South of the Border - Yucatan Bound travel blog

Ruins at Uxmal

Ball Court at Uxmal

Notice intricate Carvings

Rain God Chaac Silhouetted on Corners

Notice Latticework

Birds Soaring Over Ruins

Governor's Palace

Rattlesnake depicting Birth & Death

Mayan Arch

Pyramid of the Magician - 35 meters tall

Nunnery Quadrangle at Uxmal

Temple of the Magician at Uxmal

One side of the Nunnery Quadrangle

Uxmal fro Above

Aerial shot of Uxmal Ruins

The mercury was soaring when we awoke this morning; however, we had a nice view of some of the ruins from our parking area. We had a two-hour tour of the ruins and it was overwhelming to take it all in during such a short amount of time.

The guide described the architectural style as Puuc, meaning hilly or mountain ridge in Mayan. The word Uxmal is Mayan for "three times" and is thought to represent the concept that the Mayans rebuilt the temples over the previous ones three times, every 52 years. Archaeologists seem to have disproved this theory with carbon dating and finding as many as five potential different constructions at Uxmal. Uxmal is now a designated World Heritage Site so funds are available for more research and excavations.

The site is absolutely gigantic, consisting of fifteen groups of sites, and restored to varying degrees.

The first structure was the imposing pyramid with an oval base, rising to a vertigo-inducing height of 35 meters. It is named Casa del Adivino, or The House of the Magician as legend had it that it was constructed in only one night by a dwarf......that would have been quite a feat of magic indeed and these legnds all make good tales for tour guides.

The Nunnery Quadrangle consisted of a plaza surrounded by four buildings. Again, it had nothing to do with nuns; we don't believe Mayans had nuns. It was instead so named by the Spanish discoverer because it reminded him of the cloister of a convent. The complexity of the stonework was just awesome and appeared to follow some master design plan. What seemed like dozens of masks of Chaac, the rain god, adorn all the facades. He is depicted with a curved nose and occupied many prominent corners, sometimes silhouetted against the sky. Rain was desperately needed in this part of the peninsula since there are no rivers or even cenotes. Rainwater had to be collected and stored in cisterns carved from stone and plastered.

A Ball Court with a stone ring embedded in one wall was just beyond the plaza. The guide described the human sacrifice to the gods much as we had previously heard at Edzna.

Next was the Palacio del Gobernador or Governor's Palace, which was perched on a high platform and provided a panoramic view of the site. Architecture included some interesting arches and plays with light and shadow.

Adjacent to the Governor's Palace was the Casa de las Tortugas or House of Turtles. Carved turtles were mounted on the exterior. Diamond-back rattle snakes, feather serpents, fish, turtles, and other animals were used extensively in adorning all these pyramids and temples.

Our guide pointed out an area away from the main site which is thought to be the cemeteries. He explained that, to this date, no human remains have been found. Of course, further excavations will continue.

The drive from Uxmal to Merida was a short 55 miles and it was an uneventful trip. The guys drove the motorhomes and Margrita and I rode together. Joe said Foxy gets very restless when I'm not with them. She's a real pack animal and wants everyone together.

This park has water, sewer, and 20 amp electric so we'll end up running our generator most of the time because it's lighting hot the 90's. We got settled and it was time for social hour.

There are a few vendors here. One was selling hammocks and they were really nice. He makes them at his home and invited us to go there and he would custom make a hammock for us. He had singles and doubles and also chairs. We really have no use for a hammock; however, we did learn that the Mayan people sleep in their hammocks..... positioned horizontally rather than vertically along the hammock. The horizontal position is supposedly better for the back. Panama hats were also on offer and while they were really nice, we passed up on those too. When we left the social hour, they were still in negotiations for the price of the hats.

It was too hot to cook so we ran into town and had a quick supper at Vips. This is a Denny's-style restaurant associated with Sam's Club / Wal-Mart and there was a Sam's in the same parking lot. It was nice to be able to read the menu and order without pointing at the dishes we wanted.

When we returned, there was an orange juice squeezing party going on to make the orange juice for tomorrow's breakfast. We're storing some of the champagne which will be mixed with the OJ. The staff is cooking pancakes and we'll all bring something to supplement that.

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