Day 30: Uxmal - Becán - Cicanná - Xpujil

Xpujil Travel Blog

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on the road to Xpujil

We were glad when the sun came up, warming our tent a little in the early morning.
We set out straight after breakfast, as we had quite some distance to travel. If possible, we wanted to reach the ruins of Calakmul tonight, but if possible also sleep in a proper bed - camping was fun last night, but not to be repeated in this cold.

The twisting road led us past several tiny villages, smack in the middle of nowhere, and it made us wonder just how the people lived here. Gathering dead wood seems to be the main profession of choice, really, we saw many people walking on the road pushing a wheelbarrow full of wood.
 
We picked up a hitchhiker, who had to get to the bus stop, 50 kilometres down the road.

ruins of Becán
He was able to tell us a little about life in Yucatán, and it was nice to meet a Mexican for once without a commercial motive, and to talk about ‘real’ things for a change.
 
It was quite funny. I drank some water from a water bottle and offered him the last bit. He gladly emptied the bottle (must have been thirsty after waiting for a lift for so long) and he wanted to throw the empty bottle out of the window.
“No!” the two of use shouted.
“But why not?” he replied, perplexed.
We explained to him that we’re not Mexicans, so we throw our garbage in a garbage can. He stared at us in disbelief “wow, that is really good...”
I had expected he wouldn’t understand our point of view, but he actually did. He agreed with us Mexico would be a much more beautiful country if there wouldn’t be so much garbage lying around.
ruins of Becán
But at the same time he couldn’t believe that someone would willingly leave an empty water bottle lying in a car for two hours, hoping to find a dustbin.
 
We dropped him off in the town of Xpujil (a name you pronounce by clearing spit from the back of your throat), which lies on the T-junction of the main road north to Mérida and the East-West road from Chetumal to Campeche.

From here it was another 120 kilometres to the ruins of Calakmul, which we were planning on visiting today. But first we decided to find a place to sleep for tonight. The Lonely Planet recommended Hotel Calakmul. This place had, apart from nice luxury rooms, also little wooden cabañas, which were a lot cheaper.

Becán ruinas
OK, it was no more than a little wooden shed and shower and toilet were outside, but it was still better than camping in the parking lot of a hotel.

We had a little lunch here and met with a Canadian couple who were doing more or less the same route as we were, only in oppposite direction. They told us we wouldn't make it to Calakmul anymore today, as the road was too difficult to drive. We'd need at least 2 hours to drive there, and it was not recommended to drive in the dark. So we decided to go tomorrow morning instead, which would also increase our chances of seeing some animals in the jungle.

So we spent the afternoon exploring some other nearby ruins. This region is Maya Mecca, so to speak, with more than 50 sites in the vincinity of Xpujil. And it is believed that there may even be more, undiscovered site in the jungle!

About 8 kilometres from Xpujil lies the old Mayan settlement of Becán.

Chicanná
A small site with a handful restored ruins. We liked this place, especially because it was so quiet (there were only three other people about). We also liked the fact that most buildings had only been partially restored. The fronts of the big pyramids were completely restored, while the back side was left the way it had been discovered, completely overgrown by the jungle.
This was such a difference from the more popular sites, which often feel too sterile because everything has been restored as if new, and all overgrowth has been removed.

From the top of the highest temple (30 metres) you could have a great overview of the surroundings. The land is very flat here, and completely overgrown with jungle, so all you could see was a green carpet of trees, with here and there a grey speck of the top of a ruin protruding.

Relaxing in our cabaña

The second place we visited was Chicanná, an even smaller settlement, which was not overly interesting. The ruins here were mainly of residential dwellings, which are a lot less impressive than the vast temples we'd seen elsewhere. But what made it special was that we were the only ones here. I remember Teotihucán and Monte Álban, where thousands of people were walking around in between the temples. Secretly I liked this better. We felt like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft joining forces to search for hidden treasures in lost cities...

We spent the evening leisurely sitting in our cabin, reading a book with a good glass of wine and a cigar. The cigar was the last one I had left from the pack of locally made cigars from San Cristóbal, and the wine we had found here in a local liqor store in Xpujil, which is quite unique since Mexico isn’t really a wine country. But the guy who ran this store had a few bottles left and was all too happy to sell one to us.
I know, it’s a hard life...

Jacqinmiddenamerika says:
What an adventure and it's definately very nice to meet people without being obliged to buy something :-)
Posted on: Feb 26, 2009
Koralifix says:
Nicely written story :)
Posted on: Feb 26, 2009
pms70 says:
It still amazes me that people can ruin their own country (or another) by littering like that so you guys talking to him about it might have caused him to talk to others about it hopefully you would have made a tiny difference...
Posted on: Feb 26, 2009
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on the road to Xpujil
on the road to Xpujil
ruins of Becán
ruins of Becán
ruins of Becán
ruins of Becán
Becán ruinas
Becán ruinas
Chicanná
Chicanná
Relaxing in our cabaña
Relaxing in our cabaña
moon rising over Becán
moon rising over Becán
Atop a Becán temple
Atop a Becán temple
Becán
Becán
Lara Croft patrolling Chicanná
Lara Croft patrolling Chicanná
Indiana Jones discovering temples …
Indiana Jones discovering temples…
Robbel snug in her bed under the m…
Robbel snug in her bed under the …
Xpujil
photo by: Biedjee