las joyas en la selva

Xpujil Travel Blog

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Xpujil was the most amazing part yet--no small feat! Hormiguero was a jewel--underappreciated by the guidebooks, it revealed to us more than we could take in. La ciudad de las hormiguas, an extensive city of leaf-cutter ants. They were not aggressive, and let us observe their artfully designed roads and highways--the worker refused to travel on lanything less. The mounds themselves looked like elaborate high-rises and ampartment complexes, and even with my background in entomology, I just did not realize they could get that big.
Around the exquisitely carved ruins, the trees were inhabited by an extended family of howler monkeys that indulged with uninterrupted views of their family life (after greeting us with a  stream of urine, of course).  They were  unabashedly peaceful, and swung easily from branch to branch to find the choicest leaves, but never howled or made a fuss.
This place is Los pulmones de la tierra.

Between the major stops, we climbed up to the top of a mirador, and looked out upon the land that was become ever so slightly more familiar, and yet still mistifying. Without any warning, Mathias climbed one of the beams, swung upside dow, and harvested a wasp nest. I was terrified that he would fall and in cartoon fashion, fall through every layer of this wooden tower. I think for the first time, I felt more paranoid than my mom, and I just had to cover my eyes! He then agilely climbed back down, and handed me the nest. I kept it with me for the rest of the day in my pocket, but it didn't fare too well with me climbing about. It was a touching 'gift', but also the most unconventional I have ever received!

We also visited Chicanna and Becan, which  each had their own charms.

My favorite thing about Becan was the variety in the structures- there really was a bit of everything, including challenging steep pyramids that gave me a chance to be an acróbata. Some of the pyramids have steps for display purposes only, and that aren't intended to be climbed--but I think I might have given those a shot too. Surprisingly, there are two ruins there that have not at all been excavated. We didn't even notice them until Mathias pointed out the shapes lurking under the dense vegetation, and once your attention was directed to it it was obvious, but you wouldn't think anything of it if you were walking by. He explained that it was expensive to excavate and restore, and no one had yet taken on the project! Anyone out there have a few years and a few thousand dollars to spare? Sounds like a fun project!!

Chicanna  had  and impressive doorway,  where we stood  in the gaping mouth full of spiky teeth (the mouth  of the god Itzamna because of his crossed eyes).
There were lots of small rooms which each had details, including one with tiny human faces carved into the stone. I can't even fathom the patience it must take to carve in such a delicate way, using only stone tools, thousands of years ago. By some stubborn defiance of time, the original doorframes still stood.

The beauty, intricacies, and wildlife of the Yucatan really enraptured us, and we both fell in love with many of the places we visited. The kind people and beautiful sunshine made it the trip of a lifetime, and we both hope to return soon.

Thanks for listening to some of our stories!

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photo by: Biedjee