20th April 2004, Mexico 23

It was me that moved. When I emerged from the van to look around, the car park was packed full. I think an adjacent building which to me had looked disused is maybe a night club. The boulevard fronting the bay is packed with traffic, vehicles nose to tail, they do U turns and go back. There was no traffic at all this afternoon, and I found out there was none next morning, Sunday.

As I expected I found a good spot for the night when I moved, then in the morning I drove around a little, it's a nice town, full of wide boulevards. All the guide books say don't bother to come, except for the culture museum, but I liked it. I did some shopping, drove around the bay boulevard again to say goodbye the Caribbean Sea and headed west for more Maya ruins.

I decided to take the small road to the first ruin, and found a totally new scenery. It's a sugar cane area, there are fields of sugar cane. Now
fields are something I have rarely seen in Mexico. There are also entrances to these fields used by vehicles. Now that really is something new. There are loads of places to pull off the road, normally there is nowhere to stop, even to look at a map for a few seconds, I have driven over 20 miles before I could find somewhere to pull off the road just long enough to pick up a bottle of water from the fridge at the back.

Anyway at the end of this road is a sugarcane plant with about 100 trucks lined up with sugar cane, mid April and the sugarcane harvest is in full swing.

I could not find the route out of the town. Nobody seemed to know the way to the next town shown on my map. Eventually the passenger in a taxi said I should go back to the main road (35 miles) the way I had come and continue from there since the road I was looking for did exist but was in a very bad state and there were so many junctions I would not find the way. So now I am next to the main road parked in a quarry for the night.

I looked for the other end of the road but couldn't find it. Must be the locals were right last night. So I headed off towards some ruins. The first was Dzibanche. I was just paying the entrance when I noticed the lady there had the same rucksack that I bought yesterday, I showed it to her. I cut the logo off she told me. I thought that a brilliant idea, the logo was horrid, so I went back to the van to remove it. She followed me and watched. She was not very busy, up to the time I left, 2:30 pm, I was the only visitor of the day. You have a lot of beers she said. (Mucho cerveza) Yes I said. Then "Oops!" I said, problem. Cutting the stitching for the logo also cut the stitching holding on the clip to close the rucksack. No problem she said, taking the rucksack, and beckoned me to follow. She fished under the counter and produced needle and thread, and started sewing. Well before she had finished there was an ice cold beer standing on the counter. She wouldn't take any money. Next time I passed I gave them some of my Mardi Gras beads which were well received!

I first drove by Lamay, being restored.

then to Dzibanche itself.

All these steps and all the walls you see in all the pictures from all the sites were originally covered with stucco, like a sort of plaster, you would rarely see the actual stones. Both inside the buildings and outside they were covered with stucco and normally painted red. Of course the stucco is not so durable and normally just the stones survive. Here are some stucco carving that have survived on some steps.

Not very clear I admit but about 1000 years old. I doubt that all steps everywhere had carvings, but all were covered in stucco.

Also included in the admission was a visit to Kinichna. Here's a superb view from the top of one of the temples.

The Mayans rebuilt their temples every 53 years, that was the end of one era in their calendar and they needed to start anew. Usually they rebuilt one temple on top of another, or one pyramid on top of another. As they had already a building underneath, each time they rebuilt they went a bit bigger. I don't think they rebuilt every temple every 53 years but they were certainly in a constant rebuilding cycle. In Kinichna in two temples they built out rather than over, leaving the original more or less intact in situ and it's fairly easy to see the stages. The temple to the top right of the red line that I have drawn was extended so the base needed to be extended also. To the right of the red line is stage one, to the right of the blue line is stage two, and to the left of the blue line is stage three.

Talking of extending reminds me, in Muyil I was amused to be given a very much second hand admission ticket, they are supposed to be torn out of a book and be not previously used, and in the car park at Tulum I was not given a ticket for my quite expensive 50 pesos car park fee, on exiting when I said I had not been given a ticket they said that's OK no problem!

All these places are in the jungle of course

and here is the Kinichna car park.

More jungle

Kohunlich plaza

Those are stands on the left for people to watch. About 80 yards long. (1 yard is 3 feet). I've no idea what they would be watching. Maybe native dancers? But it's quite some plaza.

Kohunlich is famous for it's temple of the masks, originally 8, each 9 ft (3m) tall. Carved in stucco.

I chatted with the guardians and arranged to stay in their car park. There were 6 howler monkeys high in the trees howling away. Even in this rotten photo you can see which one is the male.

Best regards

David Barker

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