Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trip to Tulum

On the one day we had some rain during our Mexican escapades, we decided to go and visit Tulum. It was, as I thought, an amazing place with a fantastic history. It was also pretty “tourist-ized” by the local government. I am in full agreement that these sites should be preserved and should be on display, but I do wonder just how it actually looked when it was a vibrant trading post and important religious center many centuries ago. The freshly mowed grass and roped sidewalks made me wonder about how much research was put into how the flows and patterns of daily life actually occurred in the city. Perhaps there isn’t much to research since the city was discovered after it was abandoned and the forests had reclaimed the land from the former human inhabitants.

The temples and buildings housed religious ceremonies and the very elite of Mayan society lived there. I can see why. The coast is magnificent and the barrier reef made for smooth and protected waters for fishing and travel. There is a reason that people keep putting up massive structures on coastlines around the area. It’s simply a beautiful place to live, and it also affords some easily obtained fresh water through the abundant number of cenotes in the area.

I thought the contrast of old and new in this shot was pretty telling with the ancient stone structure and the modern hotel in the background. Which will still be here in 200 years.

I have heard many theories from other travelers as to why the pyramids here and in other sites around the Yucatan Peninsula, even when disconnected through time and distance, have a similar set of gods and building structures. I had heard Asian/Indonesian influence and even aliens had given the designs for the structures and their orientation to various astronomical events. The guide we hired had a very interesting theory that actually Egyptians had over the thousands of years migrated with some semblance of their technology to the area and influenced the architecture and art. I must say that some of the features of the art were strikingly similar to the examples of Egyptian art and there were several thousand years between the building of the pyramids in the sands of Giza. That’s plenty of time for humans to travel around coastlines and islands to arrive in Mexico. Being otherwise undereducated on the area, I am going with his theory of Egyptian influence. Heck, he said he was Mayan, so who am I to question?

You really aren't a uber-cool tourist unless you have a really floppy hat. I can practically feel the envy you are experiencing...

Just to exemplify how quickly architectural influences can travel, we took our newly found Mayan knowledge and went back to the beach. There, we promptly built another pyramid, albeit somewhat smaller…and built with a boat paddle for a shovel.
Not quite the pinnacle of technology, but not bad considering. Especially if you wanted your pyramid to have an authentic beaver tail whacked look about it.

Next – Your Mom would have absolutely said -- NO!

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