Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Learning the Legend of the Aluxes

There's a wonderful myth or legend, if you prefer, that I've been learning about during my time in Playa del Carmen that I would like to share with you.

First allow me to apologize in advance if I don't get it exactly correct. I'm using information I found at a local Playa restaurant called the Alux and information I have gleaned from Wikipedia.

The Aluxes are a spirit in the mythological tradition of Mayan culture. They are spirits that are associated with natural features such as gardens, forests, caves and stones. I understand that it's considered good practice to build a little house, on your property, to honour the Aluxes. In so doing you are asking the Aluxes to help to protect your property. Legend has it that the Mayan farmers would build a little house in their corn fields and for seven years the Aluxes would help them receive good crops, bringing rain and protecting the fields at night by scaring off predators or crop thieves. At the end of seven years, the farmer must close the windows and doors of the little house, sealing the Aluxes inside. If this is not done, the Aluxes will run wild and start playing tricks on people.

The story goes on to say that they will occasionally stop and ask farmers or travellers for an offering. If the offering is not given then the Aluxes will start some trickery. If they are given an offering it is believed that the Aluxes will protect and bring good luck to the person.

So there you have a simple explanation of the Aluxes.

My brother told me of an incident that happened recently in Playa del Carmen. There was an overpass constructed over the highway near Playa del Carmen but there were problems with it. It began to sink. They had engineers come in and look at it. They made various repairs and improvements and tried all ways they could think of to correct the problem. Unfortunately nothing they tried worked and the overpass continued to sink. Then during a discussion someone asked if the ceremony to the Aluxes was performed (I'm sorry I don't know the proper name for this ceremony). Apparently there is a formal ceremony that is performed to appease the Aluxes. So having failed in every other way to solve their problem they performed this ceremony in the full formal manner, even building the little house for the Aluxes under the overpass along side the highway (it's not that little - I think it must be at least 5 ft. high or more maybe?). Well you know what - it seems to have worked because since that time they have had no more problems with the overpass.

The Aluxes are a very big part of the culture in the Playa area. There are a couple restaurants I have been to - one in Bacalar called the Aluxes (if I remember correctly) with great food, a beautiful garden and it overlooks the lake.

The other one is called Alux and is in Playa del Carmen. There is a TV program called Uber Guide and one program they had was on the Top 10 unique restaurants in the world and the Alux in Playa del Carmen was rated as #7. I had been to the Alux before seeing this program and as I loved it so much I was very pleased to see it appear in the Top 10.

I wanted to share with you some pictures of the Alux in Playa. This beautiful restaurant/lounge is below ground in a residential neighbourhood in Playa and it is a natural cavern. A truly unique experience. You can have dinner there or just go to enjoy a drink in the lounge. There are paths that wind through the cavern with clusters of couches or chairs tucked into the various openings along the way. The natural formations are quite spectacular - the pictures don't do them justice at all.

Next time I visit I must remember to ask if they created a house for the Aluxes.

The following is the information displayed in the restaurant regarding the restaurant and the Alux.

The History of Alux

This cavern was discovered in 1994. After years of planning and restoration with minimal ecological impact it was opened giving the public the opportunity to experience the unique stalactites and stalagmites in a restaurant/lounge environment.

These caverns were used by the ancient Mayan for protection against atmospheric phenomena and above all, to connect them to the inner world.

One of these mystical places is the Alux, a dwelling of small magical beings called "Aluxes" the great guardians which form part of this amazing culture.

The "Aluxes" are small imps, nimble and mischievous, who protect the houses and cornfields of those who present offerings and give food. Ancient objects of earthenware scattered around the archaeological sites give claim to their life and how they carried out their tricks. These small beings dispel bad spirits and chase away plagues.

PS:  Want to come play in Playa del Carmen?