Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memories of Merida - Part 3

Tropical green over
ancient carved stones
Remembering times past
Beautiful, Symbolic, Gruesome
necessary to appease the gods
and ensure that prosperity
Flow across the jungle floor and
confront the contemporary arrivals

We had set aside a day to explore the other Mayan sites in the area. The day began with us getting lost. Before the situation turned hopeless, we stopped at a gas station to figure out where we were and how to get where we wanted to go. Using a mixture of English, rudimentary Spanish (on our part) and much finger pointing at the map we carried, a gentleman was able to get us going in the right direction. We were soon to discover that earlier we had passed the turn off we were looking for...twice.
At the first site the most impressive structure was a large, highly carved arch in the middle of the clearing where the Mayan settlement had stood. It is assumed that it was the entry to the compound of a wealthy family. There are a string of these sites in the area located several kilometers apart from each other. They range from small buildings with buttresses shaped like serpent heads buried and being overtaken by the jungle to the remains of a massive palace that it is estimated could hold over 300 people.

The area immediately around the ruins of the palace is manicured grass. In sharp contrast to the tangle of vegetation at the clearings edge. A short walk down one path leads you to a large carving of a fertility god with an impressive phallus, as would befit this type of deity. A second path takes you through dense jungle where the remains of a second smaller palace stand. The ruins of the second palace are barely discernible beneath the vines and trees that have grown up and around them.

As we headed down the path I saw at the clearings edge a peacock and "Thanksgiving" turkey, both indigenous to the area emerge from the thick growth.  Further along on our trek to the second ruin a brilliant blue bird flitted among the leaves beside the path and iguanas sprinted into hiding at our approach.

This part of the Yucatan pennisula is extremely hot and humid making the carrying and drinking of large amounts of water a necessity. Fortunately, bottled water in the city is both easily accessable and inexpensive as we drank our way through gallons over the course of our visit. Public restrooms are a gamble. At one point I returned to the table at the small resturant where we were having breakfast annoucing that I had hit the jackpot! The toilet had both a seat and toilet paper!

The food is excellent, as it almost always is in Mexico. Whether it was at the resturant on the portico of our hotel, affording us a view of the decorated horsedrawn carrages going by or the 2nd floor bar and resturant we found down the street, overlooking a large monument in a traffic circle. We ate at hole in the wall breakfast cafes with stackable plastic tables and chairs and a place set up in someone's living room outside the nature preserve where minced octopus was the special of the day. We were never disapointed.

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