Our day in Merida starts quite early: After having some rich breakfast at the hotel we head straight to the airport for the car rental. A white Chevrolet Malibu with automatic transmission is aus already waiting for us (25 EUR (30.95 USD)). Hmm, I’ve never driven an automatic before and I am realizing now that I don’t really like it. But this is the standard here in Mexico and you won’t notive any difference while driving longer distances. As soon as we leave the city to get to the Ruta Puuc, there are quite fewer cars on the road, the forestation on the sides increases, the curves on the road decrease, till it seems like a straight line with no other car in sight :).
It is still quite early when we reach Uxmal. We park the car and get tickets: The entry fee of 188 MXN (10.40 USD) is split into 2 amounts (state “CULTUR” and federal “INAH”) and has to be paid at 2 seperate counters. You will need both tickets to enter the site. By the way: Similar to Chichen Itza, there is also a lightshow at night here.
The ruins are well maintained, but attract fewer tourists compared to Palenque. I don’t get it. They are well worth seeing! With fresh, green lawns… beautiful, well restored temples… and also the permission to climb the highest one. From up there you can see all the buildings embedded in the surrounding forest. Sitting in the shade, having a little wind – you do not want to necessarily climb down again .
“These boobs seem made”, says Verena (of course in German ) – I get torn out of my trance. A group of US-tourists made it to the top of the temple and there is a guy in a muscle shirt and his very slim, but also busty girlfriend among them. Any answer to that would have been wrong. I rather not answer to that… * As fast as this group appeared, it also has to leave. You have to stay on schedule with organized tours. Renting the car sure was a good idea .
We leave Uxmal and continue our ride on the Ruta Puuc… The road seems deserted. Again: No other car in sight. The trees on the side of the road form some kind of tunnel. This way it feels pleasantly cool in the shade. From time to time there are signs for smaller excavations by the wayside. Since we drive slowly, we can often take a look inside. We decide to drive straight to Loltun – we thought about having a swim at a local cenote, but the route is longer than we expected.
This large cave is even more interesting than we expected. And there are also hardly any visitors! There is just another couple ahead of us. We enter the cave accompanied by a guide. You have to usually pay 124 MXN (6.86 USD) as entry fee plus about 500 MXN (27.67 USD) for a guide. Since there isn’t that much going on today, we have to pay altogether just 400 MXN (22.13 USD). As a side note: You cannot enter the cave without a guide – one of the main reasons is probably security: Though the main path through the cave should be quite clear, I’m pretty sure that folks lacking basic orientation can get lost in here, trip and fall through some hole and have a journey to the center of the earth where they’ll get instantly surrounded by a bunch of Morlocks.
Our guide knows how to keep things interesting. He gives us a lot of information about the coexistence of the former tribes at this area and the everyday life in the caves. Loltun is a cenote-system, which is formed by dissolution of limestone by water. The Maya considered cenotes as entrys to the underworld (Xibalba), and they were often used as a religious altars – in Loltun this was also the case. It is believed that the groundwater was contaminated with all the human sacrifice taking place here, and the inhabitants died this way.
The walls are illuminated in different colors and switched on and off by remote control. A very inpressive experience. In the large main cave, our guide turnes off the lights. Absolute darkness – you start hearing every little noise. Even the previously hardly perceived rustle of your own clothing and your own heartbeat… Trippy.
Late in the evening we arrive again in Merida, fill the fuel-tank again and return the car. Though we were quite active during the day we made it with just having some snacks.
* As if!: “Go ask her, go ask her! “, was the reaction. (Editor’s note)