A video I put together for Matador Network on what cenotes you should visit if you're in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Mexico has some amazing urban exploration sites with fascinating stories. However, not much is known about this one. Right off the highway, just outside the town of Playa del Carmen lies this abandoned building with a sign deeming it "Hareem Gentlemen's Club" out front. Yes, this place was once a strip club. But it was huge! It definitely had more of a giant nightclub vibe. There's nothing online about Hareem's, which suggests the joint was up and running back before the days of Google and Facebook.
I found out about this site through a vlog post by Fearless & Far. Here is the exact location on Google Maps. The building was very easy to enter. There is a path that leads right in - no fence jumping, security bribing, or sneaking in required. This is definitely one of the easiest but still awesome abandoned spots I have visited. We entered around late afternoon on a weekend and there was no one else in sight. Here are my favourite photos:
That stage down there is where the stripper pole would have been.
This is the washroom or change room.
This would have been the bar.
This flyer is from 2015 but I believe this place is much older than that.
Out back there was a small building which seemed like a private suite for, well, you know...
Here's a cool street art piece on the side of Homer smokin’ a dube.
This is the entrance
Psycristrance is a psytrance festival that takes place over new years near San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. For the 2021-2022 edition Eudaimonia co-hosted the festival. It took place in a beautiful natural forest setting, dubbed Psycrisland. There were three stages with music at one or more playing 24/7 over the course of four days.
This was the first festival I had attended since COVID began. It was wonderful to be surrounded by psy community once again and dance to loud speakers in a natural setting. I greatly enjoyed my time here, however, there were a couple things that were simply unacceptable for a festival of this calibre:
The first was that there was no free water on site and bottled water was being sold at 50 pesos (for Mexico, highly overpriced). From a harm-reduction standpoint, water must to be accessible, not profitable, at an event where people are dancing and consuming substances over multiple days! The other issue was the hygiene situation. The washrooms were not equipped with any sort of hand-washing station nor toilet paper. Hand-sanitizer was barely available. This is how disease spreads (and it most certainly did). Until these issues are fixed, I simply cannot recommend Psycristrance.
As this was my first time at a festival in two years, I aimed to stay present rather than experience the festival through my lens. I brought out my camera only for a couple hours one day, and so this gallery is by no means a comprehensive overview of all that went down at the festival. Nonetheless, these are my favourite shots:
Full album on Facebook
Izamal is a small town located in Mexico's Yucatan state, about an hour away from Chichen Itza. It was actually the first town in Mexico to be declared a pueblo magico, or magic town. This designation is awarded to towns that have maintained their original architecture, history and culture.
What sets Izamal apart is that all the buildings in the historical centre are painted yellow... and no one really knows why! Nonetheless, it is a lovely little town to meander through and take some bright photos of. I passed through in May of 2021 and snapped these photos, mainly of the doorways, as I found them the most interesting:
Misnebalam is an abandoned ghost town near Merida, Mexico. It was inhabited from around 1910-2005. It was once a lively little town due to the production of henequen - a plant used to extract fibers and create textiles. In 1921, the head of henequén production, Don Fidencio G. Márquez, was attacked and murdered. It is said that since then, ghosts and other paranormal activity began to scare the residents, so much that in 2005, they left the town for good.
The henequen industry was booming at the time, but eventually fell due to the invention of more cost-effective synthetic materials. This probably had something to do with the town's abandonment as well. But a wander around the pool and courtyard area shows what a thriving town this once was. You can find Misnebalam on Google Maps. Here are some photos I took in February 2021:
Mexico has many amazing abandoned sites, but none have a story quite like this. Arturo Durazo Moreno, also known as "El Negro", was the Chief of Police in Mexico City from 1976 to 1982. Although his salary was less than $1000 USD/month, he was making a lot more on the side through bribery, extortion, corrupt deals, and his involvement with the drug cartel. El Negro spent his extra money on a number of lavish mansions, one of which was this one on the Pacific Coast, in the town of Zihuatanejo.
As you can see, he had the place built to resemble the Greek Parthenon. It was basically his playhouse. Extravagant parties fueled with drugs, prostitutes, and other sinful activities, were held here. It is odd walking through this place, knowing what once went on in here.
Eventually in 1982, Mexico's newly elected president, Miguel de la Madrid, came into power wanting to put an end to corruption. El Negro fled the country but was found a couple years later and charged with tax evasion, extortion, smuggling and possession of illegal weapons. He was sentenced to 25 years but only ended up serving about 8 as he was released on bail. He passed away in 2000, but his Parthenon remains as a symbol of the ongoing corruption battle in Mexico. For a more detailed account of his life, check out this article in The Guardian.
