Thursday, January 29, 2009


We arrived in Tulum in the late morning. The hostels in the town were very overpriced but we were told we might be able to get cheaper accommodation on the beach 3 km away. There were no buses to the beach so we started to walk. After about 15 minutes we came across a stand renting bikes. This seemed like a much better option than walking with our backpacks, so we rented two for 24 hours and headed to the beach.

The first accomodation we came across was completely deserted except for a small construction crew. They told us that the huts were currently under construction but we could stay in one for a discounted price. We felt the price was still too much and when they rejected our offer we told them we were going to look around.

After walking down the beach a ways and finding that all the other beach huts were twice as much with little to no vacancy we returned to the first place with our tails between our legs.

Our view

After waiting for the construction workers to fasten a make-shift lock to our door we set off on our bikes to see the Tulum ruins which were about a kilometre down the road. The Tulum ruins are not very big but they are one of the best preserved examples of coastal Mayan architecture. The ruins are situated in front of the beautiful backdrop of the Carribean and are said to have reminded Spanish explorers of coastal Italian cities.

Dozens of lizards enjoyed basking in the sun around the site.

Farewell Mexico

The closest we ever got to Cancun...

Entering Miami

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chichen Itza and Dzinup Cenote

Chichen Itza is the most visited of all the pre-colonial ruins in Mexico. This is likely attributed to its close proximity to Cancun. We arrived in the nearby town of Valladolid at 7:30 am after our 3rd night bus in a row. In Valladolid we quickly found a hostel to leave our bags and found a collectivo (taxi-van that operates on a set route) that was heading to Chichen Itza. Our plan was to arrive early before the hordes of tourists from the resort towns.

Maybe we had become ruins snobs by the time of our visit because despite Chichen Itza's impressive architecture it was our least favourite ruin of all the places we had visited in Mexico. It felt more like Disneyland than an archeological site, with vendors set up absolutely everywhere. We did arrive before the tourist rush and for the first couple of hours we were more or less alone. One of the things we did not like about Chichen Itza was that everything was roped off. We understand and respect the reason for this but we had been spoiled at the other sites we had visited, where we were allowed to climb up to the tops of pyramids and enter buildings.

One of the coolest features of Chichen Itza is the massive ball court. The largest court discovered in the Americas. It measures 166 by 68 metres with side walls that are 12 metres high. The hoops are still very well preserved on the courts sides thanks to being carved out of stone rather than wood as in most other sites.

The walls of the ball court are decorated with remarkable detail.

What is thought to have been an astronomical observatory.

An ancient game of tic tac toe?

silhouetted sculptures chitza

Once the tour buses from Cancun started to pull in we decided to move out.

Dzitnup Cenote

After our visit to Chichen Itza we decided to stop for an afternoon swim at the Dzitnup Cenote on the way back to our hostel. Despite it being a holiday there were only a handful of people there.

Upon reading this sign at the entrance to the cenote we almost turned back. Fortunately we avoided the slepering stones and had a very enjoyable swim.

hole in the ceiling of the cave which lets a small ray of sunlight into the pool

josh in cave 2