Starting in Villahermosa, we visited the La Venta museum, which houses several relics from the Olmecs. The Olmecs were an ancient civilization believed by some to be the predecessors of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. They are famous for their large, carved stone heads.
It was interesting to see their artifacts, but there was also a small zoo as part of the museum. I decided I needed a margay. Too cute! And almost house-cat size!
From there we made our way towards Calakmul. On the way, we stopped at Balakmú. While the structures themselves aren’t that impressive, the frieze that is kept under the largest pyramid is impressive.
Next site was Calakmul. I think this was our favorite site. It is a large complex with 3 large pyramids. In fact, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatán is located there. As an added bonus, you can still climb these structures. While the site did not have as many intricate details in the architecture, it was climbable, extensive, and nearly deserted.
After that we decided to do some of the sites along the Puuc route, starting with Uxmal first. Uxmal is nicely excavated and has many intricate designs, but even at the end of the day in the off-season after a rainstorm, Uxmal was pretty crowded. Between the crowds, the smaller area, and the fact that you can no longer climb up the pyramid of the magician, it was not as enjoyable as Calakmul.
Apparently, it is illegal to use a tripod here without a permit, as obviously having a tripod means you are professional. Sadly, it means that I don’t have many pics with the both of us.
We visited three more sites along the Puuc route. For the price (less than $4USDpp), I was really surprised at the quality of the sites. Additionally, there was generally no one else there. You could also see what many structures look like before they are excavated. It is amazing that they are ever able to reconstruct them in many cases.
The sacbé (the white roads the Mayans created) at Kabah. Used to lead directly to Uxmal.
Last, but not least, was Tulúm. This one is unique in that it was actually occupied when the Spaniards arrive. In fact, as it was right on the ocean, it was one of the first places conquered. It was disappointing in that you couldn’t actually explore any of the buildings, but it was picturesque. Plus it had a wall surrounding it (not common).
The wall entrance. Even assuming that time has added a couple of inches of dirt that the archeologists forgot to move away, you can tell the Mayans were a short people. Someone with Jonathan’s height would have been a giant.