San Gervasia, Ancient Mayan Ruins

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January 20th 2013
Published: January 20th 2013
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Go the beach or go to the ruins - that is the question. We decide on the ruins which turns out to be a great call when the clouds start rolling back in. There's a nice breeze which makes the conditions to walk around very pleasant.

Mary and Ken, Ian and I head out on our scooters towards downtown, then turn inland on the main highway, that road that goes around the Island. About mid-Island, we turn north off the highway onto a small roughly paved road which we follow for 6 km until we reach San Gervasia. There's some tourist shops at the entrance where we each pay $8 admission, we are told this is primarily tax.

There are 18 sites, different sizes and shapes to explore. Paths through the jungle with signs direct us where to go. There are information posters at each site in three different languages explaining what the ruin was back in the day: a temple, storage for humain remains, gathering places, living areas, entrance arch. Some of the ruins date as far back as 600 AD while others are as new as 1,800 AD. Tiny doors and windows attest to the small size of the Mayan people. We wonder why they would choose to build their city so far inland away from the ocean? Was it protection from attack? Protection from storms? Or were they solely driven by spiritual beliefs and their leader who believed he had reached the holy ground?

Legend has it that Cozumel Island was the home to the Mayan Goddess Ix Chel, who had powers over health, fertility and love and was the faithful companion to the ruler of all Mayan Gods, Itzamna. Even to this day, there exists a tradition where women of Mayan decent make a treck once in their lifetime to the main temple here to purify their body and soul and to deserve the bounties of fertility, blessedness and a happy household.

There's an abundance of iguanas, they're running around all over the place. We spot some large termite nests as well. We start to wonder how many people lived here? What was life like back then? We think it must have been a strugle just to survive day to day. Along one of the paths we come across a large tree sticking out of an underground cave, we know these are senotes (underground water caves) from a previous trip to Mexico. This one seems to have dried up long ago, but it would explain their source of water.

After a couple of hours and hundreds of pictures, we head back on our scooters, thankful that we had the opportunity to visit such an amazing ancient place. I've attached some extra pictures to this blog, feel free to click on any photo to open the gallery, then scroll with the navigation buttons below the image. Enjoy!

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