Thursday, 3 May 2012

Uxmal and the Crazy Russians

We were heading straight from Chichén Itza site to Merida and we had only 20 minutes until the next bus arrived, and since food was hideously expensive at the Chichén Itza shops, we had no time to buy anything so we arrived in Merida very hungry – which was actually a good state to be in as we found a very tasty bakery and everything’s twice as good when you’re starving J

After a bit of searching we found a hotel, Hotel del Maya, and then set about exploring the town.  The stand-out for the town was probably the Government Palace which is particularly impressive, with large murals covering the walls that depict the history of the Mayan people.

Our plan the next day was to get to Uxmal, but as usual it’s the small things that sometimes cause the most chaos.  We’d dropped our long overdue washing in to be done the day before and it wouldn’t be ready till 12pm, and we needed to be on the 12.05pm bus.  So at 11am we thought we’d just check if it was done, thankfully it was, so we went to buy bus tickets only to discover that the bus station we needed was actually on the other side of town.  The lady selling the tickets said we’d never make it there in time, but we decided to try anyway.  We packed our backpacks in 5 seconds flat and power walked all the way across town and made it to the bus with literally 3 seconds to spare (it made us reminisce about the old days and running to make trains in Switzerland).

Temple of the Magicians
The bus we ran so hard for doesn’t actually go directly to Uxmal (no buses do), but instead dropped us and our luggage unceremoniously on the side of the road, and then we had to walk in, thankfully only about 10 minutes.  The ruins were almost empty; we’d managed to find the time slot between the morning load and afternoon last minute visitors.  We found the ruins to be almost on par with Chichén Itza, the ‘Temple of the Magicians’ is massive and impressive from all angles, and the site has many other numerous and large ruined structures to climb up and over and soak in the views from.  The place is less ‘groomed’ than Chichén Itza and reminded us a bit of Angkor Wat as there were many trees growing through the old stone buildings. 

We’d done all the exploring we could by 4pm and we still had to wait 2 hours for the bus that we had to flag down from the side of the road in the dark in the hope that it wasn’t full.  We noticed tour buses leaving and thought that maybe it’d be easier to hitch a ride with a tourist group going in our direction rather than try our luck with the bus. 

Unfortunately most groups were headed back up North rather than South to Campeche, but we did have luck with a French tour group (who knew speaking French would repeatedly come in so handy??). The group were more than happy to let us climb into their van, but their guide ended up saying no citing insurance reasons.  As a last ditch effort Sarah asked a group of boys standing near a van if they were headed to Campeche – and finally some luck, they had to get all the way to Mexico City by the next day so they’d be passing through.  They told us to throw our stuff in the back and climb in.  In total there were 6 boys and 1 girl (all Russian) who’d been traveling through Mexico for a couple of weeks.  It was only an 8 seater van so Dave had half a bum cheek on the seat for the entire 4 hour trip. 

The rain god, Chaac
It took a good 5 minutes for the vodka to come out and be offered around, we politely declined but unfortunately the driver gladly accepted… and he was one crazy driver.  We were just lucky that he didn’t mow down a local at the speeds he drove through the towns, and also lucky we didn’t overturn at the even faster speeds he drove the rest of the way.  We didn’t have much choice though, it was either get out on the side of an unknown road, at night, in Mexico, or hold on and think happy thoughts.

As soon as we arrived near the outskirts of Campeche we thanked our kind hosts (they were a nice bunch of people, just drunk, crazy and driving) and within minutes we were in a collectivo (which felt safe in comparison) and promptly arrived at the main plaza.  We bee lined for the nearest hotel and since it was cheaper than expected, booked into the 400 year old building and set about finding food to celebrate the fact that we were still alive  after a crazy hopefully never to be repeated journey!

1 comment:

  1. Oh - I have heart palpitations just reading that!!!


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