It’s not uncommon that some days while living my life here in Europe that I get this NOSTALGIA PARA MI MÉXICO LINDO. . . could be triggered by just about anything really. It could be someone talking about the country, or during a meal where I long for something spicy and more packed with flavor, or it could be a still moment when the internal computer of my mind is working, scrolling through photos of my travels of the past years and then zeroes in on all those KICKASS TRIPS To México I have been blessed to experience. It’s the country that I have traveled to the most times, more than 7 times. My very first trip to México was also my VERY FIRST FLIGHT of my life, boarding an airplane bound for México City at the ripe old age of 2 (carrying a little briefcase full of coloring pages and stickers like a true Boss). I don’t have memories per se of that particular trip, but I have seen some photos and . . .
I know that it is in the blood running through my veins, México: the country of my roots/el país de mis raíces.
2016 was #thesummerofAriana as I traveled throughout Europe learning about myself more and more through SOLA TRAVEL, but back in September 2015 I decided to do my first real SOLA TRIP. . . can you guess where?
TO MÉXICO!! So that’s where all this confidence of traveling was born, this drive to see and understand better myself and others through the places I visit. I have loved writing about some of the incredible places I saw in that month of traveling to: TULUM, COBÁ, CHICHÉN ITZÁ, VALLADOLID, all in the YUCATÁN PENINSULA which you can read by clicking here. But I never finished sharing all my advice and the history that I learned that summer. . . so I’m back at it now. EK BALAM you say. . . Mayan Ruins? Well that’s precisely where I had left off.
From Valladolid, my new friend Odeya and I set off one morning for Ek Balam, one of the more recently discovered Mayan Ruins in the Yucatán. It’s only 25km from Valladolid and therefore is a popular day trip. Taxis leave from near the ADO Station and charge 40 pesos per person each way (but generally you have to wait for the taxi to fill up before he’ll leave). You will be luckier in the early morning because people will be leaving the city for nearby towns where they work and you’ll fill up a taxi faster. From Chichén Itzá, Ek Balam is only 56km, which means it was surely in a very strategic location, close enough to have had contact and trade with other important Mayan Cities. My tour guide inside the ruins told me that this city used to be called TALOL, which means flower/flor in maya. I highly recommend hiring a local guide at these ruins because they are quite newly discovered and are currently in the process of excavation. There really isn’t too much information about this site, its history, etc. on the internet for example. The locals have the most up to date information and I was happy to have toured with a nice young guide. All guides have to be certified too, which takes time and their own money, so it’s a great way to support passionate locals who learn all about their history to share it with us. I don’t remember how much I paid, but because the Dollar is stronger compared to the Peso I’m sure it was reasonable.
Dating from 100 BC to its height at 700-1,200 BC the Mayan empire here was well situated and the massive principal structure/temple demonstrates the powerful leaders that likely ruled here. There is also an Arch (entrance to this city) which connects to a sacbe (ancient road) on each side. My guide told me that it was purposeful that there is an incline here at the entrance, so that you have to bow in order to enter the city, like asking permission from them.
Compared to Chichén Itzá with its crowds and crowds and even Cobá with a number of groups touring its site, Ek Balam felt so isolated. I was walking and discovering this ancient Mayan city practically all by myself and I didn’t mind. It felt more special this way. We walked around an area which he said was likely the homes of the common people, workers and laborers. Rooms were small as families often shared just one room to sleep. I am standing atop ruins of these houses/ruinas de casas in the photos below. I like the not knowing though. Archeologists and historians are always piecing things together, coming to conclusions and then regurgitating to us what they have discovered to be AND YET we cannot possibly know what was. There are some mysteries still in life and I’m okay with that. We know there were MAYA here, that’s for sure, but some other things we can’t be 100% sure of.
So while my guide talked to me about some facts and discoveries I couldn’t help but go off on my own tangent letting my mind drift where it would. At one point, I was staring out at another MASSIVE MAYA PYRAMID/TEMPLE and I just knew in my heart that there had been a great civilization here. Nobody had to tell me. He asked me if I was ready to climb “the Acropolis” and I hesitantly said yes because I wasn’t wearing the proper shoes (I was wearing flip-flops and a bathing suit in case we had time for a swim in a cenote). When we made our way over to the most impressive structure at Ek Balam and I looked up at its sheer size it was imposing, it was grandiose and I took the time needed to ask permission before taking my first up. I had some anxiety when the time came. We all know I had already become an expert at climbing ancient pyramids since I experienced Cobá and now I was just taking it one step further by climbing another but in havaianas flip flops.
Slowly I climbed, because there was no rush. . . determined to make it because I knew I’d have that Ahhhhhhhhhhh moment at the top.
There are some beautiful sculptures in the process of being excavated, such artistry here in the representations of the Maya and in the glyphs (mayan symbols for writing). Your entrance fee goes to pay for some of the work being done, although my guide told me he also volunteers sometimes to help in some excavations without being paid. It’s worth it to him to uncover more and more about this site. That’s history though, sometimes it’s covered by jungles for centuries before someone starts making a fuss and digging. It would be great to return one day and see the city much more revealed, though that’s also when the crowds come. I’m happy to have come to this city of Ek Balam and experienced it in this phase. It reminds me that México holds so many treasures, so many secrets too still underneath jungle. . .
After carefully climbing back down to TERRA level, because being that high up makes you feel much more connected to the COSMOS, my visit had come to an end. Odeya and I met back up as she had opted to swim in the cenotes and not tour the site. Once at Ek Balam transportation out of the site is a little trickier. There were a couple taxis lined up, but if there aren’t people leaving when you’d like to, you could end up waiting a long time for the taxi to fill up with other paying customers, or you have to pay more than 40 pesos each to get back to Valladolid. I think we negotiated down a bit from the price he initially wanted to charge us, and it was fair because once out of the Ruins site he picked up other people along the way on the journey back. Lastly I included a photograph of the tree of Mayan gods, which was a map belonging to my tour guide. He was extremely proud of it, of this history. He also was kind enough to show me in one of the Mayan Calendars (based on my birthdate) that I am AAK/ TORTUGA/ TURTLE. Aak is the 13th and last step of the Mayan Genesis and represents:
WISDOM & EXPERIENCE
“The turtle was considered a wise animal by the Maya. They are quiet, constant and friendly.”
Some days I feel wiser than others but one thing I am certain of, in life I seek to experience the most that I can of this world and then share what I have learned with others. If you want to continue hearing about MAGICAL MAYAN SITES and the rest of my Summer of Sola Travel in my MÉXICO LINDO then Subscribe to this blog! AAK has so much more to share.
Click here for the next post in the series. . . Con todo mi amor <3!