Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Uxmal

Along the Maya Route




The UNESCO World Heritage Site added Uxmal to its list in 1996 because it represents the best of late Mayan art and architecture.  That is precisely why I enjoyed these ruins so much.  The architecture is intricate and beautifully carved.  The site is small and more easily digested than the larger ruins of Tikal and Chichen Itza.  The ancient city was founded in 500 CE and reached its peak in 850-925 CE.  After that, Toltec invaders captured Uxmal and it began to decline.

Getting there was half the fun.  My travel buddy and I hopped on a second class bus from Merida and enjoyed the ride through the Mayan villages of today.  Many families still live in adobe homes with cone-shaped thatched roofs.  Some of the homes didn't even have doors and we could see the hammocks and televisions inside.  Chickens and turkeys run wild in the front yards.  The stone fences along the road, interspersed with jungle, made it an unforgettable ride.  Our driver dropped us off at the entrance to the ruins.  We sprinted to the magnificent Pyramid of the Magician and climbed to the top for the view of the entire site.  Climbing down was scarier because the step pyramid is so narrow and steep.  There were chains to hold onto.


The Nunnery Quadrangle or Governor's Palace was another exceptionally beautiful building.  This was one of several rectangular buildings in Uxmal where the facades on both the inside and outside were elaborately carved.  I loved the latticework design.  The serpents were added by the Toltecs.  We heard many tales of horror about these conquerors--that they plucked the beating hearts out of men and threw young virgins down the wells during sacrificial ceremonies.

After climbing up and down several pyramids and then taking a walk through the jungle, we were more than ready to catch the bus back to town.  We slept the entire way back.


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