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Published: September 24th 2019
From doing research online it was apparent that this Mayan city was difficult to get to, a blog titled “how the hell do you get to Calakmul” revealed the difficulty, at least for the authors. Thanks to their hard work and stress it made my journey rather easy. Although, it took ten hours of travel including sitting in a Burger King playing Football Manager for three hours waiting for a connecting bus.
My destination was the town of Xpujil (Esh-poohill), a small rural town with nothing except a few hotels. This is the closest town to Calakmul, I think around 120km away. The journey to Calakmul is 45 minutes spent driving down the highway and around an hour an half down a pot hole laden road through the jungle. I was advised to take plenty of water and food, because as you can imagine, there's NOTHING around.
There's a visitor centre in the process of being built so it seems the Mexican government are going to take advantage of this site and I can imagine it being more popular than Chichen in a few years time, what a shame that will be.
Located in the middle of the jungle 35km from the Guatemalan border, it's one of the largest Mayan cities found. The kings who ruled over the city would've had around 2 million subjects including the rural areas as far away as 150km. If you want to know more you can find lots of info on wikipedia.
The site is HUGE. It took me 4 hours to walk around the entire site, not that I was rushing. My arrival at the main plaza of the city was greeted by the sound of Howler Monkeys and the continuous dull buzz of all kinds of bugs in the jungle which created an ominous atmosphere. They sound more like dinosaurs than monkeys, something I guess is used to ward off predators because they're tiny little guys.
The main pyramid here is the second biggest Mayan pyramid, I think it's around 40M. The plaques with info contained different figures...maybe one of the measurer’s had too much Tequila the night before?.
At the top you get a view of the full scale of the site and can just see the tops of various buildings protruding through the jungle canopy below. It's quite a humbling experience getting to see the site similar to how the Maya would've seen it. Chichen and the other sites have been excavated and most of the trees in the areas cut down, whereas Calakmul is fully still in the jungle. The Mayans had a strong connection with nature, unlike our present civilisation, and preferred to work with the nature rather than against it. Nature has taken back a lot of the structures and much of the site remains undiscovered, laying dormant In the thick jungle for a 1000 years and who knows for how much longer which gives the feeling of being the first person to walk there in as long. The site greatly reminded me of Angkor in Cambodia, the way the trees are growing through the buildings.
The only downside, although I do understand why, is that you can't enter the pyramids. Thick iron doors are covering the entrances and the treasures hidden inside. All this did however was make me more determined to become an archaeologist, the idea of spending my life exploring buildings like this excites me greatly.
On the way back my driver showed me a video on his phone from a while back. He was driving with some tourists down the jungle path and someone had left their poor dog tied up while they visited the pyramid site. A plucky Jaguar had discovered the dog and the video was of the Jaguar first killing the dog and then trying to drag it away, without success as the dog was tied up. Quite a graphic video, but also impressive in some way. Moral of the story, don't leave your dog tied up in the jungle!.
I missed my 4.30am bus to Palenque (more ruins) by sleeping through my alarm, so I've gotten stuck in what must be the worst place to get stuck. The wifi is limited, and the fun more so. Hopefully I have better luck getting up in the morning then I can continue with my travels.
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