Alert: Here I am still looking back at a year ago this week, so don’t you think I snuck off again! I am simply trying to get my mojo back after being back here and not travelling since my hideous experience with Heathrow’s ‘quarantine’ hotel hell on my tortuous return from Mexico last September.
ONE YEAR AGO….
OR BLOODY XEL-HA IS STILL NOT OPEN AND APPARENTLY HASN’T BEEN FOR NEARLY A YEAR.
Archaeological Zone of Muyil or Chunyaxché.
From my journal:
Today was a day that was the mix of great and fuck up. Like the good girl I am on this more frugal trip, I got the ‘collectivo’ to my first port of call. Now I must say that I’m being frugal because I want to spin out this trip for as long as is possible, I have absolutely no desire to return to the UK at all and if I can find work I will stay as long as I can.
So back to the bus and twenty minutes down the road I jumped out at Muyil. Not molested by the few touts and guides due to my perfected ‘difficult not worth the time bitch’ attitude and demeanour I skirted them and bought my entrance ticket without hassle.
‘Muyil (“Place of the rabbit”) or Chunyaxché (“Ceiba log”) are the contemporary names for this site, whose original name is not known. Both names correspond to two lagoons located in this region. The ancient Maya city of Muyil is located 12 kilometres (7.4 miles) to the west of the Caribbean sea. It is the most important of more than 20 prehispanic settlements located within the Sian Ka’an’s Biosphere Reserve.’
Poor old Muyil, or its original name Chunyaxché, has seen better days. The gardens were lovely but the ruins were only partially resurrected. This I discovered later, is because the rest of the site is closed to the public and they are slowly excavating. For me, however, any ruin is a good ruin and I ambled around looking carefully at the pyramids and small buildings pondering on the colours that would have covered these buildings. The pale pink stucco surviving and some blue inside more protected, interior areas, just a glimpse of their real design and glory. This is all in the large National Park with its beautiful lagoons, wildlife of all sorts to enjoy on this Mayan Riviera.
‘Towards 250 A.D., Muyil became an important city. During this time, basal platforms and temples were constructed, After 600 A.D., constructive activity declined, but it was renewed in a very important way by 1,250 A.D., when several constructions of East Coast-style architecture, some of them placed at the base of the Early Classic ruined buildings. Some researchers believe that Muyil belonged to the Cochuah political region (or Kuchkabal), but some others relate it with Ekob region.’
At the time of the arrival of the first Spanish conquerors to the region, Muyilwas inhabited, but it became rapidly depopulated during the first part of the 16th century. There is no evidence that this place has been inhabited between the Spanish Conquest and the middle of the 19th century when this area was occupied by the rebel Maya.
The settlement itself extends across 38 hectares of dense jungle and only a few buildings have actually been excavated but this was one of the earliest settlements on the Caribbean Coast. Its pyramid at 57 feet, is the highest on Riviera Maya Coast. You will see Ceiba trees (hence the name Chunyaxché) all over and were know as the tree of life, protecting their citizens as it were believed to be the connection to the underworld.
So this site is very ancient built around 300 BC, centuries before Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tulum for example. So I suppose you have to be kind to this old settlement, you’d look a little rough at over two thousand years old. Of course this place was thriving until the Spanish arrived in the 16th Century. Muyil was one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
I walked down the winding trail at the back of the pyramid until I came to the keepers cabin for the Sian Ka’an Reserve. It costs extra to go on this hike and I lazily decided not to bother with the 40-minute trek and lagoon at the end that is beautiful apparently so sadly missed the hideously pushy boat owners, rip-offs for snorkelling and all types of bullying.For I had another site in mind and it had been closed on the Sunday so I was very excited to jump on the bus again this time up the coast on ‘that’ motorway.
This time my bus dropped me off at the overpass further up the thundering motorway I had (I’m sure illegally crossed a couple of days before and slid down a high concrete ramp on my arse like a child at a lethal amusement park before running over the other side of the road like a loony. This time more sedately I crossed the overpass and walked back excited and ready, oh so ready for this large and wonderful place that also had cenotes. I had checked with Google and it was open till five…… only it wasn’t. The bloody chain still on the gate and that fucking nodding big fat iguana in the same place as before obviously saying ‘yes it’s closed you fool I tried to explain to you the other day’. My efforts had been epic and as I sit at Charlie’s he now tells me it’s been closed for about a year now. So hot sweaty and very, very cross I changed my plans to go to the playa. Another collectivo and that walk down to the beach that seemed so quick the other day was a long and terribly hot and grumpy walk.
