Yucatan Peninsula Journals

Mayan's Glorious Yucatan

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A November 2007 trip to Yucatan Peninsula by wanderluster

Uxmal Mayan Ruins Photo, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico More Photos
Quote: Beyond Cancun lies another world, one steeped in history, mystique, and intrigue.

Mayan's Glorious Yucatan

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Overview

Fresh Fruit? Photo,
Quote:
First time visitors to the Yucatan are often shocked to discover what lies beyond Cancun and its congested tropical seascapes. Off the highway, there are numerous tiny villages where Mayan ladies embroider huipiles, grind corn, or make fresh tortillas in their thatched huts. Men can be seen walking with machetes to harvest crops in distant fields or chatting with others alongside their bicycles. Villages come alive during festivals, including Days of the Dead that occurs in late October. Everyone creates elaborate altars to honor their dead in private homes and in the village plazas and participates in special celebrations. Ghostly plantations with ruined haciendas stand testament to the c...Read More

Ruins of Chichen Itza

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Attraction | "Chichen Itza"

Ruins of Chichen Itza Photo, Chichen Itza, Mexico
Quote:
This ceremonial site was important for three distinct groups of people. Mayans first settled here in 435AD, and built lavish buildings in the Puuc style with ornate geometric friezes, Chaac masks, and jaguar symbols from 600AD. Itza people from the highlands of central Mexico then conquered the city, adding unornamented structures with simple lines, then suddenly abandoned the site. The city laid lifeless for a hundred years. Then Toltecs arrived around 1000AD and built new temples with military overtones, adding warrior columns, carved serpent and eagle motifs alongside Mayan jaguar symbols. They built a larger pyramid over the existing El Castillo pyramid, but left a hidden staircase to r...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 4, 2007

Ruins of Chichen Itza
Tinum
Chichen Itza, Mexico

San Antonio de Padua

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Attraction | "Izamal"

San Antonio de Padua Photo, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Quote:
A pretty Colonial town about an hour east from Merida, this Golden City deserves an overnight stay or two. Great opportunities for people photography from Mayan women selling flowers, vendors selling wares like citrus fruits, men resting alongside their bicycles, old-fashioned barber shops, children in uniform heading to school on the back of scooters, and locals chatting in the plaza.Once an ancient Mayan ceremonial site, thousands made pilgrimages here to honor deity Izamna, hoping to exchange offerings for his special healing powers. Pilgrims journeyed vast distances to visit his shrine long after Itzas abandoned their city in the 1200s. When Spaniards arrived, they found four massive py...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 4, 2007

San Antonio de Padua
Main Square
Izamal, Yucatan Peninsula

Valladolid - Shopping

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Attraction | "Valladolid"

Valladolid - Shopping Photo, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Quote:
This charming Colonial city, a two-hour drive west of Cancun, makes a good base for visiting Ek Balam ruins to the north or Chichen Itza to the west. Every village centers around a plaza, and Valladolid is no different. A bustling market takes place around the picturesque plaza where couples sit in white cupola benches near fountains and Mayan ladies stroll by in their handmade embroidered huipiles. Across the park-like plaza sits the large baroque de San Servacio church, from 1570, which draws in local people every Sunday. Valladolid is considered the most Spanish Colonial city in the Yucatan. Now calm, beautiful, and friendly, this "terrific town with a terrible past" has a bloody histor...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 4, 2007

Valladolid - Shopping
City center
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Celestun Biosphere Reserve

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Attraction

Celestun Biosphere Reserve Photo,
Quote:
This Biosphere Reserve is located on a long white beach on the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 1.5 hours west of Merida. Known for its large numbers of pink flamingoes which reach 20,000, the inlet also is home to 300 other species of birds. Flat bottomed boats take visitors into the lagoon where cormorants, egrets, osprey and herons can be seen along the way. A distant pink horizon soon becomes a flock of flamingoes as the boat reaches the lagoon. Keeping a respectful distance, a zoom is required to photograph these birds seen feeding and in flight. The boat trip includes snaking through the mangrove looking for pygmy kingfishers among the tangled roots, and an optional stop at the sweet water ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 4, 2007

Celestun Biosphere Reserve

Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Ek Balam Mayan Ruins

Attraction | "Ek Balam Ruins"

Ek Balam Mayan Ruins Photo, Cancun, Mexico
Quote:
Occupied from 100 B.C. to 1200 A.D., these ruins combine many architectural styles, but are best known for the wonderfully preserved winged sculptures (Mayan angels) and Witz Monster Mouth recently discovered halfway up the Acropolis pyramid. Now under thatch protection, this Mayan entrance marked the burial place of the king and the portal to the underworld where blood-letting rituals, self-inflicted by the priest, and human sacrifices were made to appease the gods.The Acropolis Palace has 6 levels. Climb to the top of the 100 foot pyramid for a surrounding view of the jungle. From here it’s easy to see how the Palacio Oval temple, a ball court, and Las Gemelas twin pyramids across the plaza ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 4, 2007

Ek Balam Mayan Ruins
Highway 295 To Tizimin Yucatan Peninsula
Cancun, Mexico

Uxmal Mayan Ruins

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Attraction | "Uxmal Ruins"

Uxmal Mayan Ruins Photo, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Quote:
With so many choices to explore, what are the best ruins in the Yucatan? Undoubtedly, the great and mighty Uxmal. It's hard to believe that these massive ruins were created overnight by a dwarf.According to legend, this trickster outsmarted the king, overtook the kingdom and built a magnificent city overnight, including the oval-shaped Pyramid of the Magician. Since then, subsequent rulers have added their mark on the pyramid, resulting in five superimposed temples, two of which are visible at the top of the 118 staircase, currently unsafe to climb. Intricate geometric patterns, Chaac masks, monster mouth doorways, lattice friezes, stone sculptured animals, flowers, birds, and protrudi...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 4, 2007

Uxmal Mayan Ruins
62 km south of Mérida
Uxmal, Mexico

Mayan Ruins Puuc Route (Ruta Puuc)

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Attraction | "Ruins along the Puuc Route"

Mayan Ruins Puuc Route (Ruta Puuc) Photo, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Quote:
A trio of Mayan ruins Kabah, Sayil, and Labna are found on the Puuc Route heading east from Uxmal in the southern region of the Yucatan.Kabah’s Kodz-Poop structure is best known for the riot of noses protruding from intricately carved stones. This large façade of 250 Chaac masks (rain god) become wonderfully illuminated in the late afternoon sun. The Great Pyramid and Palacio, also built between 700 A.D 900 A.D., exhibit traditional Puuc architectural style: plain lower walls topped by decorative friezes. Two giant sculptured kings perched high on the backside of the Palacio are unusual among Mayan ruins.Sayil, the place of red ants, is a small but fascinating sit...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 4, 2007

Mayan Ruins Puuc Route (Ruta Puuc)
Rancho Encantado
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Hacienda Route

Story/Tip

Entry at Yaxcopoil Hacienda Photo,
Quote:
Visiting haciendas throughout the Yucatan offers a glimpse into another part of the region’s past, an era of splendor and elegance dating from the 17th century. Spanish plantation owners practiced cattle ranching, produced sugar cane or manufactured sisal rope from henequen plants. Their lavish estates styled in Spanish Colonial architecture were filled with the finest furnishings. Today many of the haciendas have been turned into luxury hotels, restaurants, or museums. The largest hacienda in the region, Yaxcopoil, once covered 22,000 acres during its prime henequen production. It is the first hacienda on the Hacienda Route south of Merida open to tourists.Driving south of Mer...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 4, 2007