While Tulum, Mexico, has been dubbed an environmentally-sustainable and spiritual haven in the last decade, Jerry Justin Alexidor, the owner of Tulum-based company Black Zama, knew there was potential for something bigger. “Black Zama is to, more than just the party experience, connect the Black community to the rich culture of the Mayans of Tulum through our wellness experience,” said Alexidor. “We aim to show the similarities between the Mayans and us Africans in how we were able to build Pyramids and a whole civilization through math, science, and spirituality.”
History Of Black Communities In Tulum
Tulum is located in Quintana Roo, Mexico, a popular tourist destination known for its stunning beaches and Mayan ruins. Historically, there has been a small population of Afro-Mexicans in the region, primarily descendants of enslaved people brought over from Africa during the colonial period. However, due to discrimination, lack of economic opportunities, and cultural assimilation, the Black population in Tulum and other parts of Mexico have been marginalized and remain relatively small.
That being said, there are efforts by some members of the Afro-Mexican community to promote and celebrate their culture and history, including events and initiatives that highlight Afro-Mexican traditions and achievements.
The Birth Of Black Zama
Black Zama was born out of travel mishaps during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Alexidor decided to leave Los Angeles when the world was so quickly shutting down and knew he wanted to go somewhere rife with beautiful nature and more ability to distance himself socially. He not only found Tulum the ultimate refuge but a popular holiday destination that was missing something important: a luxury concierge service created mainly for the Black community. Alexidor knew he could provide these services, create success as a business, and build more into the community.
“When I was in Tulum during the pandemic, I would explore different places, experiences, excursions, restaurants, and more,” he said. “So when the US opened the border for travel, many of my friends would refer people to me to help them navigate Tulum with recommendations. It started becoming overwhelming, and I decided to make it a business. I already have customer experience, so it was just a matter of packaging the service correctly and tailor to meet the needs of travelers.” Before he knew it, Black Tulum was born.
From Black Tulum To Black Zama
Black Tulum was given a rebrand in March 2023 because Alexidor realized the company’s name needed to reflect its mission–connecting deeply with the native communities of Tulum. “Zama ” is the original Mayan name of Tulum, meaning the Dawn or to wake up. I believe it relates so much to the black community as Tulum or Zama is originally known as the Egypt of Mexico,” he explained. “So many similarities as we explore the Mayan culture and rituals with that with the Afrocentric people.”
What Black Zama Does For The Tulum Community
Black Zama is a travel concierge and event promotions company that provides travel services, information, and events for travelers coming to Tulum, Mexico, and the surrounding areas. The Black-founded company hosts celebrities, influencers, athletes, and more, booking their nightlife and dinner experiences to the best venues. Daily, the company interacts with reoccurring and potential future clients, helping them plan their trip to Tulum. They assist with booking all their travel needs, from transportation, villa stays, yacht rentals, dining experiences, parties, and more.
More importantly, however, they have created a community that connects the Mayans of yesteryear to the journeys of Afrocentric travelers of today. And what’s next for the company? “We plan to curate bigger and better unique experiences through partnerships and sponsors, and host live concerts with performances by urban artists, festivals, black art exhibits, and more,” said Alexidor. “We’re just getting started.”
Featured Photo Credit: Damon On Road on Unsplash