It is a bittersweet experience to visit the haciendas, much like going to see the cotton plantations of the American South. Planted with a type of agave plant called henequen, the Mayans were enslaved to work the fields, harvest the henequen and process it into sisal. Sisal, a valuable commodity used around the world to make ropes, ship’s rigging, and twine came to be known as “green gold”. Like cotton, it created fortunes for a few, but made life desperately hard for the many. The rein of henequen ended when synthetics were developed, replacing the need for sisal.
Today’s haciendas range in condition from mere piles of rubble overtaken by jungle, to luxury resorts. Many are open to the public and can be visited. Some are private. A few, such as Yaxcopoil, are museums kept in the style of the time, devoted to telling the poignant tale of the green gold.
|Kitchens were apart from the main house|
|Henequen processing machinery|
|Mayan artifacts from the property|
|Metates y manos|