12-18-2013, 02:02 PM
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Somewhere in Latin America
37. Yaxha Ruins
I got to chatting with one of the other guests last night about some local ruins that are pretty quiet. Tikal is the main-vein place and rightfully so as I hear itís amazing. There are several ruins though and the one the guy mentioned to go to if you want a nice place thatís less touristed and a bit cheaper is called Yaxha (Ya-shaw). Itís about an hour drive from Flores so David (french guy who told me about the spot) and I set out on the bike in the morning to check it out. First stop was the local market for some grub-a-lub.
We found a lady selling some sort of mini-tamale? I couldnít really understand what she said when she explained what was in it. The first language here is Maya but depending on your particular job or who you need to interact with people here also learn Spanish as their second language.
The food looked good and at 4-for-5Quetzales (0.63) we both got two orders. I love how much cheaper things are here compared to Mexico. The dorm room is also around 40Q (about $5).
After about an hour of nice sunny riding we turned off onto a discrete dirt road.
There had been a lot of heavy rains recently so the road was a bit sloppy at points. David had to jump off and walk for a couple of the messier bits.
After about 8 kilometers down the road we found the parking area. Handy being able to just ride in rather than pay for a bus from town.
The site is a former ceremonial center and city base for the pre-Columbian Maya civilization and is built on a ridge overlooking a large lake. It was first Ďdiscoveredí in 1904. In 1980 they started excavation but much has been left in a sort of half-buried and half-exposed state.
Lots of the ruins have wooden stairs going up the sides of the ruins that are still engulfed in in jungle.
From the top of most of the sites you have good views of the surrounding areas and the lake.
Unlike some of the other more popular locations, the pieces havenít been replaced with recreations, and thus the originals are still on display.
We climbed to the top of each to get a view of the different areas. There are some 500 sites here supposedly.
There is another associated site called ďNakumĒ that is further into the jungle. Kind of like another city. The road there was impassable due to all the rains but this trail lead to the city if you wanted to make the 16k hike. I wonder if this was the same route out of the main plaza that originally lead the Mayaís to Nakum as well. Interesting looking down it as if it was a main road to another city just as the Mayas may have done. Wonder how many people walked right through that same area on their way to Nakum so long ago.
From the top of a solar observation ruin you could see across the canopy to one of the other ruins. They would communicate via smoke signals from one location to the next if necessary.
Leading down to the water there is a path where graded terraces used to be bring people to and from the shore of the lake.
On the way to the water we ran into an Army Ant raid. Last time I was in central america I was doing research living in the jungle looking for these little fuckers. So glad I donít have to be doing that anymore.
These ones had some sort of invasive fungus growing on them which turned them bright blue. Not sure what happens to the ones infected eventually but I like to think that they maybe turn inside out and an alien invades the colony from within, like a trojan horse of some sort.
This here be croc-land.
We completed the loop and hiked our way back out to the parking lot from the lake. It was a nice trip and cool that we were basically the only people in the park. For half the price of Tikal we got to see something that fewer people venture out to experience. Maybe it was half as cool as Tikal, but with a fraction of the tourists it was twice as relaxing and a great way to meander through a park uninterrupted. We headed back to Flores and stopped in a town along the way for some local food. Decent tacos for $3 total and we topped it off with some more of the killer desserts from the waterfront tiendas back on the island of Flores. This is the last dessert there that I hadnít tried, itís called Tres Leches (Three Milks). I asked what the three different types of milks are and the ladies thought long and hard but could only come up with what 2 of the three where. Tasted good though, like angel food cake soaked in sweet milks.
Itís nice chilling out down here in the evening. Iíll soak it in tonight, tomorrow I think Iíll head somewhere else called Semuc Champey. I hear itís a must.