Two Day Trips from Mérida: Uxmal and Dzibilchaltun

Uxmal
I’d read that Uxmal was a good day trip from Mérida but after Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and Tulum I wasn’t sure I would make the trip out there. Then our city tour guide told us that Uxmal was his favorite ruin. So John and I decided to go for it.

Despite the weather. It was predicted to rain in the afternoon so I hoped we would make it before the daily downpour, but it started on the hour plus bus ride to get there. But we had committed, we were there, so we devised a way to both fit our belongs with us in our rain jackets. The weather gods must have appreciated our efforts; the rain trickled off as we started to explore the complex.

We quickly realized our guide was right. Uxmal is my favorite ruin so far. It is the largest site I’ve been to with multiple structures to explore, including temples and a palace. We were happy to discover that we could climb almost everything too (except what we assumed was the most important temple, for preservation reasons). The architecture was an interesting mix of forms: one temple had rounded sides and the rectangular palace was built on what appeared to be a man-made hill. Carvings adorned the facades of every building and ranged from geometric patterns to complex figure reliefs. It was the best detailing I’ve seen yet.

The preservation of Uxmal was impressive. How did these ornate details last so much better than the other places I’ve been to? Every new structure we came across was just as picturesque as the last. With at least three more ruins to go I’m curious how Uxmal will fare in the end, but so far it’s leading the pack.

Dzibilchaltun
I was fairly hungover when John asked if I wanted to join him in an excursion to a cenote, but the prospect of jumping in a cold body of water sounded to good to pass up. I picked up a pair of cochinita pibil tacos across the street from where the collectivos lined up to soak up the lingering mezcal and fortify me for the half an hour ride.

What I didn’t realize was that we were going to a cenote within another ruin. When we arrived we were both too distracted by the thought of swimming to really process where we were, so we beelined to the cenote. I jumped in and felt a wave of relief. The cool water was a welcomed refresher from the high humidity of the day. The fish that picked at my feet were not quite as welcomed. But still, the cenote brought me back to life.

Then I started to process where we were. We were swimming in a natural sinkhole surrounded by Mayan ruins. It may not be the best cenote in the region, but there’s something undeniably cool about that. After we got our fill of treading water we explored the rest of the site. It was a small complex but ruins are ruins so we took it in anyway.

Finding the collectivo back was more of an adventure. We had to walk a kilometer into the closest town, where we stumbled onto some sort of street fair that either was just starting or the remnants from the day before. A few stalls were selling corn or t-shirts and a band was playing on a small stage. Out the other side we found the random street corner where the collectivo back to Mérida would supposedly stop, which was happily confirmed after a short wait.

I wouldn’t rate this excursion nearly as highly as Uxmal, but it was still a good snipit of what the Yucatan has to offer.

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