Ek Balam to Tulum











              In the beginning the creators came together to make people.  The first man was made from clay but the creators realized that he lacked understanding so they let the rain wash him back into the earth.  The creators gathered again and decided to make both man and woman, each from a distinct type of tree; but they lacked understanding and soul.  The creators let these live on as monkeys.  The third and final time the creators gathered to make people they used corn; the result was an understanding man that could worship and admire the gods who gave him life. 

            And there's a paraphrased summary of the creation myth of the Mayan folks, derived from various interpretations of the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya.  Corn was the ultimate source of physical and spiritual nutrition for all of Mesoamerica.  Even now some sources say that corn and its products makes up at least 50% of the caloric intake for those in Central America but the spiritual aspect of it has been replaced by Catholicism.   


Click on the image and praise a corn dog.


Ek Balam ["Black Jaguar"] is about 12 miles north of Valladolid, the small town 15 miles west of Chichen Itza.

Pelota court. They are all generally the same shape, but each has its own distinctions.

Sort of a crappy side-by-side but you get the idea. It's one of the largest structures in the Yucatan.

"The Acropolis" is 500' across, 180' from front to back and about 100' high. There were only 6-8 other tourists there.

Thought to have been populated from as early as 100 BC it was at its height between 600-900 AD, and nearly abandoned around 1000 AD.

This was what really made it worth the trip - one of the finest Mayan sculptures in the Yucatan Peninsula. Large jaguar teeth surround it.

One source said there is a pit behind the door, about 60' deep with wooded spikes at the bottom, where they supposedly threw prisoners.

I wish the light would have been a little better to show the amazing details preserved in these carvings.

This park gets very few visitors which makes it very pleasant. I guess it's popularity is overshadowed by nearby Chichen Itza.

Most of the large structures were built around 800 AD.

Two large hills flank The Acropolis at each side, and are other un-excavated ancient buildings.

"The Twins", creative. Most Mayan ruins were discovered simply because the Yucatan is almost completely flat, so if there's a hill it's likely a ruin.

I assume this is fresh wood that was added during restoration but I don't if they used wood in the originals.

The Mexican flag. Green symbolizes hope, and the independence movement. White symbolizes Purity of the Catholic faith.

Red is Union; the Spaniards that joined in the quest for independence and the blood of the National Heroes.

Emblem; The gods told the Aztecs to build their city where they saw an eagle, perched on a prickly pear tree devouring a serpent; Mex. City zocolo.

Laundry day. There's a million ways to hang your clothes in front of the AC when you've got duct tape.

Tulum; a walled city that served as a major port for Coba [Coba will be in the next group of pictures].

From the south wall looking north. Most of the buildings now visible were built between 1200 and 1450 but an inscription from 564 was found there.

It was occupied through the early part of the Spanish Conquest. Local Maya folks continued to burn incense and pray there 'till tourism became huge.

Iguana's are allover the site, sunning themselves on the rocks.

Closeup of "Spot", or maybe "Bandit".

Tulum is the third most visited arch. site in Mexico after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. In my opinion this is only because of its location.

Tulum is at the south end of the Riviera Maya, which is flooded with tourism, and on a beautiful beach; otherwise I doubt it would get many visitors.

"El Castillo" in the background, behind the many many tourists.

You can still see the colors on the paintings inside this building.

One of the paintings on the site depicts a man on a horse, so they were still painting during the Spanish Conquest.

The Mayans thought that the men on horseback were one creature. When one of Cortez's horses died they worshipped the skeleton.

The small hole, just under and to the left of the highpoint of the tower of El Castillo, is what the following four photo's refer to.

The Mayans, and actually all mesoamericans, built structures to reflect astronomical occurrances.

Astronomy lesson continues...

and continues...

and finally the picture brings it all together.

See ya!