After two boat rides from Caye Caulker and a long bus ride from the port at Chetumal, We made our way to Playa del Carmen. Most known as a spring break party destination, there are also some Maya sites in the area. One of thsie is Tulum, which is notable for being on the seashore.
There’s a wall around the whole site, so entrance is through small number of portals.
And then you come to the ruins and the sea. The buildings are all fairly low compared to some of the tall pyramids Tikal or Chichen Itza.
There’s even a beach.
That night the tour group had one final dinner together at La Parrilla. Salud!
Then we all started going our separate ways. Some people were staying on in PLaya del Carmen, some people were traveling to additional locations and some where going back home. I think I was the first one out: with a 7 am flight and a 4 am checkout, i just stayed up all night. Perhaps that why this post is going up a month after the fact.
We crossed the border into Belize for 2 nights near San Ignacio and 2 nights on Caye Caulker.
In San Ignacio most people went caving or cave tubing. Western Belize is known for its caves. I and some others when to the small nearby ruins at Xunantunich. There’s a hand-cranked ferry that leads to the site.
It’s a small out of the way site, but it does get crowded midday since it’s the closest ruin site to the cruise ship docks in Belize City. We were leaving about the time busses started showing up.
Most of the temples can be ascended, including the highest castillo.
There are some good inscriptions on either side of the castillo. These are actually reproductions; the originals were reburied to protect them.
We travels by water taxi to Caye Caulker. No ruins there; just beaches and boats.
On the 16th we stayed in Flores, Guatemala. This is an island in the middle of Lake Peten Itza. It was one of the last holdouts of the Itza Maya against the Spanish, and predictably the Spanish built over everything that the Itza had not leveled behind them.
The next night we camped at Tikal.
We actually got there early enough for some of us to catch the sunset in the Grand Plaza.
Then we were up at 4am to see the sunrise on Temple IV.
If this looks familia, that’ becasue Tikal was the filming location of Yavin IV in Star Wars. (All of the guides kept talking about Ewoks, but I know I know my Star Wars and this was definitely not used for the forrest moon of Endor.)
A unique construction feature: alternating sloped and vertical stages.
Some buildings under active restoration.
I went on the extra loop by Temple VI, the Temple of Inscriptions. The 35-foot back wall is covered with writing. The guide said that only about 1 in 20 visitors comes to Temple VI since it is out of the way compared to the rest of the site.