January 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Great tips, a traveler needs to be immersed to get the full benefit of the surrounding environment. In today’s service sector economy we are a generation of specialists and this also comes with extreme drawbacks.

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Nomadic Samuel January 31, 2012 at 11:07 am

I couldn’t agree with you more. Wherever I go, I try to at least learn a few sentences in the local language and fumble it around as best I can.

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Cole @ Four Jandals January 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

You always need to try a few words, even just out of politeness and respect for their culture. Hate people that just start flinging around English then get mad when the locals can’t understand them!

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Nomadic Samuel January 31, 2012 at 11:04 am

Oh I totally hear you! That’s one of my ultimate pet peeves when people do that :)

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Cheryl Howard February 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Gosh, I hate that too! Was in Krakow on the weekend and this woman was speaking loudly and slowly to a Polish local like he was an idiot. She only succeeded at making herself sound look rude and ignorant … fun post Sonia!

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Nomadic Samuel February 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

It really comes across as being ignorant when people do that!

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Laura February 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I agree that learning a new language is an extremely challenging task and one that’s so important for travelers and expats. I’m a big fan of Sonia’s travel videos, especially her travels in Mexico. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work! :)

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Sonia Gil February 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Thanks so much Laura :)

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Samy Suiz March 2, 2012 at 1:43 am

Your article was refreshing. The fact that you chose to learn their native language instead of speaking spanish says a lot about your genuine hunger to learn. I think this is very important in the modern world we live in because most people in the same situation wouldn’t go the extra mile to experience something entirely new to them. I would like to see more of your travels..

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Nomadic Samuel March 2, 2012 at 5:05 am

Thanks Samy,

I was impressed by Sonia’s efforts as well. I think she’s done a lot of interesting trips and will continue to do even more.

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Mathew Sweet March 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Wow. I can’t believe you made the effort to learn another language that is not so common worldwide. Two thumbs up!

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Dancy John March 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Learning this language is not in my agenda just yet… so i guess your right.. It is an initiative from her part to at least try.. :)

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Lucca Swing April 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

People look so friendly in this neighborhood! Im from NY and I cant imagine someone who would take you in the way they did. I can see it is a super warm culture.

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Nomadic Samuel April 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

I’m amazed at how warm and friendly certain culture are around the world.

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Mary @ Green Global Travel April 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm

We loved Coba! Learn that the entire region still speaks Mayan made our adventure even more exotic. Our trip included Mayan mythology, traditional Mayan folk music, and local Mayan cuisine. It was one of our favorite trips :)

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Nomadic Samuel April 17, 2012 at 4:34 am

Sounds like it would have been amazing Mary!

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Gregory Johnson April 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm

People in latin america are usually friendly to outsiders. People take you in and thanks to that, you can get immersed into the culture. This little lesson is an example of it. As long as your friendly an polite, the world is yours!!!!

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Nomadic Samuel May 7, 2012 at 2:46 am

Great lessons Gregory :)

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