Read more about the article Cancun – Mexico
Cancun - Mexico

Cancun – Mexico

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The Riviera Maya

Our last 2 days in Mexico we decided to spend them resting in Cancun. After all the previous busy and tiring days, we though the best we should do was to have a well deserved rest in between, before continuing on to Belize for a short stop followed by a busy week in Guatemala and a final resting days in Panama. But from our original thoughts to what the reality unfortunately was, it’s a big difference.

The weather. It really ruined what was meant to be sun, beach and pool for two days. The freezing blizzard happening in North America pushed too much south and while temperatures were not cold in Cancun, we did not get see a ray of sun at all. Thankfully we could enjoy the beach on the first day. Very warm water and nice outside temperature, just big clouds but no rain. Only towards the end of the day it is when the strong wind and heavy rain started. That was the end of our beach time the following day.

In any case, if you plan in coming to Cancun around the same time of the year as we went, be aware that the chances of rain are quite high. Other months of the year are better but then you need to be careful during the hurricane season. It’s kind of a lottery to be honest. We were unfortunate in this occasion. (more…)

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Read more about the article Uxmal – Mexico
Uxmal - Mexico

Uxmal – Mexico

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Oxmal, Three Times Built

Another day and another Maya city: welcome to Uxmal. The 4th pre-Columbian archaeological site we visit in this trip so far, and sadly meaning only one more left to go. This is quite different to Chichen Itza even the distance separating both is not that big and both are of Maya civilization. The main difference is the architectural style. Although structures are always repeating on every city; final decoration, sculptures and finishings are not the same. While Chichen Itza has a wide mix of styles, Uxmal is entirely Puuc.

How can you easily spot what is Puuc architecture? Notice the intricate mosaics made of stone on the upper façades of the constructions. This is something unique to this style and the finest examples are found in Uxmal, the largest city on such style.

Being around half of the size of Chichen Itza, and so near to many other Maya cities, it is easy to actually visit more than one in the same day. In fact and as I will explain below in the section how to visit the site, there are Sunday tours where they take you to 5 cities. This is called La Ruta Puuc (the Puuc Route). (more…)

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Read more about the article Chichen Itza – Mexico
Chichen Itza - Mexico

Chichen Itza – Mexico

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At the Mouth of the Well of the Itza

Welcome to Chichen Itza. The third pre-Columbian archaeological site we visit on our tour, and one of the finest of the entire Maya civilization for the size, history and how well preserved it’s been kept and excavated. An UNESCO World Heritage listed masterpiece. Incredible to see how some of the constructions seem to have been built recently, but in fact, they are even 2000 years old. Of course it’s been greatly restored and rebuilt, adding back the missing stones taken over centuries for the use on other constructions like the Spanish did for churches and cathedrals upon conquering the region and founding new cities.

The site is still not fully excavated, but it’s one of the most uncovered and studied Maya cities in the region, including as far as Guatemala. The jungle in here is not as dense any more as it used to be years back, something that helped in the other hand to uncover and discover new constructions. This is a subject I will come across again when talking about Tikal in Guatemala because in there that is the totally opposite side of the coin, pristine thick jungle where 80% of the ancient city still lies under the jungle.

From all the structures in the site, two will get your look immediately for being in perfect shape. The Castle (El Castillo) pyramid and the ball court. The pyramid is so well preserved that you can see the snake effect on the stairs, for this you will need to look to it sideways and there you will see the head of the snake and the body all the way up to the top. (more…)

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Read more about the article Merida – Mexico
Merida - Mexico

Merida – Mexico

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The Capital of Yucatan Region

Leaving behind the Mexico City of the country and all the beautiful places we’ve been around, we move to our next base: Merida, the capital city of Yucatan region. Our main aim for a base here? Get to visit two of the major and most important Maya cities: Chichen Itza and Uxmal. Sadly for us, we could not count with more days to keep exploring the many other Maya cities in this region, therefore we had to choose and decided for the most important ones.

Merida has retained one of the finest collection of colonial buildings in the country and hosts the very first cathedral to be built in the New World. Of course no need to mention here that the distribution of the city follows the same pattern as any other in Mexico, where the Zocalo is the main square with the cathedral and City Hall along the sides and the streets follow a strict grid pattern. Wherever you walk is another sight, no wonder it is one of the finest colonial old towns in Mexico to be listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Now the main question is how many days you do need here. Let me tell you, for the city itself you don’t need more than one. It is small enough to make a one day visit perfect. But since coming to Merida is mostly because of visiting the Maya cities around, then it is really when you need to calculate your time, which cities you want to visit, and how many. We spared 2 days to visit 2 sites. Gladly I would have stayed longer and keep visiting as many others as possible but my plan for this trip included 3 other countries, therefore I was limited in time. (more…)

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