A Travellerspoint blog

Uxmal

A god called chuck

22/11/09 - Uxmal, Yucatan State, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Random occurrences>>>blokes giving Kevin the thumbs up for wearing a Panama hat
What´s annoying me>>>getting scammed at internet cafe

In the morning we took the bus to Uxmal from Merida along Highway 261. If you like looking at trees while travelling on coaches then Mexico is your wet dream. Salma Hayek is my wet dream. But that's neither here nor there.

As a rule, I don´t like to look up bus times in advance. I just like to turn up at a bus terminal and let fate dish out whatever she has in store for me. Sometime it can mean sitting for hours in a terminal. However, I am travelling with other people so I have no choice as they like to ´plan´ ahead.

Uxmal (pronounced oosh-mal) represents the finest achievment of the PUUC architectural style. As in every Maya site in the Yucatan, the face of chac, the rain god, is everywhere. Little is known of the city´s history, but the chief monuments were erected around 900 AD. Sometime after that, the city began to decline, and by 1200 Uxmal and other Puuc sites, together with Chichen Itza, were all but abandoned.

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The big pyramid
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As we walked through the site and climbed the pyramids, the views were breathtaking.

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Nice bird
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Some flowersIMG_0818.jpg

When we got back to Merida in the evening, we decided to go to a ´cantina´in one of the roughest areas of the city. There appeared to be tense but surreal atmosphere in the bar. There was latino music blaring out from one side and one of the Harry Potter films showing in the other. Occasionally a Britney Spears number would punctuate the latino music. We had a couple of large bottles of Sol and left just as a fight was breaking out.

Tomorrow we embark on a boat trip through a bio-sphere.

Posted by Señor Usuf 16:08 Comments (0)

More Beach

Chilling out on the beach

21/11/09 - Progreso Beach, Yucatan State, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

What I am worried about>>>pickpockets, mosquitos
Random occurrence>>>A street ´clown´picking on us ´gringos´for the amusement of his audience

We had not decided what to do today. After much discussion, I decided to head for the beach at Progresso while Kevin and Michael wanted to explore Merida.

Progresso is a working port with a long and broad beach with fine sand though unlike the beaches we visited on the Carribean ocean, the gulf of Mexico coast water isn´t clear. I spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach then have a wander around the small town.

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Some guy flying some sort of a flying contraption

When I get back to Merida I visit Catedral de San Ildeforno in the main plaza. It was built in the second half of 16th century but there is very little of interest inside as all the valuables were looted during the Mexican revolution.

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Inside the Cathedral

In the evening there is a downpour and Keving decides to purchase a Panama hat. And, er, that´s it.

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Pissing down
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Tomorrow we will visit Uxmal because someone has to.

Posted by Señor Usuf 17:48 Comments (0)

Festival Time

Small-town city

20/11/09 Merida, Yucatan State, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

What I am worried about>>>Tiny little bugs in our hotel, hundreds of them
Random occerrences>>>Guy following us around for ages for no apparent reason

I wake up to find there are lots of noises coming from outside (well, more so than usual). There appears to be some sort of a festival going on today in Valladolid. People in costumes are proceeding through narrow streets. It´s a strange parade with a brass band leading the way, first with sombre tunes and then bursting into more up-tempo numbers such as ´when the saints go marching in´. Trucks carrying enormous speakers play traditional Mexican music like ´Girls just wanna have fun´by Cindi Lauper and ´Thriller´by Michael Jackson. The paraders are an eclectic bunch: schoolgirls in cheerleader outfits, women in white dresses and hats, men in traditional Mexican mariachi-type suits. I ask some pretty girls if it would be alright for me to take a picture of them. They are more than happy for me to do so. I then ask them if they want to come back to our hotel for ´coffee´ but they seem less obliging. I made the last bit up.

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Some girls I pulled...
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The parade is all very charming but I am worried that with so many roads blocked off for the procession, there might not be any buses running.

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One man and his dog

I was wrong to worry as there are buses running. We make the 3 hour journey to Merida very smoothely. Nicknamed ´la ciudad blanca´after it´s white limestone buildings, Merida is the state capital of Yucatan State. The first thing I notice up arrival is that despite being a big city with over 1 million population and thousands of visitors, both Mexican and foreign, it has a calm, small-town geniality.

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The main square which is always very busy
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Some kids playing football

We have lunch in late afternoon on the second floor of a restaurant overlooking the main plaza. The celebrations we encountered in Valladolid appear to be country-wide as the plaza is being prepared for a parade. We are not sure the celebrations are about ("probably some sort of anniversary" says Michael helpfully) but it makes for a very exciting evening.

