Tikal

Jul. 25th, 2012 11:17 am
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By now we were in Guatemala to visit the famous ruins of Tikal.

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This is a representative image of what the structures here look like. We are still in the middle of the jungle. We arranged a "sunrise tour" so had to get up at 4:00, hike 45 minutes and climb Temple IV for a magnificent view of the city. Then we waited.



Full story here with more photos. )
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Built on a cliff overlooking the river, the city of Yaxchilán is only accessible by boat. The jungle is actively reclaiming the ruins. I felt that if I stood still for too long, plants would start growing on me!

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Click to enter the jungle. )

Palenque

Jul. 23rd, 2012 10:26 am
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Palenque was a 9-hour bus ride from Mérida.  We stayed in a "hotel" that consisted of cabins in the jungle, actually quite nice.  I have wanted to visit this site since I first saw it in a movie our Spanish teacher showed us in 9th grade.  We used to bug subsequent Spanish teachers until they would let us see the movie again.  It's an Academy-Award winning 1971 documentary called "Sentinels of Silence."  Orson Welles narrates the English version and Ricardo Montalbán narrates the Spanish.  The short film featured helicopter photography of the sites accompanied by an epic, orchestral soundtrack.  It was a dream come true to see this beautiful city nestled deep in the jungle.

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This first temple was later discovered to have been a tomb (see the opening at the bottom). No one had previously believed any of the Latin American pyramids had been used as tombs like the ones in Egypt.

Please click to continue exploring. )

Kabáh

Jul. 21st, 2012 09:19 am
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Kabáh was a city as large and important as Uxmal.  Unfortunately, very little remains and the entire site can be seen in 20 minutes, more if you have a guide explaining it.

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More photos here. )

Uxmal

Jul. 19th, 2012 01:12 pm
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On the third day of the trip, we went to Uxmal.  This site was one of the reasons I chose this trip.  To go here you have to really want to see it, not like the kind of casual tourist who might make it out to see Chichén Itzá.  I think the bus would take 6 hours from Cancún, but it was only an hour from Mérida where we were staying. 

I should mention that I was struck by the dreaded Montezuma's Revenge when I was taking the van to this place.  No horrible accidents occurred, but I was suffering.  Nothing would stop me from seeing Uxmal, but I could have done better with the photos had I not been ill. 

Here's the iconic Pyramid of the Dwarf, or Pyramid of the Magician, depending on who you ask. These are only names given by people who found it already abandoned, anyway. It was my first view of the city.

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The architecture here is quite different from Chichén. Also older and without Toltec influence.

Here I am in front of the main plaza for the Pyramid of the Dwarf.

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More photos behind the cut. )

Still more photos on my flickr page.
pamelonian: (Default)
I have returned from my trip, maybe more tanned and definitely more exhausted.  Our tour kept us on the move!  I explored Mayan ruins, traversed jungles, explored caves, and finally got to snorkel along the barrier reef. 

Our first stop was an appropriate beginning.  Chichén Itzá is the most visited of all the Mayan ruins.  It is an easy day trip from Cancún, and I imagine resort tourists getting bored with the beach deciding to make the trip.  It was a good place to start my explorations, though.  The city is one of the latest examples of Mayan architecture.  Actually, the Toltecs invaded from the north and brought their rain god religion and their warlike ways.  Most of what you see is actually Toltec.  The city was abandoned in the 1400's. 

Chichén Itzá is very touristy with people everywhere and hundreds of vendors selling crap.  That said, it is the most extensively reconstructed and very beautiful.  Definitely worth seeing. 

Here is the iconic El Castillo. It is actually a temple, as well as a calendar, as it is perfectly aligned to the solstices and equinoxes.

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I also saw the Temple of the Warriors with its Thousand Columns. Something I have dreamed of seeing forever.

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Here is the famous well where they threw their sacrifices. Sometimes jewelry, pottery, or people. As the droughts became more severe, hunger became more widespread, the people became more desperate and really upped the ante on what they would be willing to sacrifice.

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My favorite building was the Observatory.

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I was also impressed with the huge ball court.

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Click on any photo to access my flickr page. If you click here, it will open in a new window. I have several more photos, but did not want to overwhelm everyone.

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