Mexico Yacutan and Chiapas – Mayan ruins, jungle and heat
Yucatan heat (ala Hot Yoga for a City) –
I started this trip off in Merida, landing close to midnight – as soon as stepping off the plane the heat and humidity hit full force. The temps were around 38 degrees, and hardly dropped overnight. Over the next few days I would turn into a water processing machine – drinking upwards of 4 liters of water a day and just sweating it out. The outside temp felt like an ongoing Hot Yoga class. It was noteworthy seeing the locals wearing pants (all of them) even in the middle of the day, most hardcore were the machine gun toting police at checkpoints, who were decked out in plain black long sleeved overalls! And they didn’t even look like they were sweating!
Mayan ruins (surprises) –
Over the next week I would check out three Mayan sites. Uxmal, Edzna and Palenque. These were all unique and each fascinating in their own way. Having previously not known much at all about the Mayan civilization, I was surprised firstly at how many ruins there are in Central America, many still undiscovered or not yet excavated – seeing them all is simply an impossibility (there are hundreds) so I’ll pick around 7 interesting sites for this trip. Secondly, I was surprised at how well many of the buildings had stood the test of time. For example, in Edzna there is a 6 story building that was apparently built almost 1500 years ago, without any metals, and it is still in good condition. For all sites so far I’ve been practically the first person there in the morning – before the crowds come in. It is well worth the effort, escaping the heat, the crowds, and also the sites are more picturesque with the morning sun.
Safe cities (touch wood) –
All we really hear about Mexico on the mainstream news is really about either drug murders, or about the border crossing with the US. As it is with many places, once you actually go there – you can dispel the myths and make up your own mind. Having said this – I did choose an extremely safe and sheltered part of Mexico to start this trip and so far on this trip I’ve felt completely safe. Also I am going to completely avoid the known places to be very dangerous in Central America, such as Honduras, El Salvador and parts of other countries.
Merida was a flat, hot, green, and lively City. Campeche was a beautiful beach side city, with the downtown inside a big walled fort build back in the 1600s – it had a lot of charm and not many white foreigners at all. Palenque has a chunk of hostels in the jungle next to the ruins, these were great – like stepping into a different world for a couple of days. Thankfully there didn’t seem to be any mosquitoes there (not sure why). San Cristobal was charming City in the hills, with big markets and heavy Mayan populations. It was interesting to read about the Zapista movement – and to see some of the postcards and touristy items that were being sold. Some juxtapositions and contradictions, like foreign owned tourist stores selling t-shirts of Che Gueverra… Anyway it was interesting to learn more about was some of the Rage Against the Machine early songs were based on.
An intense week to start with,.. looking forward to finding a spot to chill a bit soon.