When jets land in Cancun, Mexico from Europe and the United States a lot of the folks immediately set out to explore the Mayan ruins in the area. One of the best combination trips for ecology and Mayan ruins is to head south by bus to Tulum. The distance is 81 miles and the trip takes approximately one and half hours by car and two hours by bus. A good rest stop is to visit the Crocodile Park along the way….just make sure you are not on the menu.
At the vicinity of Tulum they have a variety of overnight accommodations and restaurants. You can choose from an elaborate oceanfront hotel to a campground with small huts and hammocks. Tulum Ruins day tickets are available at reasonable costs and you can either walk or ride by tram to the site. Tulum has a Museum near the site depicting some of the ceremonial artifacts and history of the area. It is very educational to see how the early Mayan folks lived and worshipped along the coast. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit. You can drop right over the bank at the Tulum site and swim in turquoise blue waters.
Tulum is known as the walled city. Tulum’s greatest attraction is its location. It stands on a bluff facing the rising sun looking out on views of the Caribbean that are nothing less than spectacular. In Maya, Tulum means “Wall”, and the city was christened thus because it is a walled city; one of the very few the ancients ever built. Research suggests it was formerly called Zama or “to dawn” in its day, which is appropriate given the location. It seems “Tulum” is the name given the site following a visit by the explorers Stephens and Catherwood in 1841, just before the beginning of the Caste War in 1847, long after the city was abandon and fell to ruins. They ordered trees cleared and Catherwood made illustrations of temples, later to be published in their famous book “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan”. Juan José Gálvez is actually credited with Tulum’s rediscovery in 1840.
Brief history of the site The earliest date lifted from the site is A.D. 564 (the inscription on a stele) This places Tulum within the Classic period, though we know that its heyday was much later (1200 – 1521 A.D.) during the Late Post-classic period. Tulum was a major link in the Maya’s extensive trade network. Both maritime and land routes converged here. Artifacts found in or near the site testify to contacts that ranged from Central Mexico to Central America and every place in between: copper rattles and rings from the Mexican highlands; flint and ceramics from all over the Yucatán; jade and obsidian from Guatemala and more. The first Europeans to see Tulum were probably Juan de Grijalva and his men as they sailed reconnaissance along the Eastern coast of Yucatán; in 1518. The Spaniards later returned to conquer the Peninsula unwittingly bringing Old World diseases which decimated the native population. And so Tulum, like so many cities before it, was abandoned to the elements. ——source locogringo.com
There are hundreds and thousands of burial sites spread throughout the Mayan Empire. The entire area is full of history, stories, cenotes and evidence of a past civilization. If you are really serious about the Mayan history and culture you can include Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala as travel destinations.
You can purchase a Mayan Map which includes a brief history and description of most of the Mayan sites or you can research the internet and map out your own travelogue. This type of learning tourism surely beats hanging at the Holiday Inn pounding beers and shots down with your friends. Maybe there is hope yet—- who knows?
The Tulum site is one of the most beautiful Mayan sites located directly above the blue Caribbean sea. It has been reported when Herman Cortes and the Spanish Conquistadors sailed up the coast they considered entering at Tulum. They were turned away by the savage looking Mayan warriors never to return. Cortes later made it father up the Yucatan coast and crossed by land where he overtook a portion of the Aztec Empire in the region now known as Mexico City.
Herman Cortes and his Conquistador’s came ashore on the Yucatan Peninsula in the spring of 1519 on horseback with firearms and swords, the local Indians had never seen a horse nor firearms before and initially thought that man and horse were one and the same and were some type of supernatural beast. And as it turned out Montezuma mistook these white bearded invaders as a return of the gods and let their guard down which helped in their demise.
After spending a Day at Tulum Archeological site you can head south through the Sian Kan Reserve, one of Mexico’s most unique pieces of land, containing the ecological jungle, which is world famous for it’s diversity of plant and animal life.
On my first trip I was hosted by the Department of Agricultural who served platters of lobster for lunch. It’s days like this in your travel experiences you just look up at the sky and give thanks. The preserve is a fly-fishing destination for snook, permit, and bonefish. You can arrange for guide service via the internet or you can adventure on your own with your backpack and end up at some unique places along the way. The land narrows and in some spots is so thin you have water on both sides. If you just wanted to drop off of the earth for a while— all you would need would be your backpack, poncho, and hammock, plus a good Army Swiss knife. You could live well off of the cangrejos,(land crabs) lobsters, coconuts, iguanas, and when you really wanted to splurge you could purchase some pavo silvestre (turkey) tacos for five cents a piece at one of the local cantinas.
