Ancient Art of Lentil Torture in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

I didn’t really know what most of the activities planned for us in Mexico actually were. I, along with several other travel bloggers, had been invited down for a long weekend as guests of the Hacienda Tres Rios Resort. Tres Rios is located in the heart of the idyllic Riviera Maya, south of Cancun.

Yes I received an agenda and yes I read through it, but I honestly didn’t process most of what I read. There was something that caught my eye though and it involved the words adventure and spa.

Every resort has a spa and most of them have treatments or experiences completely unique to the property. Tres Rios is no exception and they proudly wanted us to experience their signature treatments in their eco park: the SenseAdventure and Temazcal. Funny, reading these words now produces a long, deep shudder and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to be treated for post traumatic stress disorder in the near future.

The SenseAdventure was the first of the two experiences and I was honestly really looking forward to it. Here’s what I thought it would be, based on nothing but my own imagination: a summer camp like experience where you are blindfolded and given foods to taste and strange textures to feel. In reality, the experience was a seemingly endless, blindfolded walk in the jungle with freaky noises and some guy throwing seeds at you and dousing everyone with water.

Solo Traveler buried in lentils

At first it was cute. Deprived of sight, our other senses  instantly became heightened and I was curious about the imaginative ways in which the tour leader would take advantage of this sudden deprivation. What Dr. Mengele led us through though was a series of stations which included pouring water over everyone’s head, dumping pounds and pounds of lentils on us all (I’m still picking them out of my shoes) and many other pointless and thoroughly annoying activities.

For some reason I still don’t fully understand, being partially buried in lentil seeds is somehow supposed to put me in better touch with my soul and the world around me. Forgive me for being cynical, but playing new age music and blowing incense in my face does not a spiritual experience make. Rather than achieve a new plane of bodhisattva, I sat in the jungle cross-legged, drenched in sweat and water with hundreds of seeds sticking to EVERY possible part of my body wondering how best to escape blindfolded without falling into a cenote.

In college I was in a fraternity which, like most Greek organizations had an initiation ceremony. The SenseAdventure was worse – much worse. It also lacked what at least my fraternity initiation offered – a point.

After it was over, the leader wanted us to remove our blindfolds and sit on logs and reflect on the experience. I reflected by beginning the long and ongoing process of removing a veritable UN aid shipment worth of seeds from my hair. I was expecting that a lot of my fellow bloggers would feel the same and be a little miffed at the waste of our valuable time at the property. I could’ve been lounging in one of the beach beds! Imagine my shock that with only 1 or 2 exceptions, everyone instantly began fawning over the entire experience. “How amazing,“ said one; “what a personal, spiritual journey,” confessed another.

Are you kidding me? A personal journey to where? I may be a wee bit jaded, but I saw absolutely no redeeming features to the experience except that the resort at least has the good sense not to charge guests for the opportunity to illegally transport lentils all over the world.

I instantly felt bad for not loving the experience and I could tell that our hosts were honestly a little disappointed that I wasn’t a changed person. But I wasn’t and I’m not going to lie and say that I enjoyed it or gained anything from it; I didn’t.

If you visit the resort though, contrary to what everyone will expect me to say, I think you should absolutely participate in the SenseAdventure. While I may not have become an enlightened one, it is impossible to know what will move any of us or force us to reflect on our lives and the people in them and such a unique chance to at least try the SenseAdventure should definitely not be squandered.

I, however will respectfully skip the tour in the future but, on the upside, I’m starting a garden at home with the seeds still pouring from my shoes.

For a completely different perspective on the same experience, please visit SoloTraveler’s article Zen Travel – Solo Travel.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

15 Responses

  1. Andi

    Looks like beautiful surroundings!!!

    Reply
  2. Gail K.

    I am so glad to hear that you felt that same way that I would have felt. I don’t enjoy experiences like that and can understand your frustration and non-enjoyment. However, I know that sometimes it is nice to be able to say that you tried something new, even if you didn’t get anything out of it.

    Reply
  3. Rachelle

    Great post! I cracked up at the comment … “drenched in sweat and water with hundreds of seeds sticking to EVERY possible part of my body” … I just found lentils this week in my laundry … still.

    Very well written. I enjoy new experiences, though they sometimes make us uncomfortable. A day of peace and quiet at the beach or an evening watching a meteor shower is much more of a spiritual retreat for me. :o)

    Reply
  4. Verity

    Hehe… lentil torture. It sort of reminded me of that halloween trick where you get people to touch different items while blindfolded and tell them it’s really gross stuff. Like peeled grapes are eyeballs.

    I don’t think I would have been able to not giggle if someone was pouring lentils over me. I love how in the first picture everyone has still got seeds stuck to them.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      LOL, yeah I was finding lentils in my shoes for WEEKS after the trip. :)

      Reply
  5. nithya (Life Out of a Suitcase)

    i just saw a great recipe for lentil soup today! can i borrow some from your shoe? ;)

    Reply
  6. Niamh Burns

    I read the Tweet and immediately thought – wow, I never heard of anything like this in the history I’ve read about the Yucatan Peninsula…I so enjoyed your article this morning, your sense of humour and sarcasm translates perfectly on to the page. Good job, this really made me giggle.
    Must say though I too would be very nervous to have anyone deprive me of my main sense and to fire different objects at me…would also be nervous that I’d end up extremely irritated and would risk throwing a complete tantrum and would bury that person by throwing it all back at them!

    Reply
  7. Cynthia Scarborough

    Ok. Are they kidding? That sounds like an experience I would willingly avoid. Good thing you didn’t have a lot of hungry jungle birds around. They would have pecked you to death trying to get at the lentils!

    Reply
  8. Idelish (Jeremy & Shirlene)

    What an interesting experience! I think I would’ve offended the operators because I’m sure I’d be giggling and will be looking confused the entire experience! I’m not sure if we’d give the SenseAdventure a go.. we might enjoy our time lounging at the beach more! Thanks for the heads up! :)

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      LOL, well I hope you also read Janice’s piece I linked to in the article – she had a completely different experience.

      Reply
  9. Ellen

    It proves the point that people searching for the meaning of life will cling to anything, including lentils.

    Reply
  10. ClaireWalter

    When I read your opening graph about being in a group of travel bloggers invited to the Riviera Maya, I thought, “Why not me?” As I read on (laughing out loud more than once at your choice of words), I thought, “Thank goodness, not me.” I recently went to a Blind Cafe dinner, where guests eat in a totally blacked-out room on food served by a blind waitstaff and then have an opportunity to ask questions about what it’s like to live without the sense of sight.

    I wrote “The Blind Cafe: It’s Not About the Food” about this empathetic experience that helped those who can see understand how others manage without a sense that most of us take for granted. SenseAdventure, with the water dump and lentil cascade, seems more an exercise in self-indulgence. I have to agree with Ellen, that “people searching for the meaning of life will cling to anything, including lentils.

    Reply

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