For centuries, the Maya built huge cities across southern Mexico and central America, creating towering structures that dominated the skyline of the flat Yucatan penisula. You’re never far from a set of ruins. They dot the lush green landscape like the stars dot the black night sky.
Brick by brick they created civilisations from nothing, only for them to fall into ruin as their cities collapsed one by one, to be swallowed whole by a ravenous all consuming jungle. Until one day, not so long ago, they were rediscovered. They were unearthed, spade by spade, and rebuilt, block by block.
Now the tourists come, busload by busload. Well, that is the case at Chichen Itza. Uxmal is also one of the more visited sites. But there are others which are a bit more off the beaten track which can often be entirely deserted. They might not quite be on the same scale, size wise, as Chichen Itza, but some can still be pretty big.
I’ve been to Chichen Itza. And Uxmal. And a fair number of the other sites around Merida during past trips to the area. I looked for new options and picked Mayapan, an hour or so drive south of Merida. It turned out I’d saved the best for last.
It’s just a fabulous experience to have a place like this virtually to yourself for half a day. A couple of people were just finishing off their own tour as we arrived, and another couple arrived as we departed. Otherwise, it was just us, a few hundred colourful song birds and a thousand or so lizards.
The birds fluttered from branch to branch, keeping in the shade. The Mexicans too kept to cooler spots where possible. In the absence of any mad dogs, I had to make do with joining the multitude of lizards in the midday sun. I like lizards. They weren’t always so appreciative of my presence though, shooting between the stones of the ruins into little lizard dens. A casual observer might almost assume that the place is in fact just a very extravagant collection of lizard houses.
I won’t bore you with the details of the history of this long abandoned city. There are better resources on the internet who can provide a more knowledgable account of the comings and goings of its former inhabitants. You can go and see my photos though, on Flickr. And in tribute to those who came before and built, then rebuilt, this great city stone by stone, I can provide you with this 360 degree tour of the ‘hood, built pixel by pixel, as seen from atop the main pyramid.
* If you cannot see the panoramic photo, then your browser is probably old and in need of updating. Or perhaps you are using an unco-operative mobile browser. If you can see it, then it really is best viewed full screen. The quality of the software that stitches these 360 views together really has come on in leaps and bounds over the last year or so. Although it still struggled with the horizon in a couple of places.