Thursday, February 12, 2015

*Tent on Wheels ON WATER* The Mayan Ruins: Uxmal

Uxmal - Spanish word for "stairs"

If the Mayan Ruins are one of your bucket list items, then visiting Uxmal is for you. We were absolutely blown away by the majesty of the grounds, the ingenuity of the builders, and the awe of what could be accomplished with just the bare hands of a civilization that we know so little about.

It was impressive.  Massive.  Expansive.  Every other -ive you can think of!  We had about two hours to enjoy our guided tour and some time to ourselves for this excursion, and it was just so... wow.  The first pyramid you see (above) is the Pyramid of the Magician - legend has it that a dwarf built the entire structure in one night.  The pyramid is unique among Mayan structures because of its rounded sides, height, and steepness. There are actually five pyramids there, each larger and built over the one beneath as was customary among such Mayan pyramids.

Walking around to the backside of it, is Nunnery Quadrangle - a 74 room governmental palace.  Given it's name by Spaniards (who thought it looked like a traditional convent) it was most likely used to house the princes and royal elite.  The rooms are very sparsely decorated, but the exterior of the builds were certainly a tribute to the craftsmanship of the Mayan people.

The carvings on the Nunnery buildings are some of the most impressive of the remaining Mayan culture.  Our guide informed us that back when the temples were being used, a red plaster would have covered most of the walls - making the carvings stand out even more than they do today.

As you turn to leave the quadrangle, you had a view thru the structurally impressive entryway, across the Ball Court and beyond to the Governor's Palace.

At this point, I'm going to stop for a moment and warn you - because it's obvious, but not obvious.  If you decide to do this excursion, wear comfortable shoes.  Take a hat and sunscreen.  Bring bottled water.  And be prepared to climb stairs.  And I mean climb.  As in, there will be more stairs than you ever thought possible in. Your. Life.  

I mention it here, because it's at about this point that you realize that if you want to get to the Governor's Palace, you're going to have to climb more stairs.  More steep stairs.  

Did you know, that Uxmal in Spanish means "stairs'?  

Don't believe me? I have 16 different photos to prove it!

But the climb is worth it.

The Governor's Palace would have been were the royalty of the day resided.  Its sits in a position so that the main entryway aligns with Venus - the star representing the goddess of fertility.  It also sits high enough amongst the other structures that you ave an incredible view of the Ball Court, Nunnery and The Magician's Pyramid. Embedded in the ground directly in front of the palace is a large stone, um, statue, also meant to symbolize fertility (I'll let you figure that on out on your own!)

If you're willing to climb one more set of steep stairs, you'll be rewarded with a view fit for a king:

The tiny dot on the grass to the left is Mom!

The old saying holds true - what goes up, must come down.... so all those stairs that you climbed up? Now you've got to climb back down them.  And btw, don't be ashamed if you have to butt-scoot down the steep ones; we saw several people resort to that!

There were a few additional structures we didn't get to on the other side of the Governor'sPalace: the Dove Cotes, the Giant Pyramid, and the Turtle House.  The entire site is 150 acres, so there is so much to see that you could probably take a full day or two to soak it in.

It was certainly an experience we won't soon forget.  And one that we would highly recommend.

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