Already planning a walk a bit further up the beach this time, I went into a 7/11 and purchased beers, fags and some hideous processed snacks (I would have made a healthy picnic if I’d have known how the day would change so) and continued tramping along till I got to the rough road that leads up to the beach. At the top of the hill I saw there were a lot of white horses on the sea. The other day it was just frothing where the reef is, today it was a different kettle of fish. As I walked down to the perfect powdery white sand I realised why, there was a bloody gale was blowing and it was harsh. Ripping off my shoes and clothes and shoving them into my rucksack I walked along the beach, sand whipping my body until I found a sand dune that had a little wall behind so I thought it would be protection from this very strong wind. Yes well, there was no stopping that wind I’ll tell you.
A can of lager out of my bag I saw that it, my shoes and my rucksack were immediately being covered by this fine powder. Lighting a fag was a ridiculous mission, with my shorts now over my head I still failed to get a flame from my new lighter. I tented my head more with a shirt too by this time the lighter had become gritty and well difficult. I had forgotten how irritating it is to have this foul habit, my hands now slipped on it too from my suntan lotion. Out of the hideous obstinacy of a smoker I succeeded. Fag and gritty beer in hand I smirked contentedly. I rubbed some factor 50 on my body somewhat painfully with all the sand on my skin and enjoyed the view. It is absolutely magnificent here and so clean.
After a bit I ambled up the beach for a while to at least cool my feet but decided I liked my dune best. Swimming was impossible so I left signs for massages and what looked like kinda expensive beach bars and returned. I quaffed my last beer and sat happily watching a very proficient kitesurfer go out into that impossible sea, confidently swerving all the boats, and sometimes being pulled high into the air until you thought he would be taken up into high altitude never to return.
After a bit, a lovely Mexican family sat close by smiling and gentle. After a bit they offered me an ice-cold can of beer, rude not to accept. This was the milk of human kindness my friends and for the first time I managed to relax.and look out at the turbulent sea. These gestures can be the things that make you feel so happy. I’m not very good at relaxing but now I did. Slowing mending my poor old brain after what has been a time when you doubt humanity.
This sounds ungrateful about being at this heaven on earth, I’m not at all but I have to explain I have been a twitching and broken old bird. Talking of which I saw three herons fly past and then to my astonishment a flamingo, bright pink against that blue, blue sky.The kindness here is admirable, even the police smile and say hello. Can anyone remember the last time that has happened with the police in the UK? Even the bus driver waited for me patiently when he saw me from a distance as I waved frantically and ran over the highway, and I again felt a warm whoosh of the love for the kindness of strangers.
While writing this in my journal I have noticed that my writing by hand, you know with a pen and paper, has suffered from not actually doing it for so long. In fact not since I last travelled really. It was awkward and doddery when I first sat down here in Charlies Bar, I was horrified at the strange wobbly marks I was making on the paper. In the cool of this sanctuary I got it back in control and it became clear and legible, thank god. Be careful people before you know it you will find the same problem. Stop with the keyboards for a while and try to actually manually write. This is a part of your brain that is now also suffering. The art of writing has taken thousands of years to develop, don’t lose this dexterity I beg of you. Try it now and I bet you will be shocked. When was the last time you put pen to paper? This skill will be lost if we’re not careful as a lot of things in our age.
I’ve just had a chat with a lovely couple, like-minded and intelligent and it was so refreshing not to be slagged off. They also are waiting out the storm here in Tulum. Life here is normal, only having to wear masks in some of the shops. Once you’ve entered they care not if you let your nose out!
Well, I’m off now to my lovely attic studio to shower off the copious amounts of sand that have reached many awkward places and to make some dinner. The chicken and fruit and veg have so much flavour and it’s a pleasure to cook with these wonderful healthy ingredients. No doubt some wine will go along with that as I copy my post down to send to you with love.