If you’ve wondered about those large packs of fresh-faced tourists in matching t-shirts, here’s their story.
A group of 200 young travelers from Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, plus Brazil and Portugal, arrived over the weekend to take in various tourist attractions and get history highlights. They are traveling under the auspices of the BBVA Ruta, a cultural exchange program that has been leading young travelers around the globe since 1979.
In recent years, the tour has hit Spain, Colombia and the Amazon rain forest. This year, the journey is “Adventure in the Mayan Jungles of Yucatán.” They set out June 29 and have finally made their way to the capital city after tours at the crocodile farm at Rio Lagartos, El Cuyo and the archaeological site Ek Balam.
Yesterday, the expedition saw the main attractions of the magical town of Izamal. Yesterday, they saw Mérida’s Historic Center and the Canton Palace. Today, it’s off to Celestun and Thursday, on to Campeche. On July 15, the group flies to Madrid to tour several Spanish towns.
Mexican Valeria Hernandez, who was born in Guadalajara and studies industrial engineering in Tijuana, told wire agency EFE that the importance of the BBVA Ruta is centered on “the opportunity for people from other countries know the culture and traditions” of their country.
“I made a lot of friends, but mostly it is a unique opportunity to leave tmy comfort zone and find myself,” said the girl, who stressed the “positive attitude” when some travel conditions get “difficult.”
This is the 38th year of BBVA Ruta, which is sponsored by a Spanish multinational bank that invites 18- and 19-year-olds on its journeys.
The program began in 1979 and at the suggestion of King Juan Carlos of Spain and journalist-adventurer Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo. Over the years, more than 9,000 young people from around the world have had the opportunity to travel and discover the human, geographic, social and historical dimensions of other cultures.