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Mexico Day 9: Uxmal

Mexico Day 9 008I have to find my fleece pullover. Uxmal is cooler than anything we’ve experienced, owing to the slight elevation. It’s part of a series of Mayan sites built in the low hills, or puuc, that give these Mayans their name and identity. The ‘Ruta Puuc’ is a series of Mayan sites, Uxmal the largest, that were unified under Uxmal’s rule in the late classic period.

The Puuc sites share an architectural style that included rounded corners on pyramids, elaborate mosaics and reverance for the rain god, Chaac. In this hilly region, the earth was much more suitable for agriculture than in the east, but rainwater was scarce. The art in Ruta Puuc ruins is dominated by images of Chaac as a serpent. They also have elaborate water-management systems including cisterns, and water ducts.

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Uxmal is usually done as a long day trip from Campeche or Merida – it’s about 2 hours by bus. Or you can stay in on of the few small hotels along the way if you are doing the Ruta Puuc sites. There isn’t much else to do in this region, just some caves that sound interesting.

Mexico Day 9 141_edited-1Our hotel isn’t small, however. It’s operated by a company that owns several large hotels near Uxmal and Chichen Itza. It’s a good looking place. You can see the main pyramid from the breakfast area. The rooms have stained glass, carved wooden doors, and beds with mosquito-net canopies.

It attempts to be a full service resort, but we couldn’t schedule a massage for Trish because the masseuse was missing. The chuckle and tell me that happens a lot. If you reserved a room on the internet and paid $400/night, you might be dissapointed. Trish got a walk-up rate of $100, and we can’t complain.

Uxmal is very well developed as a tourist site. It has good, clean facilities at the registration area, clear signage but no hawking vendors like Chichen Itza. Like Chichen Itza, you can’t do much climbing, but because of the hills, there are several vantage points from which to see the structures. it’s quite large too.

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The first site is the main pyramid, a beautiful pyramid that has rounded sides, and several rooms built into the front and top. The backside has an odd acoustic effect: hand clapping returns a high-pitched ‘ping’ like the sound a racquetball makes. The art here is extraordinary. It’s well restored and plentiful. We walk among the easily accessible structures and take a lot of photos.

The day is beautiful and sunny and the family is in a laughing mood. It’s not quite time for lunch and we head back to the resort, stopping first to get some cash at the ATM. The mood darkens quickly, however, when we are denied cash for the 3rd time in 2 days. We are afraid that someone is using the ATM card that was stolen on day 4 or that the bank has canceled our card.

Since the theft, we’ve been surviving fine with just the American Express that was kept separately, and good cash management. Back at the hotel, we check our account on the internet and attempt to connect via skype. The connection is weak, but it’s clear that the bank thinks there is something wrong. After many ‘unable to load’ pages, and 5 or 6 disconnected calls to customer service, we resolve the issue. Nothing has been stolen and our card is reactivated! Phew.

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There isn’t much to do. it’s too cold to swim (but we try.) ,We could drive a few hours to Campeche, but it’s probably not worth the trip. There would only be a few hours of daylight, and Campeche isn’t supposed to be a fantastic city for kids. Instead we decide to stay another night and see the light show we missed the night before. The adults take a siesta and the girls watch a movie on our player.

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The light show is in Spanish, which is fine. I can only make out a few words like “agua purificada”, “quesadilla” and “la cuenta.” Anyway, the stories are not the reason one goes to see a light show, are they? The last one we saw in Egypt scared the kids and was sooooo corney. It’s a nice way to end the day before the long drive tomorrow.