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August 9, 2005
Cahal Pech was a half an hour walk up through the town and up a steep residential hill (Buena Vista). There we saw a signpost, took an even steeper hill to the left, and nearly couldn’t handle the gradient with the over 100°F temperatures, but we did, and there it was, "The Place of Ticks" as the name translates to. I can’t say we experienced any ticks, but we certainly had a very pleasant afternoon wandering though the temples in the shady jungle.
On top of the tallest structure (the Audiencia), I ran into two girls who had just begun their backpacking adventures through Central America and were heading on to Guatemala. So, feeling very worldly, I sat for a good 2 hours trading my tips and advice with them.
The park was $5 to get in, and this included a small museum with some interesting artifacts and facts about the Mayan culture.The park is open from 6am until 6pm, and on a hot summer day, is a great place to wander around.
From journal From Jungle Juice to Panty Rippers
Port Angeles, Washington
July 16, 2004
Cahal Pech has a very recent history of study and excavation. The first written documentation of discovery of the Cahal Pech site was in the 1930s, and exploration did not begin until the 1950s. Unfortunately, true scientific study and excavation did not begin until 1988, and by then, much looting had already taken place. Despite this, there are some great displays of archeological pieces and interesting information at the Cahal Pech museum. Excavation stopped within the past few years, and I was told that no more work is planned due to lack of funding, or funding going elsewhere.
The location of this long-forgotten "place of ticks" (as the name translates) is high on a hilltop, 900 feet above sea level. The view is obscured by trees, but the atmosphere is supremely tranquil. When we visited, we were the only ones there. We were free to enjoy the quiet mystery, and we had the on-site ranger all to ourselves as well.
The city was once home to around 10,000 Mayan people starting approximately 900BC, possibly as early as 1200BC. There are 34 buildings and two ball courts located around 7 plazas. Some buildings are uncovered and restored, and some are still pyramid-shaped, earth-covered mounds. Our map showed one building called the "Royal Tomb." We located where it would be and found a jungle-covered hill. I asked the ranger how they knew it was a royal tomb if it was still unexcavated, and he explained that archeologists had dug a hole into it from the side and found a large jade death mask that would be used for royalty. After the discovery, the tomb was recovered with earth, and I presume the artifacts were put away in a museum for safekeeping.
The entrance fee for Cahal Pech is US$2.50 per person. It is open 9am-4:30pm. It can easily be seen in a morning or afternoon. Or if you are looking for solitude, bring a lunch and a book, and stay all day. The video in the museum was broken when I was there, but hopefully it will be up and running by now.
From journal Cayo is Cool
August 12, 2003
Cahal Pech has a small visitor's center, introducing one to the history of the site and Mayan culture. It costs about US$1.25 to enter, and this money goes back into preserving the site.
There is a snack bar and a gift shop on the site.
Cahal Pech--"Place of the Ticks" in Mayan--used to be a cow pasture. Like many Mayan ruins, it was completely obscured by vegetation and earth until the 1950s. Until the late 1980s, no archaeological work was done. Now, the site has been restored and some people dislike the way it's been done. Regardless, I knew it would be the first Mayan ruin to experience, so that the grandeur of larger ruins wouldn't overcome its smalltown charm.
It was inhabited from 1000 BCE until the 9th century AD. It is a small ruin, but it is fun to explore. The pyramids are rather small. More interesting are the former noble residences, with many small rooms and corridors.
Mosquitos don't seem any more common than in the northeast in the summer, and the bites don't even itch. much. And so much for "Place of the Ticks". I didn't see one tick! This is a good thing.
Cahal Pech didn't really wow me. I guess it probably doesn't wow anyone. I still enjoyed it, but I think I may have been tired from the flight. It's my first Mayan ruin, I was thinking, and I don't even feel impressed. Perhaps I was expecting too much.
From journal A Week in the Jungle