México at Last!!!

17th June 2011

México at last!!!
We began in Chetumal [1], just over the border from Belize, with a visit to the “must see” Museum of Maya Culture. The Yucatán Peninsula is dotted with the remains of grand Maya cities so we headed inland to the small village of Xpujil [2] to see the ruins of Xpujil. A large structure topped by 3 towers dominates the site.
Becán (550 BC – 1000 AD), a few kilometres away, is surrounded by a moat, unique in the Mayan cities. We had the ruins to ourselves surrounded by only the jungle and its eerie early morning sounds.
The vast World Heritage site of Calakmul sits within a biosphere reserve. Our guide Nicolas (Kaan Expeditions) pointed out birds and animals along the way. Being hard to reach there were very few other visitors. The tallest 82 metre high building towers over the trees that surround ancient temples. The city flourished from 250 AD to 695 AD and some of the structures still have wooden beams from those times. We tried to picture the city as it once stood, brightly painted stucco covering huge pyramids which surrounded large paved plazas.

Statue in Museum of Maya Culture In Chetumal

Part of a Mayan Temple in the Museum

This shows how the inside walls were decorated ...

... in vibrant colours

Breakfast tamales sold beside the road at Xpujil

3 towered structure at the Xpujil site is atypical - normally only 2 towers were used

View of one tower through a Mayan arch

Jaguar mask on the back of the central tower

Simple roast meat taco with green hot sauce and lime - yum!

Becán was surrounded by a moat - unique in the Mayan world

2 towered structure

Representation of a snake on a Becán building

Typical Rio Bec style detail on a Becán building

Rounded corners and well made blocks of the Rio Bec style

Corbelled arch is seen in all Mayan structures

Original fresco on an interior temple has traces of red paint

Round columns were unusual

Depiction of the ancient Mayan ball game ...

... played in this ball court

Keel Bill Toucan in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

A rarely seen Royal Flycatcher


Roadside Hawk with prey

Skeleton of a crocodile, probably killed by a jaguar

Hanging nest of the Oriel bird opens at the bottom


Main structure at Calakmul at 82 meters high - you cannot see the top temple from below

Diagram of the structure

A temple rising out of the surrounding jungle

Leaning stela in the forest

This building was found just as it is at Calakmul - it has not been restored

Stepped pyramid (Calakmul) - various layers evident

Another structure at Calakmul

Mens and Ladies baños (toilets)