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After lunch we go the hotel where Pete and Selina said they will be staying to find that they have already gone to Campeche. They next time I will see them will be in the UK.

After the excitement of the parade we hit a few pubs and bars around town. We try to decide what to do tomorrow: the beach in Progresso; the biosphere nature reserve in Celestun or the ruins of Uxmal. Life as a tourist can be tough.

Posted by Señor Usuf 08:25 Comments (0)

Ek Balam

More Ruins

19/11/09 Ek Balam, Yucatan State, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Random occurences>>>two dogs following us all 1.5km walk to the ruins

We took a taxi to Ek Balam as there appearred to be no buses going there and finding collectivos was too much hassle. The road leading up to Ek Balam is surrounded by forests and is barely wide enough for a single car. The only vehicles appear to be taxis and collectivos´.

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Lunch is served shockingly fresh in Mexico

I can´t remember whose idea it was to visit Ek Balam but it was an inspired choice. Ek Balam is little visited (there were ahrdly any tourists there as opposed to the stampede we encountered at Chichen Itza) but it is well excavated and has detailed and high quality sculptures. The big buiñding in the pictures is the Acropolis which is 200 metres long. Climbing to the top by the steep stairs is precarious but well worth it.

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Ek Balam
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Is that the way to Japan?
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Great view

After visiting the ruins we took a dip in another Cenote. As I forgot to bring my swimming gear, I had to swim in my boxers again.

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Walking through the jungle
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Some hippies we encountered
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Another day, another cenote
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Faffing about in the cenote - the water is cool and there are loads of fishies

I have began to pick up some Spanish and can now order food and ask basic questions, albeit in a really awkward fashion. And I don´t understand the replies because they speak too fast. For example, I went inside an internet cafe and asked what time they closed (que hora cerrado) but I couldn´t understand a word of what she replied. I looked at her blankly for a while then repeated the question louder. That´ll understand them.

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Valladolid at sunset

Tomorrow we are going to leave Valladolid and take a bus to Merida which is still in the Yucatan State but nearer to the Gulf of Mexico. All very exciting indeed.

Posted by Señor Usuf 14:45 Comments (0)

Road to Ruins

Lots of old stuff yeah

18/11/09 Chichen Itza, Yucatan State, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

What I´m worried about>>>Running out of money, boredom, backaches from carrying heavy loads

We caught a bus from Valladolid to Chichen Itza, ´the most famous, the most extensively restored and by far the most visited of all the Maya sites´.

Timekeeping in Mexico is really crap. A bus that is meant ot go every half hour can go at any time the driver feels like it. Our bus to Chichen Itza was meant to depart at 10:30 but departed at 10:45ish.

The Chichen Itza site is absolutely trummelled by tourists. There are clusters of people everywhere all with their own tour guides. We decide against hiring one as it is prohibitively expensive if you don´t have a massive group. Besides, I prefer to read about historic places.

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Chichen Itza was established around 300 AD, and began to flourish in the Terminal Classic period (between 800 and 925 AD). Much of the evidence at the site - human sacrifice, huge ball-court - points to a strong influence from Central Mexico. This may have been as a result of the City´s defeat to the Toltecs. Another theory is that the itza people were not Toltec invaders, but fellow Maya who had migrated from the south.

Some useful information there that I´m sure you will appreciate.

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Columns

Outside the site a collection of hawkers take the opportunity to sell food, drinks and personal grooming. One guy was selling digital watches and Brut aftershave, items I wouldn´t have thought were big in demand just before entering a famous archaelogical site. After I declined the Brut, he demonstrated how the watch face of one of his watches flipped open to reveal a calculator. He obviously thought that this was a big deal and seemed certain that the demonstration would have me reaching into my pocket for money. He seemed genuinely shocked when I declined and started the demonstration again thinking I missed something the first time. I joined the others and went into the site.

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I decide to buy a place in Mexico

Going throught the entrance, then through the trees the main pyramid (Castillo) is a site worth beholding. It is big and imposing. I went trigger happy with the camera again and took lots and lots of pictures.

Today we said goodbye to Pete and Selina as they want to move on to Merida the state capital of Yucatan State. We said we will try to meet them there in a couple of days time but that looks unlikely as our schedules are a bit out of sync.

Outside the site we we waved down a bus back to the dusty lot that saerves as Valladolid´s bus station. We spent the evening drinking beer beside the pool as we did the night before.

Tomorrow we will visit Ek Balam. I´ll tell you all about in boring detail.

Posted by Señor Usuf 14:31 Comments (0)

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