May 3, 2006

Mérida, Mexico

I've been hanging out with a pair of entertaining Australians (Adam and Russel), and when they invited me to join them for an afternoon trip to some big Mayan ruins, I couldn't say no.

The 2nd class bus that we purchased tickets for—which was a laughably challenging event in and of itself—casually inched us south towards the town of Uxmal (pronounced Oosh-mahl), about 60 miles outside of Mérida. The afternoon heat and the 1.5+ hour bus ride eventually made each of us drift off to sleep, causing us to nearly miss our stop! We had all pretty much woken up in time to see what could have been our stop at the ruins, which we debated with each other non-verbally using confused facial expressions. The bus was a good 300 meters down the highway before I told the driver to let us off.

Sunday is a good day of the week to see ruins. The entrance fee for Mexican residents is waived, and reduced greatly for tourists. Entry into Uxmal was reduced by about half for us, and cost a little less than US$5 to get in (but almost the equivalent of a night's stay in the hostel).

Uxmal is one of the big-4 Mayan ruin sites visited by folks in the Yucatán, but is the most difficult of the four to get to—which is great because it cuts down on the number tourists I have to look at. The afternoon that we were there probably found fewer than a hundred or so people scattered about the large, impressive, and surprisingly well preserved complex (the climate and vegetation have left the site in much better shape than most).

The Pyramid of the Magician, one of the most prominent features of Uxmal, has some really interesting acoustical properties (allowing the individual atop the structure to speak to the masses below without raising his voice). From ground level, you can clap your hangs and make the ancient stones return a really cool high-pitched ping (that sounds like you're dodging a bullet).

Between swimming in the cenote at Dzibilchaltún and climbing around on the pyramid's of Uxmal, I feel very satisfied with my intake of Mayan ruins. I get the gist of what they're about, and don't feel any particular desire to see any others at the moment—I'm quite content.

Friday Festivities

After asking around, it sounds like the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Mérida won't look too much different than a standard Friday night, so tomorrow I'll be relocating to Playa del Carmen—which is about the last place I'd expect to find anything remotely authentic for the holiday (but I'm going to ignore that for the moment).

Playa del Carmen, just shy of an hour south of Cancún, is said to be to Europeans what Cancún is to Americans—the only difference being that Playa del Carmen is a much smaller beach town that's really only a decade or so old. Part of my reason for visiting (other than the socializing) is to better understand why people flock there, and to see what the place looks like before it turns into a collection of 35-story hotels (like Cancún has).

I don't plan on staying in the area very long (unless there's a good reason to do so), and I imagine that by this time next week I'll be in (or on my way into) Belize.



Craig |

May 3rd, 2006

I tossed up about 50 new photos from Merida and Uxmal!

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