Mayan Ruins in the Cancun Hotel Zone? Yup!

The past few weeks have been ridiculously busy (in the best way). Jorge and I are working a lot and taking lots of little vacations as always, so I have tons of pics to show you guys.

Today I’ll start with a day trip we did 2 weeks ago. It was a Sunday afternoon with not much to do, and I was dying to get out of the house. Naturally, I talked Jorge into taking me out into the sunshine to visit some Mayan ruins in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

 

Yes, that’s a giant Cancun resort in the background. (The Iberostar)

Not many tourists know that we have a pretty big Mayan ruins site right here in the Hotel Zone. I asked Jorge why nobody ever came to Ruinas del Rey (took me 8 years to do it!) when it’s right here, really pretty and so cheap. In all his wisdom, Jorge told me that it’s probably because no tour company can sell it because you can just take a 5-minute bus ride, so nobody advertises it.

Well, here’s us advertising Ruinas del Rey!

 

 

We only saw maybe 5 other little groups while we were there… but what Ruinas del Rey doesn’t have in people, it makes up for in iguanas.

So. Many. Iguanas.

 

Ruinas del Rey is 500 meters long (about 1/3 mile), so there’s quite a bit to explore. I had always figured it would be a small site, but I was wrong!

 

Have any of you guys been to Ruinas del Rey yet?

I Bet The Ancient Mayans Wished They Had Sunglasses

I was so excited to go to the Mayan ruins of Tulum last weekend. I hadn’t been since 2007, and I was dying to finally have some amazing photos of the site. I was envisioning posting professional-quality photos to the blog that would have National Geographic green with envy.

Let’s say things didn’t go quite according to plan.

The weather was… um… interesting. We arrived at the ruins to crazy bright sunshine and extreme heat (strange for February), so Jorge and I had a hard time adjusting the lighting settings on the new camera. The first group of photos turned out ok, but not quite the quality I was hoping for.

I'm not pregnant. It's the wind.

After about 5 minutes, a very ominous rain cloud approached and we spent awhile cowering under a tree before the rain stopped and the crazy sunshine and heat returned. (The ominous cloud pics turned out kinda cool, though.)

Bougainvillea flower drenched in rain

And so we continued on with camera difficulties as we tried to get used to the beating sunshine and overpowering wind. I wish our shots could reflect the beauty of what we saw in person, but I guess it wasn’t our day. We got a few good ones in there, though.

Jorge was mesmerized by this carved face! We also thought it was cool to see the hints of red paint that still remained on this structure.


Proof of the crazy wind that day

Soon the temptation of the beach was too much to resist, so we climbed down the wood staircase to the stretch of sand below the ruins. There, the weather continued to keep us on our toes with blazing sunshine interspersed with ominous clouds, ridiculous winds and the threat of rain that never came. The weather was so weird that I couldn’t even find good conditions for taking photos on the beach (plus there were quite a lot of people blocking the good views haha).

Despite the ridiculous weather, we had a really great time. Every time I visit Mayan ruins around the Yucatan Peninsula, I always try to imagine what it must have been like to walk through a real ancient Mayan city, to see the pyramids with all their color, to see a real Mayan ball game… I can only imagine!

 

 

 

Mundo Maya 2012 Video

This year, Mexico’s President Calderon has announced a new program called “Mundo Maya 2012” to promote the Mayan culture, archaeology and heritageĀ as we get closer to the infamous year of 2012. I’m super excited about it because the Yucatan Peninsula is full of Mayan culture and ruins, plus Jorge’s family is of Mayan descent. (Does that make me an honorary Mayan? My suegra would probably say so.)

The Secretary of Tourism has put together this incredible video for the program. Enjoy!

Of these, I’ve only been to Palenque, Tulum and Chichen Itza. I’ve got a long way to go! Have you been to any of the sites shown in the Mundo Maya 2012 video?

Mayan Legend: The Xtabay Woman

Some of you may know that my husband, Jorge, is from the Yucatan Peninsula, along with his entire family. (Specifically, near the city of Merida.) This particular area is filled with Mayan heritage and culture, which can still be seen a bit in Jorge’s family.

When we visited the Ek’ Balam Mayan ruins recently, we saw a “ceiba” tree (SAY-bah).

The ceiba tree we saw at Ek' Balam

My mother-in-law told us the Mayan legend regarding the ceiba tree.

If a man is out wandering around at night and passes by a ceiba tree, he just might see an “Xtabay” (ish-tah-BYE). An Xtabay is a seductive temptress who stands under the tree, brushing her long, dark hair.

The Xtabay will seduce the late-night traveler. Then, one of two things will happen:

1. The man will be led by the Xtabay off the path, deep into the jungle, to die. (This is the version my mother-in-law prefers.)

2. The Xtabay will ensnare him in an embrace, and violently kill him right there. He’ll later be found filled with the thorns of the ceiba tree.

thorns on the branches of the ceiba tree at Ek' Balam

Most of the Xtabay’s victims are found dead, but over the centuries, a few have managed to escape and tell their story.

According to my in-laws, you’re more likely to come across the Xtabay when you’re drunk. I don’t find this surprising šŸ™‚ haha

Ek' Balam Mayan Ruins in Yucatan

This weekend, my in-laws took us to see some Mayan ruins along with some family friends. It was an AMAZING time!

We went to Ek’ Balam (which means “Black Jaguar” in Mayan), a site located about 2 hours from Cancun, near the city of Valladolid in the state of Yucatan.

Words are insufficient, so I’ll just leave you with photos…

There are 2 hills like this. Each has a large, unearthed acropolis underneath.

The ball court:

The main acropolis… 106 stairs. I got halfway up and panicked. Luckily Jorge made it all the way and was able to take photos.

Beautifully preserved carvings at the entrance to a tomb:

And finally… Pepino the snake.