Got up at 6:30 and did all the morning stuff, then headed off to meet up with Ernesto. Needed to get some bandages first for my feet – I had worn some blisters and raw spots from not being used to sandals. Anyway, got quite lost and wandered around for a while asking people how to get the the meeting place (a laundry). Got to the meet at 8:00 - exactly a half hour late.
Met up with Ernesto, his wife (whose name I can’t remember), and their four year old daughter Isabella. We headed out of town in a heavy rain storm – but were greeted by a rainbow once we were out of town – and it didn’t rain (except for a drop or two) for the rest of the day. A good start!
The car was a bit of a wreck. There was no glove compartment, the radio and tape deck were missing, there was no AC unit and the warning lights (oil, check engine, temperature) were all flashing the whole trip. But… off we went. The trip took about two and a half hours and most of it was through the low jungle – just trees and shrubs up to about 15 feet high. There was the occasional village and small settlement, but mostly a quiet drive. Saw many bicycle trucks – some carrying people, some wood for cooking. Much laundry and many stray (I guess) dogs plus one cat!
We finally arrived t Ek Balam and the parking lot was quite full. Since it was a Sunday (and a holiday weekend) the lot was packed – it is the holiday of the Epiphany – an important Catholic event. In any event they dropped me off at the entrance and I went in. I met one of the original inhabitants (an iguana) but turned back and paid a guide to do a basic tour of the site. William was quite good at the history of the site but was distracted because another visitor was behaving inappropriately. They actually got into an argument.
But I did get a good overview of Ek Balam – apparently it fell apart when there was a dry year and the “workers” rebelled against the leaders of the city (of about 18,000). It was eventually taken over by Chitzen Itza in the late classical period.
William, the guide, left me to talk to one of the government representatives so then I wandered alone, I found the site of the original well the folks used then went behind the main pyramid – the part not restored. Then I explored the rest of the site – from the stones waiting restoration to the existing structures – an amazing site.
While climbing the main pyramid who was right behind me but Ernesto with his wife and daughter! We took pictures of each other then I headed off to look at the tree of life (rubber tree – sounds hollow when you knock on it) and the other sites. A fascinating set of ruins!
After wandering the site for an hour or more I went to the shops selling various goods. I wanted to get one item but the shop owner had vanished. I finally got a guy and found the prices were less tan 10% of what they were asking in Playa…
Met up with Ernesto and headed back to Playa. There were many groups doing endurance races – some with torches, some running – but many groups out all with horns blaring and lots of folks. These were to celebrate the journey of the three wise men - who showed up 12 days after the birth.
We got back to Playa about 5:45 and I tried to meet up with the tour group. I was told the meeting would be at 8:00 but that was wrong. I met the group at 6:00 and there were only two of us on the group – the other couple had not arrived. The meeting with Anna the guide went well but only Adria (?) and I made a small group. We had a discussion of what was to come, then Adria and I went off for dinner – Chicken tacos,
Back to the room (same as last night) and chatted with Minna, then updated the trip journal and off to bed!