A fellow traveler picked me up at the entrance of Siam Kan Reserve. The road is dirt and quite bumpy and rough. The trip takes several hours to arrive at the tip of the peninsula in the fishing town of Punta Allen. The dirt road runs the length of the peninsula and offers plenty of opportunities to stop at local establishments along the way. Siam Kan Reserve has the elusive and beautiful Jaguars which play such a big part in Mayan culture and history. The reserve is also loaded with many plants, trees, butterflies, and wild flowers and hosts a variety of jungle animals and reptiles. The entire Siam Kan Reserve is an excellent birding area— yielding many different types of birds with their colorful plumage set against the green jungle. You can arrange for birding expeditions via the internet or do your own birding adventure.
The green lizard Iguana is a local delicacy eaten with fried rice. I have eaten it and I would say, if someone hadn’t told me, I would have assumed it was arroz con pollo. (chicken with rice) Iguana basically tastes like chicken. To order simply say: “Arroz con Iguana and hold the mayo!” make sure they serve the green variety. I have been told they are sweeter to the taste. En-route we stopped at his friends campground, where he purchased a beer and gave it to the monkey chained in the backyard. We see things like this on our travels and sometimes we cringe. We also have to look at the other side of the equation and respect their way of life without being judgmental. Maybe this will spur you on to either volunteer your time or your money to help our planet. Sometimes it takes the shock factor to get us off our easy chairs and take action.
He proceeded to give the monkey a bag of M and M’s, which he gobbled up immediately, and began running and screeching up and down the palm trees —-and just think the monkey didn’t even have a choice of this man-made invention. It may be years before Monkeys will have their own Starbucks, Gin Joints, Cigarettes, and Junk Food and enough Ritalin and Prosaic to bring them back to an even temperament.
Punta Allen is at the tip of a small peninsula, at the entrance to the Bahía de la Ascensión. It makes a nice night or two stop over after the bumpy 2 hour ride through the Sian Ka’an reserve. The town is small and if you continue through on the Punta Allen road you dead end at the lighthouse on the point. I got the key from the lighthouse keeper who lives immediately behind the lighthouse and climbed to the top. What a feeling! I felt like Columbus himself as I looked in the distant and couldn’t see another man-made structure— Just a variety of bait-fish, blue skies, water and fish feeding everywhere—- along with the wading birds getting there fair share.
Punta Allen is a tiny lobster fishing village with just 500 residents, and there really isn’t much here but beaches and fishing. It is quiet and small enough to explore on foot. The village is part of the Sian Ka’an reserve, and locals work to preserve the beauty and health of their section of the park. Most of the people living in town are Mayan descendants of residents from thousands of years ago. They make their living fishing, and increasingly, through tourism.—–cancunsouth.com
So there you have it! If you want to get off the beaten path, where you can explore an Ancient Mayan Ruin, travel for miles through the Siam Kan Reserve on a birding, fishing or exploring adventure, and swim, hike, and just hangout in your hammock—- this just might be your cup of travel tea.
QUOTE: “There is a destination that must be reached within a day. One person endures great suffering and continues to walk with the aid of a stick. The other person decides to rest on a rock because it is too much for him. When he lies down and looks up, he sees clouds drifting in the wind and hallucinates that the rock he is on is also flying in the air. Cheerfully fantasizing that he has already reached his destination, he wakes up to find that he is just where he was before. The first person who continued to walk has already completed his trek. Although the second one finds himself far from his goal, he thinks it is useless to regret his error.”
– Parable of Shakyamuni —–dailyzen.com
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: What fish travels Up to 1000 Miles Just To Lay Its Eggs?
The salmon is this determined navigator. Not only will it travel great distances to reach the place where it was born, but it swims against strong currents while doing so.
After salmon are spawned, or hatched from their eggs, in a stream, they swim out to the ocean, where within a year or two, they grow to lengths of four feet and weights of about 70 pounds. But when the egg laying season arrives, these same salmon return to their fresh-water streams and fight an upstream current all the way. They fight rapids and leap over waterfalls, some as high as 15 feet. During this journey, they do not even stop to eat.
When the salmon finds the exact stream in which it was born, found by its highly developed sense of smell, it lays its eggs in the bed of the stream. Some salmon die in those very streams, tired from the long and difficult journey, but others make the return trip to the oceans.—–bigsiteofamazingfacts.com
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Jellyfish! They look so much like plastic bags the fish are trying to eat plastic and as you all know that just doesn’t taste very good. If we save enough Jellyfish there will plenty to go around.
ZENTRAVELER SAYS: You can change the world by one thought at a time, by one person, by one family, by one tribe, by one nation. Since we are all interconnected why don’t we eliminate the need for military and guns and spend our time, money and energy on creating a better universe.
Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free.