By Rodrigo Manterola
The Mayan Riviera in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is one of our favorite spots and projects, particularly the towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum in Quintana Roo; that’s where Lorna and I met, and also where this project was born.
It all started in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a small town once, not long ago, inhabited only by fishermen, now one of the most important touristic towns in Mexico.
My first visit to “Playa” was in 1996, when I moved to the nearby city of Cancun looking for a change of direction in my life, back then the population in Playa del Carmen was a little over 10,000 people, by 2018 the population of Playa del Carmen had raised to a whopping 252,087. That’s a growth rate of more than 150% every 5 years.
There are many things to do in Playa del Carmen and this town also offered a lifestyle wanted by many.
Lorna and I met in this town for the first time ever by a series of unrelated events that lead to a beautiful outcome.
Back in 2015, Lorna was working for a TV production company located in Bristol, UK.
You can say she loved her job, but in the TV industry opportunities are scarce, competition is fierce and dead-end jobs are normally the only kind of job you can get as a freshman from the university. She wanted more so she went for more.
Against all advice, she quitted her job, bought a camera and a one-way ticket to Mexico to pursuit her underwater photography dream. We actually made a film about this story some years ago. You can find it here.
She chose Playa del Carmen to get her Dive Master certification and moved into a 3 bedroom apartment where coincidently I was also living while I was working in my Mayan Riviera Project.
The Mayan Riviera Project
I lived in the Mayan Riviera for many years and in many locations, first in Cancun in 1996, last one Playa del Carmen in 2015.
During my years and the Yucatan Peninsula, I traveled intensely, not only in southern Mexico but also in Central America, and a common denominator was always there; The Maya Civilization.
It was in 2008 in the middle of a cycling trip through Central America and while visiting the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala that I was hit with an idea.
The information should be accessible to everyone despite their budget!
To have access to a guide was expensive if you are traveling on a budget, you could get a group rate if you wanted to tag along with other visitors, and that was all right, but unfortunately, this meant several languages, our guide constantly half-answering questions, ending in a flavorless experience with little information gain.
Create GPS triggered completely self-guided audio-guides so everybody was able to get the whole information on their own terms; freedom to explore.
After years of traveling, studying, interviewing experts, archeologists, historians, and software designers we finally had a product in partnership with VoiceMap.me a South African company.
And guess what, the audio-guides had a fantastic Irish accent-sweet-voice to guide you through the Mayan cities; Lorna is the voice behind the guide.
You can download the app here
Since then we have been working in constant improvements and we are looking forward to adding more destinations to the menu.