Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oxkintok Ruins

Flamboyan in bloom on the road south of Mérida on Sunday, July 5, 2009.

It’s been a while since we’ve gone exploring on a Sunday. This past weekend we packed up a carload of drinking water, some tunes and headed south of Mérida about 75 kms. to the Ruta Puuc where the hilly landscape is literally dotted with ruins, cenotes and underground caverns (grutas). Our entertainment along the way was watching the thousands of butterflies flitting about the blue sky. Neon green and yellow, orange and blue….they were so plentiful and amazing that we got sidetracked and got carried away photographing them.

I'd brought along the wrong map. All maps are not equal here in México. I am rather particular about mapping, having something of a navigational fixation. Some maps of the Yucatán are too old to show the last ten years' improvements, or worse don’t show which coastal roads have been completely washed out over the same time frame. I had what I call a ‘high hopes’ map. It showed new, beautiful (non-existent) divided asphalted highways. Periféricos and connecting roads that are still blueprints awaiting approval, signatures and lots of official stamps in some government office. It is disappointing when the actual roads don’t coincide with the fantasy map highways. But we keep driving in the direction that feels right and always end up somewhere!

This time we accidentally stumbled upon the massive and surprisingly impressive ruins of Oxkintok. There are thirty groups of buildings which we saw on both sides of the 4 km. gravel road we drove toward the entrance.

This sign will tell you all about it. I was impressed with the great informational signs that explained the buildings throughout the ruins.

Oh, you don't read Mayan? Well, I guess you will have to read about OXKINTOK on the Mayan Ruins Explored site in English if you want to see what an excellent excursion it is.

We didn't stop truckin' after exploring the first ruins, we continued along the Ruta Puuc to Kabah and Sayil. Those posts will appear later this week. First I try to make sense of what I saw, do some extra research, and sift through the zillion photos we always take before posting. Uxmal is the most popular site along this route, but we decided to save it for another day. Another day later in the afternoon when we can tolerate the heat, then cool down with a cold drink awaiting the evening sound and light show. When we passed Uxmal it was high noon, and as you probably know, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun. We opted to enjoy the air conditioned comfort of crusing the butterfly road around the Ruta Puuc loop until we found some lesser known ruins with more shade.

What is wrong with this picture? Improper footwear for ruins climbing, no hat for sun protection, and no bottle of water to prevent dehydration. Who is this, some stupid tourist?

Nope, it's me. Truth is, I did have a bag I carried with waters and books. I could have used my ankle high tennies and a cap though. It was brutally hot.

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