The ancient game of ulama has been played in Mesoamerica for the past 3,500 years, making it the oldest sport in the world. Archaeologists discovered evidence that it was played from northern Mexico as far south as Nicaragua, surviving the rise and fall of civilizations to maintain a cult following to this day.
Teams of players line up on either side of a court made up of a long alleyway flanked by walls off of which the large rubber ball can bounce, and points are scored when one team fails to keep the ball in play. Different versions of the game were played in different regions, but predominantly the hips are used to manipulate the ball, no mean feat when it can weigh up to nine pounds.
Other forms of the game involved using the arms or wooden rackets, and courts have been uncovered during archaeological digs all over the region, including prominent Mayan sites Tikal and Chichen Itza.
Historically the game carried religious significance, with ritualized games played at religious festivals. Some of these games were a matter of life and death, ending in human sacrifice which saw losing players decapitated. The Spanish drove ulama underground after they banned it due to this practice, leading to a sharp decline in popularity from which the game has never recovered.
Although ulama is a dying sport in modern times, there remains a small band of dedicated players who are fighting to preserve the ancient tradition. Sadly they appear to be fighting a losing battle, and to see a game, or participate in one yourself, you’ll have to get yourself to Mexico, and fast.
We can see it now and remember when it happened to us: Watching as the black car icon loops around and around, seemingly endlessly, and our wait time on the rideshare app continually changes. Long wait times and confused drivers are just a few bothersome issues that can nag at rideshare users. Need a solution? Ditch rideshares altogether in favor of renting a car on your next trip.
Spring in Philadelphia is a beautiful time. The flowers are blooming, there are people out enjoying nature and Philadelphia’s festival season begins. There are festivals year-round; however, the spring festivals draw much bigger crowds and get Philadelphians ready for a fun and enjoyable summer. Each festival is unique and it’s worth attending as many as possible to fully enjoy the city.
Dining is an art, and now that applies to both on the ground and at 35,000 feet thanks to Hainan Airlines’ “Hai Chef” Inflight Artistic Chinese cuisine series, a collaboration with Dong Zhenxiang, a Chinese culinary master also known as Dadong.
Book the Night on a Glacier experience, available May–September, from Off the Map Travel, to not only spend a one-of-a-kind night in a one-of-a-kind destination, but also enjoy your chance at seeing Norway’s magnificent polar bears.