Day 29: Mérida - Uxmal

Uxmal Travel Blog

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Uxmal
 

In our guidebook we had found a car rental which charged a very acceptable 30 bucks per day for a Beetle - that's quite a change from the 83 we had to pay in Campeche yesterday!

One of the conditions was that the entire amount had to be paid in advance, so we went to an exchange office to change a wad of Traveller's Cheques into pesos. While Robbel was trying to forge her own signature I spotted a brochure of a rental company which claimed to be the cheapest of Mérida.

True, the car rental where we had booked this morning claimed the same thing, but I liked the fact that this one said in his ad “discount for Lonely Planet readers”. The fact that he wasn't mentioned in my outdated Lonely Planet shouldn't matter I figured, and as the agency was only a few blocks from the exchange office, we decided to have a look.

Great pyramid of Uxmal


Yesterday we had visited about five car rental companies, and each one we visited was worse than the other. At one we were simply fobbed off with the message that the cheapest car type wasn't available anymore, at another the person who helped us simply refused to help us after we said 83 bucks for a Beetle was a lot of money... It was like entering a different world. The owner of the rental company told us the cheapest car, a Beetle, wasn't available anymore. That would have cost us 30 bucks, just like the other company. However, rather than send us on our way again, he immediately told us he had a different class available, which we could have for the same price.

Oh, and the Lonely Planet discount? “Oh, that's 2 dollars a day off. And don't worry about showing me the book, I believe you!”

Unbelievable what a difference with yesterday! So Campeche: beautiful city, terrible hotel, awful people, and Merida: awful city, great hotel, wonderful people.

Uxmal
It's a strange country, this Mexico.


So an hour later I was the proud owner of a Nissan Tsuru, which is the model of virtually every Mexican taxi. So I felt like a genuine Mexican taxi driver and demonstrated that by driving out of the city very fast, criss-cross, overtaking on the right-hand side and constantly honking. The quicker we'd be out of this city, the better.


But the car wasn't the only surprise of the day. Yesterday I had received an e-mail from my father. He had this ludicrous idea to come and visit us for Robbel's birthday next week. I had sent him a basic outline of our itinerary, and this morning he wrote me back saying he'd be arriving in Cancún on Sunday afternoon, as a surprise for Robbel!

However, we had planned to be in Chetumal, on the Belize border, on Sunday.

Uxmal
So I had to find an excuse to go to Cancún instead *and* drive past the airport in the afternoon. As I couldn't come up with any plausible story to do so, I decided to just tell her. It spoilt the surprise, but rather spoiling a surprise than having to argue staying longer in Cancún whereas last week we had decided to skip that city completely.


And in a way the detour to Cancún worked in our favour, as it gave us more time to visit some Mayan ruins in the south of the Yucatán peninsula.


The first of these was Uxmal, which had been on our list of things to see from the start. But with our own set of wheels it was so much easier, as for once we were not confined to public transportation or excursions.

Iguana guarding a temple at Uxmal


We had been taking the longest route possible (hoping to see something interesting along the way) so we didn't arrive at Uxmal until mid-afternoon. This wasn't so bad actually as most tour groups had already left, so it wasn't very busy at the ruins.


A wonderful site, I have to say. After Teotihuacán my favourite we'd seen so far (well, I guess Palenque might could have beaten it). Many of the ruins have been restored, but what I particularly liked was the layout of the site, with many different types of temples, and lots of trees and green in between, so that it still seemed like some sort of exploration. (unlike aforementioned Teotihuacán or Monte Alban).


But what we liked even more were the many critters we encountered among the ruins.

setting up camp
Almost each and every temple had a resident iguana, warming itself lying on a rock, and we also encountered several bats nesting in the rooms of the old buildings.


As far as sleeping is concerned there isn't really much in the neighbourhood of Uxmal, but we had read in the Lonely Planet that it would also be possible to camp at one of those hotels. I'd been carrying my tent around for 4 weeks now, it was time I'd finally use it!

And it was close enough to Uxmal to be able to go back at night after dark when the ruins are all lit.


So we set up the tent and drove to the nearest village (16 km) to buy some breakfast for tomorrow and a little snack for tonight. Aw I love having my own set of wheels!


Back at Uxmal the entire site had changed.

sunset near Uxmal
At the former main square rows of chairs had been placed, and huge floodlights lit up all the buildings.

At 19:00 hrs the lights went off and the show started. It was really well done. A story was being told (coming from 8 small speakers which were placed all amongst the ruins) while the buildings and pyramids lit up in different colours. Tacky? Sure, but I quite liked it. For a while... As the story progressed it got a bit boring though. There are only so many colours you can project on a building, and the story itself wasn't particularly exciting - a little too much Sesame Street style for me “daddy, what is that? And why do they do this? And why...?”


Back at our 'campsite' we had hoped to have a nice drink while reading a book on the terrace of the restaurant. But alas, this was one of those tour-bus restaurant only open for lunch, so it was closed at night.

the tacky sound & light show at Uxmal
There was a night porter, but he didn't know how much a beer cost, so he couldn't sell us one.

Fortunately next door was a similar restaurant, with a slightly smarter night porter, who let us sit inside the restaurant for an hour.


And then sleeping in my tiny tent. The last time we share a tent together was in the Australian Outback, two years ago.


And it was cold at night. COLD!

Unbelievable how cold it gets here at night. During the day it;s like 30 degrees or so, and while you expect it to cool down a bit at night, you don't expect it to drop to near freezing point!


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Uxmal
Uxmal
Great pyramid of Uxmal
Great pyramid of Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
Iguana guarding a temple at Uxmal
Iguana guarding a temple at Uxmal
setting up camp
setting up camp
sunset near Uxmal
sunset near Uxmal
the tacky sound & light show at Ux…
the tacky sound & light show at U…
the tacky sound & light show at Ux…
the tacky sound & light show at U…
a bat living in one of the temples
a bat living in one of the temples
Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
Uxmal
photo by: Biedjee