I visited the Parthenon in December of 2020. The site is very easy to get to, the location can be found on Google Maps. It is a short cab ride up the hill from the town center. If you are driving up the main road yourself, look out for steep dirt road turnoff next to a National Guard military base. When I went, there were a few cars parked here on the side of the road. It didn't seem like there was any room for us to park, but a National Guard officer said we were okay to park behind some cars. Don't be threatened by the National Guard, they are used to visitors. Once you are here, hike up the steep dirt road which will lead you to the entrance gates. At the time a guy came out and charged us 50 pesos per person to enter (about $2.50 USD). We went just before sunset on a weekday and there was only one other group of people there.
Here are some photos I took:
The Parthenon from the front. Greek statues are scattered throughout the property.
These are the front gates. High enough, no?
This is the path leading up to the house right after you enter the gates.
Some of the Greek statues are beheaded.
This is the main area. Very open concept.
The view from the house.
The hole in the foreground is supposedly a secret tunnel so guests could quickly escape from inside the house if needed.
The pool bar.
Heading back inside...
There are some questionable scenes depicted in the art...
Inside the many bedrooms.
The bedrooms had mirrors on the ceilings, which says a lot about what went on in them.
The rooms are pretty bare as most of the furniture and other belongings were looted.
Mexico is full of hidden gems and the city of Campeche is one of them. Located in the southeastern part of the country, about a 6 hour drive from Cancun, not many tourist make it out here. The historical centre is a colonial town, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also fortified, due to pirate attacks back in the day! Each building is a different color, many a shade of pastel. This makes the old town an absolute pleasure to wander through. I visited over a weekend in December of 2020 and here are my favorite photos from the trip:
The town is known for crab claws, or manos de cangrejos. They were delicious.
Speaking of seafood, this guy at the local market was very excited to show off his stingray.
Another popular (and slightly controversial) local dish in Campeche is cazon, or baby shark, as seen here.
Nothin' like the carne section of a Latin American market!
All Mexican towns have a colorful sign like this one.
Sunset on the malecon. The end.
Atlantis is a water park in Mexico City which closed in the 90’s. Over 20 years later, much of the parks structure still remains intact. It is a very unique and fairly easy spot for urban exploration.
The water park used to hold marine animal shows and you can still see the tanks where they used to hold them. Right next to the park is a water slide park, where the slides and wave pool are now covered in graffiti. The two parks are often both referred to as Atlantis, although they are technically different businesses. The water slide park originally opened as La Ola, and was later bought out by a company called El Rollo.
They are located in the third section of Chapultepec Park, or Bosque de Chapultepec. If you are familiar with Mexico City, you know that this section is very far from the main area of the park. It almost feels forgotten, as there are other abandoned areas, few people, and denser forest. It is not recommended to go here alone, especially at night.
I visited the parks in August of 2019. We took an Uber from where we were staying in the city. It’s very easy to find, if you Google ‘Atlantis’ or ‘El Rollo’, they still show up on Google Maps. To enter Atlantis, there was a hole in a fence that clearly had been trodden through many times. We exited La Ola/El Rollo through a door in a gate which was wide open.
We didn’t encounter anyone else throughout our visit. If you do come across security, supposedly 100-200 pesos will allow you to stay.
There is very little English information online, but lots in Spanish, so if you’d like to learn more try searching ‘parque acuatico Atlantis abandonado’. Here are my favorite photos:
Poison Festival is a psytrance festival in Huauchinango, Mexico. It takes place over the weekend of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The name of the festival says it all... this is a dark festival.
When I attended in 2018, there were 3 stages, all psytrance. Music blasts non-stop for 72 hours straight. I witnessed some of the craziest psytrancers I've ever seen here. It rained for three days straight. The dance floors and paths were literally mud holes deep enough to swallow your shoe. But this didn't stop the hardcore ones from partying right through. People were literally camped in the mud at the front of the stage. It had a much more intense vibe than Festival Ometeotl, another well-known psytrance festival in Mexico.
The rain made it difficult for me to actually enjoy this festival. I basically only had one other change of clothes, and so, much time was spent in my tent to stay dry. But hey, I danced a bit, and managed to get a few cool shots:
See the full album on my Facebook page.
The world Ometeotl, in a nutshell, refers to the Aztec God/creator/higher power. Ancient practices and ceremonies are integrated into the schedule, which is something really unique about this festival. It is great to see wisdom from the older generations being passed down to the consciousness explorers of today.
The festival takes places on a beautiful, spacious piece of land. A small lake separates the two stages from the workshop and campfire/tipi area. The camping area is tucked away on the other side of a river. There is also a market area, eating area, and visionary art gallery. Nothing is further than a 10 minute walk, which makes getting around very easy.
Mexican's love their psytrance, and although a variety of styles of music can be heard throughout the day, by night, the focus is hardcore psytrance. The music doesn't stop throughout the entire weekend. The dancefloor is taking off at any time of day. But there is still ample space to chill out, relax, and regroup.
Here are some of my favorite photos from the 2018 edition: