Chewing gum: legacy of the Maya at Bonanza Ranch

The Maya civilization left a rich cultural legacy which includes important gastronomic traditions, a good example of this is the manufacturing of chewing gum. They produced it and used it as an oral hygiene product; they called it “sicte”, which means vital fluid or blood in reference to the sap that flows inside trees, and which is the main ingredient in chewing gum.

Bonanza Ranch is a natural and well-preserved natural area ideally located in what used to be a Maya region, this is why it is still possible to find the source of such ingredient. If you would like to learn more about chewing gum’s history and manufacturing process you may want to continue reading this article.

Maya chewing gum history

The Maya used “sicte” for cleaning their gums because they knew of the antibacterial properties found in sapodilla’s tree sap. In order to produce this useful product they first had to obtain the sap by making some cuts through the tree’s bark. This technique has been passed from generation to generation till now.

The industrialization of chewing gum began during the 19th century when Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was living in exile in New York and introduced the product to the American scientist Thomas Adams.
Some years later the people that got established on the Maya region found chewing gum production very profitable, which later on spread along the whole state of Quintana Roo.

Chewing gum’s original manufacturing process

Nowadays the manufacturing process has become artificial and chewing gum is also consumed as candy.
However, there are still some Mexican companies, such as Chicza, that up to this time continue to use the original technique which consists of collecting a sufficient amount of sap from the tree by making zigzag-shape cuts through its bark, the next step is to boil it, add flavorings (Chicza chewing gum contains natural flavorings such as sugarcane juice, peppermint extract, agave syrup and a mix of secret ingredients), and once it has cooled down, the final product is ready for packaging and distribution.

Now that you have learned a little more about how chewing gum is made, come to Bonanza Ranch and see the sapodilla tree yourself, and also find Chicza’s chewing gum here at our souvenir store. Continue reading our blog where you will find interesting and useful articles, as well as the latest recommendations about our activities.

Cenotes: Crystal clear waters at Bonanza Ranch

Cenotes are a must-see when you visit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A cenote is a natural sinkhole formed by the filtering of rain water through the soft, porous limestone which is typical of the region. They can be found open to the surface or underground, in the latter case, cenotes are connected by underground tunnels forming rivers where thousands of flora and fauna species inhabit.

Here at Bonanza Ranch, we feel very proud to have one of this natural habitats inside our facilities. For this reason, we provide you with useful information before you take a dive in its mystical waters.

Meaning and origin of cenotes

The word cenote comes from the Mayan word “Tz’onot”, which means “water well”. According to Maya cosmogony, cenotes were considered as the entrance to the Mayan underworld Xibalba, which translates as “World of the dead”, and it was the place where the souls had to go through several tests imposed by the Lords Hun-Camé, Ahalcaná or Vucub-Camé, as mentioned in the Mayan narrative Popol Vuh (text that describes the origins of the universe).

Nowadays we know that cenotes are the result of a natural process in which the ceiling of a cave collapses due to water accumulation. Cenotes are classified as open, semi-open, underground and cave cenotes that were formed due to changes in sea levels during glacial periods of the Pleistocene geological epoch.

How to preserve cenotes

Cenotes play a very important role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.  This is why we should take good care of them by doing the following:

  1. Shower before getting in to wash off deodorant, sunscreen, insect repellent, hair conditioner and shampoo. These chemical substances can cause a serious damage.


  1. Use the restroom before swimming, once inside you may feel the urge to go, due to the cool temperature of the water; and this can contribute to its contamination.


  1. Respect local wildlife, here you will admire an array of plants and animals such as fish, turtles, water lilies, coatis and spider monkeys. Please observe them quietly, we will take care of the photographs.


  1. If you visit a cave, please make sure you DO NOT touch the stalactites or stalagmites. They are formed over a period of hundreds of years and the oil on human body prevents them from growing.


  1. For safety reasons please wear a lifejacket when necessary, even if you are a good swimmer.

Now that you know a little more about cenotes, come and live it yourself in our tour. Continue reading our blog where you will find interesting and useful articles, as well as the latest recommendations about our activities at Bonanza Ranch.


Combining Animal Welfare and Conservation with Travel at Bonanza Ranch


Mexico is very commonly known for its unique and delicious food, but if you travel here as an animal lover or eco-warrior, you will also have the opportunity to try so many different experiences while also helping people, animals, and the environment!

Bonanza Ranch in Riviera Maya is an example of a small family run horseback riding center that has rescued and nursed back to wellness countless species of animals that would otherwise have perished due to neglect.

Part of the magic that you will experience at Bonanza Ranch is the unconditional love that our four legged friends display to our visitors. Maya the three legged dog and Valentino the Alsatian are always on the lookout for a treat and a hug.

Whether you’re interested in preserving Mexico´s unique underground rivers system or wildlife conservation, there is something meaningful for everyone who visits Bonanza Ranch.

You can make a difference in the lives of so many animals, and continue changing and making the world a better place.

During your visit, you’ll learn so much about Mexican fauna and have the chance to meet our friendly guides who bring the Bonanza experience to life in a unique and interesting way with anecdotes about Mexico´s fascinating history.

Each time you visit the ranch you will learn something new as you explore the cenotes and the densely vegetated jungle fauna. You can even show off your Spanish speaking skills with our staff and animals.

Both are bilingual by the way!

As a visitor, you will have a lot of questions about the surroundings and many of our patrons have stayed involved with the ranch even long after they have returned home. And every time they return to the Riviera Maya, they come back to visit our stables to catch up on how their four-legged friends are doing.

Visit Bonanza Ranch and do more than you could have ever imagined. You will make lifelong friends, lasting memories, and perhaps even change the lives of those around you.