|The weather for the past few days has been cool and cloudy. I have even been wearing a light jacket for the past two days. Today was bit warmer but not sunny and hot like it has been for most of the time since I arrived here.
Today we went to see the Mayan ruins at Ek Balam. The city is not extensive. There is one very large pyramid and three other main structures and some smaller structures. The pyramid is very different from all the others I have seen in that it is not pyramid, or triangular, shaped. It branches out in all directions on many different levels; something like a condominium complex. I could not get a decent photo of it for several reasons. First, it is too large to fit in a photo. The pyramid is only 30 metres tall but it is an incredible 160 metres long. You cannot step back further to get more in the photo because then you would be in the forest. Another reason is that the pyramid is undergoing restoration and is covered with construction material and tarps. I did get a nice photo of the other buildings and the surrounding forest from the top of the pyramid.
Ek Balam has a rare, round building. Almost all ancient structures have square corners.
The city had a wall around it but now the wall is only about one metre in height.
Ek Balam was discovered only 30 years ago and there are still many unexcavated structures that look like a big pile of dirt and rocks.
I usually walk off the path into the forest a little to search for birds and other wildlife. I didn’t see any new birds today but we found some interesting ants. We saw some army ants on the march. This time they were marching in column with some specific destination in mind. The column was about 2.5 cm wide (one inch). It extended for more than ten metres and I could not find either the destination nor source because of the bushes. When they are hunting, they spread out and cover an area of about one metre in width. This is how we saw them last time. I find them very interesting.
We also found some leaf-cutter ants. This is another type of ant that I had seen on television and hoped to find here. These ants cut a piece of leaf off of a plant and carry it to their home. They made a path that was cleared of all leaves, sticks, and other debris. The path was about 5 cm (2 inches) wide and extended as far as we could see into the bushes. The ants were going out in one direction and returning with a leaf. The ants carry a piece of leaf that is larger than their own body. This is like a person carrying a mattress for a queen-sized bed on their back in the vertical position and doing so for several kilometres. We saw a couple of overzealous ants that had taken a piece of leaf that was a bit too much for them. They were staggering and falling from the weight. But they never gave up and were making slow progress nevertheless. They don’t eat the leaves. They store them underground and feed them to a fungus. The fugus eats the leaves and the ants eat the fungus. Like the army ants, I find the leaf-cutter ants very interesting.