From Uxmal we drove on, stopping at the town of Ticul to visit their 16th century church, Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua. Many of the stones of this church were taken from the many Mayan ruins hereabouts—-a common story of church building in Mexico.
And finally we reached Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but did see the lovely Museum of Anthropology housed in the Palacio Canton, built in 1910.
We also ate some lovely meals, ending them with the dessert of Queso de Napolitano, the RICHEST flan imaginable. We had Huevos Motulenos for breakfast quite often, an elaborate egg dish that Burt and I had encountered in 1974. It is made with eggs, ham, tortillas, salsa, peas, cheese and fried plantains.
Merida made a great base from which to branch out and visit more Mayan ruins.
We drove north the first day to Dzibilchaltun. This site has a remarkable history, having been used as a ceremonial site from about 1500 BCE until the time of the Spanish conquest in 1540 AD. The Temple of the Seven Dolls (called thus since they found seven grotesque dolls on excavation) is oriented so that during the equinoxes the sun ‘lights up’ the doors and windows in a special way. While we weren’t there during the equinox, nevertheless, it still ‘lit up’ Jeanne as she stood in the doorway!
Nearby is a sacred cenote, which is a limestone pool or sinkhole into which were thrownspecial Mayan artifacts for ritual purposes, which were recovered by a diving team in 1958.
We continued north to Puerto Progresso, which is on the Caribbean north of Merida. There is a long wharf, used for commercial shipping, and a beautiful beach, which we enjoyed for an hour.
The next day we went south from Merida on the Ruta Puuc to explore a number of Mayan ruins that were important in their day. First up was Labna, with its wonderful arch.
Continuing on we came to Sayil; all of these ruins have facades that show stylized masks of Chac Mool. The turkeys added some modern life to the view!
Next was Kabah, covered in nearly 300 masks representing Chac Mool.
And then on to Edzna, a triangular pyramid called the Edificio de Los Cinco Pisos (Five-Storey Building) with its serpents, masks and jaguars’ heads.
We put in to the town of Campeche, which is on the Gulf of Mexico. It has the requisite fort, the Fuerte de San Miguel, protecting the city. There wasn’t any parking in front of the hotel that we had selected so Jeanne got out and went in to register us and find out about parking while I would circle the block. When she told the desk clerk that we were two people, he asked her where the other one was. (This was all in Spanish) So Jeanne took a stab at it and replied, “cir-coo-lazion,” drawing a circle with her hand. He understood!
The town itself looks quite ‘weathered’ in kind of a charming way—-I suppose a result of all the salt air.Tomorrow we will move on to Palenque, another Mayan ruin, but in deep jungle.