IN LAK ECH / TÚ ERES MI OTRO YO / YOU ARE MY OTHER ME
Oh Maya, you have taught me so much in under two weeks of traveling throughout your sacred lands. You have taught me that we are all connected. . . If you are my other me, then I am the other you and we are all one. And that includes the stars (EK), and the sun (KIN), and the flowers (LOL) and trees (CHE), all the elements and planets and animals too. Thanks for reminding me that I’m never alone. My journey continued when I left Izamal’s magical pyramid dedicated to Sun (click here), because more adventures in the Yucatán awaited. So I had arranged through my hotel for a pickup in Izamal by a private driver, whose name was José, who would drive me bright and early to UXMAL and several of the other Mayan sites along the Ruta Puuc. I had put my trust in the Universe that this local would drive me and my luggage throughout the day and he delivered. It was the most logical decision because he could drive me to the sites I wanted, I could stay and explore them for as long as I wanted and when finished he’d drive me finally to Mérida so that I could catch an overnight bus down to Chiapas. The price was $90 USD for the driving or $10/hour, with some flexibility. He wasn’t a tour guide. He was a local Maya descendant, from a town near Valladolid but living in Izamal with his family. We talked a lot during the drive. He explained that he is a freelance driver for tourists, often picking up people from as far as Cancún, Chichén Itzá, or various other tourist hubs in the Yucatán Peninsula.
UXMAL (pronounced OOSH-mahl) was our first stop, about a 2 hour drive from Izamal. This is one of the most visited on the Ruta Puuc, with many impressively preserved Mayan structures and temples. At the height of its empire, this Mayan city had 10,000 people. Mayan cities mainly served as Ceremonial Centers. Uxmal was no different. With two large pyramids on site and a half dozen other important structures, you could Get Lost In: Uxmal for hours. Entrance fee is about $15 USD for everyone except Mexican citizens who get a discount. I opted to check out the site without a guide. . . so come explore with me.
September in the Yucatán is a wet season, but not a cold one. As you can see by my attire, it was totally comfortable even in the rain. Gotta love that humidity!! If anything it just made for some blurry shots/difficlut photography at times, but I really enjoyed how few people were here this day. It made it much more mysterious. It seemed so grandiose with few souls around. Every time I saw a new building I was struck. The architecture here is incredible. The Pyramid of the Magician was unlike any of the other pyramids I had seen so far, so unique in its design. This temple/pyramid was built between 850-925 AD in the Terminal Classic Period. The columns of CHA’AC, one of the gods that RAINS supreme for the Maya, are magnificent. When I saw a small tour group nearby I decided to do a little snooping to hear what the guide had to say about the history here. I didn’t hear much, but one thing I found interesting was that the Maya believed that 5 was the EARTH LEVEL (includes the 4 cardinal levels and the center), 7 is representative of FERTILITY/FERTILIDAD, 9 is the number of UNDERWORLDS/INFRAMUNDOS. . . and 13 is the number of the HEAVENS/CIELOS. . . And these features were often represented in their architecture, shown here in UXMAL’s buildings which have either 5 doors/openings to show connection to the Earth, or if there are 9 doors then it represents the Underworld. The building dedicated to fertility here is full of SNAKE sculptures and has 7 openings. Snakes are symbolic of female energy and fertility in many cultures around the world. I felt quite at peace sitting in front of this particular building. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was connecting with my female power, just like I had in Tulum.
I continued to explore the grounds on my own and came upon the Ball Court/Campo de Pelota. The Ball Court was possibly 10 times tinier when compared to Chichén Itzá’s ball court, but for all Maya this was precisely where an important religious ceremony was held. In Mayan ULLI is the ball and HOM is the Ball Court. In this game players could only hit the ball with their elbows or hips.
The Ball Game, POKATOK in Mayan, was played here to honor the Mayan mythology where two brothers, Hunahpu & Xbalanque, played the same game against the gods of the Underworld.
And then I wandered over to the THE GREAT PYRAMID / LA GRAN PIRÁMIDE and I wasn’t expecting to be able to climb up it. Since the Pyramid of the Magician was off limits (to preserve it as it stands) I just figured all my exploring would be done on the ground level. I was truly excited to have the chance to climb my now fourth massive Pyramid in the Yucatán Peninsula. Just like in all the other sites, the views only get better from up high. Although there were those annoying couples attempting to take the perfect selfie here, I quickly found my zen. All I had to do was look out and breathe deep and show some gratitude for these moments.
Después de la tormenta siempre viene la calma / After the storm, comes the calm. . . But patience is key!
The gloomy morning turned sunny making for spectacular views from above and highlighting my gorgeous tan, México’s gift to me for my loyalty. One day, two pyramids climbed. What could possibly make this day any better? Uh, Animals! Birds and Iguanas in their habitat here made my day. Tell me what’s cooler than an animal that reminds you of Dinosaurs like the Iguana? Iguanas have fascinated me since I was a wee lass. Believe me when I say they were not easy to photograph, for I was likely interrupting their morning chill session. Still worth it!
I wrapped it up here at Uxmal because I wanted to see at least two more sites on the Ruta Puuc. There are many sites in the Yucatán Peninsula that have Puuc Architectural Style and most importantly for this day many of them were a short drive from one another. We headed to KABAH next, to a site a little smaller than Uxmal. It was also partially undergoing restoration, which made some parts off-limits and yet other areas had huge stone blocks that you could walk right up to, laid out in some order and numbered to eventually get placed in the proper position on some temple. Kabah “la mano poderosa/the powerful hand” was a city mainly built between 700 and 1000 AD, although it’s thought that Maya were here in some capacity as early as 500 BC. There is a SACBÉ (original road) here that leads all the way to Uxmal, highlighting their political connection. Unfortunately Kabah’s Maya were conquered by the Itzá Maya of Chichén Itzá. Centuries later, most Maya abandoned Kabah for unknown reasons.
Kabah was also nearly empty of visitors. I had free reign of the place. . . and just when I was really enjoying exploring this site I got stung by a big fat bee. And it fucking hurt, bad! I had switched into sandals because my Toms shoes were slightly wet from wet Uxmal. . . and a bee decided to fly underneath my foot but above my sandal. So it got smashed when I took a step and I got STUNG. Kicking my sandal off as I screamed, I pouted Why Bee?! I began to walk slowly to see how bad the damage was. Surely the last time I was stung I was under the age of 7. How long does the throbbing last? The problem was there were not just a few bees around. Tiny little flowers covered all the grassy areas of the site, and the bees were hard at work doing what bees do best (and I appreciate them for it), but they numbered in the hundreds, but really likely in the thousands on the 4km squared worth of land here. It didn’t matter where I stepped, I’d be walking into bee territory. So I had to cut this visit short. The more I hobbled around the site the more I feared I’d get stung again. . . so I just threw in the towel after taking the last few pictures here, in gorgeous KABAH.
Labná & Sayil are some other recommendations for you to check out yourself along the Ruta Puuc. I didn’t make it to these due to the slight swelling of the under part of my foot, but I did give gratitude (even to the dang BEE) and said ADIOS.