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Sunday, 28 May 2000

Our Honeymoon

Chichen Itza

The best preserved / restored of the Mayan sites and certainly impressive. We were lucky enough to arrive early in the day - our hotel was actually on the site (and incidently built largely from bits of Mayan ruins) but when we left at about 11am there were hundreds of people queing to get in.

The site was in active use for hundreds of years and is thought to have been a 'university town' - one of the buildings has carvings of hindus, red Indians and Greek soldiers - all dating from before America had been discovered!

El Castillo - the main pyramid at Chichen Itza & perfectly constructed for use as the civil calendar and on the solstices the light falls so that it looks like a rattlesnake is descending / ascending a stair case. Rattlesnakes are noticeable everyone on Mayan architecture.
chichen itzachichen itza
From Mexico

From the top of El Castillo the view stretches into the distance across secondary growth jungle, only a few buildings - mostly ruins peek above the tree tops.

Most buildings have been subject to large amounts of restorations, generally starting out as a pile of stones best, with someone labelling every stone - hard puzzles

The Observatory - perfect construction in alignment with stars and planets and used for the religious calendar.

Our hotel room was in an idyllic setting and a pool almost exclusively ours.

Valladolid

A pretty little town with a very big church and a well tended square in the centre but both are marred by horrendous concrete madonnas and Christs.
izamal
From Mexico
Rio Lagartos

A large, protected, lagoon area where wildlife and boat drivers alike thrive on the tourist industry. I suspect the boat drivers are doing better at it than the wildlife as the technique to make the wildlife look lively and attractive was simply to drive straight at any quiet animals until the ran / swam or flew away.

The flamingoes were fabulous, merely pale pink when wading in the sandy, blue water but intense, almost flourscent pink showing under their wings when flying.

The colour contrasts were spectacular - that deep blue sky with white streaks of cloud, washed out white of sand with sandy blue water, vibrant green, mangroves in the waters' edge and vivid red salt 'farms' on the seaward side This poor alligator was basking quietly in the sun until out of nowhere our boat and two others starting jostling to get their charges closest for photos, the alligator soon retreated and one of the boats grounded itself.
rio lagartos
From Mexico
Balankamche

Set in an interesting, tropical jungle, botanical garden are the caves of Balamkanche and our second sound and light show. 5 out of 7 people had slept at least part way through the first back at Chichen but no such luck here.

The cave system is one way, about a kilometre from start to finish and no a single puff of fresh air all the way. Sweat was pouring off everyone by the end as we dealt with the strain of walking, even such a short distance with no fresh air, that air had been breathed for centuries by the Mayan people and was just about good enough for us too.

Izamal

The largest atrium in Latin America. Now don't get too excited folks. This is an impressive nunnnery because of its size and the way it utterly dominates the surrounding town.

It's all built on the base of and from the stones of a large pyramid and it's not entirely surprising that it's big. The pyramid was reported by the Spaniards to be so large that they could see the sea from the top - a sea that is 80km away.

Merida

Merida is a modern university town reputed to have more millionaires per head of population than anywhere else in the world. Most of that money was made on the back of the sizel industry which although still active and generating incomes for many farmers is a failing industry what with modern materials like nylon.

In the town centre there are tourist police whose job it was to look after toursits and nothing else. So the stunning structure (modern) situated on a roundabout in the middle of a main road was no problem to reach with the help of tourist police to stand in front of the traffic for you.

Merida was once a small town, unlike the large town of Merida in Guatemala. Somehow the plans for the local church for either town got mixed up and the Guatemalans ended up with a tiddly chapel for a large population whilst the Meridans got a full blown cathedral which only recently have they grown into.
merida
From Mexico
Uxmal

This is a much smaller site than Chichen with less restoration having taken place so far and many more buildings packed into this smaller area.

With the air of unrestored wildness and lack of tourist hordes Uxmal had a magical quality.

The Magician's Pyramid, rebuilt from a pile of rubble but originally being enlarged for over 400 years.

The Nunnery Quadrangle so named because the small rooms reminded the Spaniards of a nunnery. The face of this building is covered is elaborate carvings of Chac.

The Dovecote has an unusual roof comb on top of numerous 'cells' believed to be small family homes.

The two headed jaguar throne was the traditional seat of rule. The last is at uxmal because the Spaniards struck a head off any they found to dissolve the ruler's power.

The Governor's Palace, a long imposing structure on top of a small man made plateau.
uxmal
From Mexico
Kabah

The Puuc route follows a low ridge across the Yucatan, offering both defensive height and fertile soil all the towns along the route share a similar architectural style.

Codz Poop, the main building - not cod poop, is finely carved with Chac decorations.

Armadillo is just one of the many critters which get eaten, the children catch them in the jungle and try to sell them to tourists too! (why?).

It rained there.

Labna

Again, on the Puuc Route another small town with a large stone arch which was just a part of a building between two courtyards. Unfortunately, that photo was rubbish!
sayil
From Mexico
Sayil

Once more on the Puuc Route another small town with evidence of surrounding villages. The main feature though is this 3 tier palace with many rooms.

It took a quite a while before anyone suggested to the Mayans that buildings could exist on more than one floor.

Each tier of building was constructed in a different architectural style and period.

Playa del Carmen

Our all inclusive hotel, hot & cold running food and drink. Too many hot dogs and refreshments were had by all.

Sometimes I could get a photo not covered in hordes of people.

The sea was a beautiful colour but after about 10am the sea started getting rather choppy.

We spent a day at Rancho Loma Bonita, a ranch designed for tourists in a beautiful setting with foals running around the gardens playing together and a swimming pool and bar conveniently available for guests.

Lorna went horse riding and got wet too! I went quad biking but didn't. Good day had by all (except the woman who got squashed by an overturning bike of course).

We got to play donkey polo- a bit of a hopeless task. Mine was so small that I had to plant my feet and drag it where I wanted to go. I wasn't the only one with a donkey as stubborn as a mule.
playa del carmen
From Mexico
Final score 0-0.

Click here to goto my Mexico album in Picasa

As a footnote, I can only apologise for the quality of the photos - these were taken before I had a digital camera and were not the finest before I scanned them in!