Roadtrip into Mexico its history – Uxmal and Mayapan

For our stay in Merida I have planned a few small roadtrips. One of which took us south to the fancy Uxmal ruins and the not so fancy Mayapan Ruins. The last few Mayan ruins we’ll visit for… Well, maybe ever. Going further into Mexico other tribes and peoples inhabited those parts. So the next archeological site is probably not Mayan.

Anyway, we headed out from the hotel at around 8AM, courageously following the route I had prepared. And at the edge of Merida we ran into some trouble. Some dudes thought it prudent to do road maintenance in the morning amidst heavy traffic and closed the one highway exit heading out that end of the city. Sending everyone off to take the next retorno (U-turn) and approach the cloverleaf intersection from the other side. Furiously waving his orange flag and pointing down the road.


This of-course means the first turn-around point, right? Nope. And so half an hour was lost going back and forth over a 12 kilometers stretch of highway to figure out the unmarked exits, poorly indicated shortcuts and crossings.

Roadtrip into Mexico its history - Uxmal and Mayapan

Jeanette caught the right u-turn eventually. I missed it and illegally turned around at the nearby underpass. And off we went, searching for the exit that would take us to that intersection. Having finally found it, only to see cars coming from the exit they had closed but just re-opened? Errr… what?

A few kilometers down the highway the outer lane was closed as well, prohibiting us from exiting onto the next road. I ignored that and we took the exit anyway. Which went fine of-course since there was no visible reason for the closure. And off we went, out of the city and into the jungle. Immediately the chaotic traffic and stress stopped – yay!

Uxmal is nice

About an hours drive later we arrived at the Uxmal ruins. Flashed our resident cards and got a discount on the entry fee. Paying $210MXN instead of the regular $461MXN. Our victory for the day! Entering the archeological site we were surprised with how nice it was. The main pyramid is massive, decently preserved and is very tall. Not only that, but pretty much the whole ‘city center’ seemed to be represented. With a large open court, playing fields, plazas, a residential zone and of temples/palaces in decent shape.

Uxmal main pyramid

Due to the Irrational Flu a lot of the rooms and some plaza areas were closed off and they put some sort of walking route into place along with a bunch of guides to yell “Hey, Cubreboca!” at tourists. Behind the huge pyramid there is an elevated court with tons of stone carvings. And down a bunch of steps is the rest of the old city.

Uxmal open court

As you may know, Mayans invented Minecraft before bread got popular. So everything is made of blocks, steps, stairs and slabs.
Having visited over 10 of these ruin sites it dawned on me that Mayans use entirely too many steps and not enough slopes…

Uxmal has too many steps

I caught this lazy dinosaur enjoying some sun and being totally ignorant to any of the millions of blocky bits… Iguanas are littered around every archeological site I’ve been too, scurrying away as you approach. Not this one. Not a single care in the world.

Finishing the route set out around the Uxmal complex, tourists began to arrive by the busload. So we made our escape and continued on our way to find some lunch. Which we figured would be available in a town called Tical. We found some nice food in a local restaurant and made our way to the second attraction of the day – The Mayapan ruins.

Mayapan is also nice

But less so, we found the Mayapan ruins to be actual ruins with most buildings reduced to just the foundations and some left over walls. Not very impressive. Entry to this site is $50MXN. The main thing to look at, to me, was the observatorium which wasn’t an observatorium. Just a out-of-place looking round building called that way. Which stood out from the other buildings for not being a square. But I forgot to take a good photo of it…

I did take a photo of the main pyramid and the plaza in front of it though.

Mayapan main pyramid

Like the Uxmal pyramid, it’s quite tall. But not as nicely preserved. The stairs on all sides were broken and uneven. I didn’t feel like climbing that in the 35c heat.
Some people did though. I imagine their view was nice. I climbed the main building in Ek Balam a few weeks ago. It had a nice view, but also terrible stairs like this pyramid…

The plaza and its surrounding buildings were all but destroyed, fortunately this city (town?) has strong foundations or we’d never know it was here.

Mayapan plaza

As you’ll notice, no roofs, almost no walls. And pretty much only some stairs (!!) and columns remain.
Not being as impressed we spent a while strolling around and headed back to Merida via some back roads. Along the way we found one last interesting thing.

The Spanish were here

In one of the rural towns we found this abandoned Spanish Hacienda. There is no gate, so anyone can just drive onto the central area and explore the yard and surrounding buildings.

The main building hiding behind the motorcycles.

Our motocycles in front of Hacienda Uayalceh

And finally we arrived back in Merida at around 5PM.

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