If you haven’t taken a vacation yet to Cancun or the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, you’re in for a few fun and fascinating surprises. Surrounded by soft, white sand beaches, the breathtaking turquoise-blue Caribbean Sea, a sparkling lagoon bordered by mangroves, and lush green rainforests with colorful tropical plants and flowers, this travel destination will inspire you.
Besides being inspired by this natural paradise, you may also be inspired by the Spanish culture that influenced Mexico with its haciendas and bullfighting, and by the ancient Mayan culture that influenced the Yucatan Peninsula with its archaeological ruins and native traditions. Once part of the Mayan empire, the Yucatan Peninsula includes the Mexico states of Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo, where Cancun and the Riviera Maya are located.
Brief Mayan History
A little history about the Maya people of the region: The Maya are a Mesoamerican civilization that flourished in the Classic period (250 AD to 900 AD). The ancient Mayans were a powerful and intelligent people, making advanced contributions in architecture, written language, mathematics, and astronomy. They left a rich cultural legacy, which is evident in the archaeological sites of ancient Mayan ruins, some of which are Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba.
Spanish & Mayan Languages
As a result of the Spanish and Mayan influence, use of their native languages naturally follows. You’ll hear Spanish everywhere (of course; it’s Mexico), although many Mexicans speak English well enough to communicate with you if you need something. A less common but customary language, Yucatec Maya – the regional Mayan language – is also used here. You’ll sometimes see Mayan words written and hear Mayan words spoken in this region too.
Words & Phrases
Here is a variety of different Spanish and Mayan words, which you may encounter on your vacation in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, some of which may be helpful or simply just fascinating. You can even show off and use some of these Spanish words on your Cancun vacation, but we promise that you won’t have to speak Mayan!
|Buenos dias||Good day|
|Buenas tardes||Good afternoon|
|Buenas noches||Good night|
|Muchas gracias||Thank you very much|
|No gracias||No thank you|
|¿Dónde está el baño?||Where is the restroom?|
|¿Dónde está el autobus?||Where is the bus?|
|¿Cuál autobús debo tomar?||Which bus do I take?|
|¿Me regalas la cuenta por favor?||May I please have the bill?|
|Adios / Ciao||Good-bye / Bye|
|Hasta luego||See you later|
|Dyos bo’otik||Thank you|
|Kukulkan / Kukulcan||Feathered serpent, snake|
|Maasima’ ?||Isn’t that right?|