One of the most rewarding parts of travel for me is discovering places that haven’t been overrun with visitors before. There’s something about seeing corners of the world that many don’t know about that fulfills my need to see the world differently—it also makes travel seem more worthwhile than just hitting the hot spots.
An example of a destination like this for me was Chacala, Mexico. I went down with my boyfriend to visit a friend who owns a vacation rental business there and was astonished to find a world between the ancient and the modern. Karla took us to hidden spots that few had seen and were unlikely to grace Instagram pages—and one of these locations were the petroglyphs a few miles away from the beach.
Donning our hiking gear, we set out to explore the area. It was hot and humid, and I was glad to have brought some water with me as we went deeper and deeper into the jungle. I feel like most trips to Mexico are usually to resort towns or to the beach and it was wonderful to get off the beaten path for a bit.
The petroglyphs were incredible and we played a game of hide and seek with them as we tried to find the different characters who represented some of the ancient gods of the local people. We even came across some food and candles that had been left out by some of the residents of the nearby village who still paid homage to their past.
For me, the most amazing part was the end of our hike when we found ourselves in a secret grotto. I snapped a few pictures, trying to capture the magic feeling of the place. It truly felt like a spiritual place. Surrounded by carvings in the stone and the cool breezes from the nearby mountains, I felt as though I had stumbled upon sacred ground.
Chacala was a place that truly changed my perception of travel and what it is all about. Though I’m glad I’ve seen the major sights in Europe and have my pictures of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, I now continue to search for places that gave me that same feeling that the grotto did—a feeling of knowing a place not because I have seen it so many times in the media or pop culture, but because it has touched me on a deeper, more substantial level.
Have you ever found a place like that?