I didn't go throughout Mexico, my travels were in the Yucatán Penninsula. I chose this area because of the high concentration of pre-Columbian (mostly Mayan) sites. My travels were limited to land because of an unfortunate injury. I found that my Spanish was better understood here than it was in Spain. I'm not sure if it's because they are more used to U.S.tourists speaking Spanish or if my growing up in an area with many Mexican immigrants has led to my speaking with more of a Mexican slant.

Xcaret is an ecological theme park built around Mayan ruins. It's very interesting: the ruins, wildlife (including butterflies), a beach, a chance to body surf through the park in underground rivers, an orchid farm, swimming with dolphins, etc. I was taking pictures of my favorite birds - flamingoes - when this bird walked right up to me. I wasn't sure what it was, but I think it's a roseate spoon bill.

Bacalar is about a half hour north of Chetumal. It's a nice, quiet little town on the Laguna de Siete Colores. Along with the lagoon there is the Cenote Azul which is open for swimming. When leaving Bacalar, I saw this burro calmly traveling in the back of a fast moving pickup.

On the way from the Caribbean side to the gulf side of the Yucatán Penninsula are the Río Bec sites. This style was dominant between the years 600 and 900. Becán is thought to have been occupied by at least 550 and is unusual because it is surrounded by a trench or moat up to 16 foot deep and 52 feet wide. This is a detail from one of the buildings.

Another Río Bec site is Xpujil, east of Becán. Xpujil reached its peak in the years 400 to 900. This is the main temple with its 50 foot towers. They are climbable - in this picture there some teens sitting up there - which gives some perspective of the size of the towers.

In Tulum I stayed just off the beach in a cabana. It was so nice and peaceful, and you could hear the waves crashing all night long. The cabana was a nice way to stay - like camping but with a real bed and bathroom! I had spent the day walking around the Tulum ruins, and it was nice to relax in a hammock on my cabana deck and watch the sunset.

Campeche is a cool city with a lovely main square. There are trolleys that leave at intervals from the square taking people on a tour of the town. It also has a wonderful waterfront with a trail for biking or jogging or strolling. All along the waterfront are little plazas with nice sculptural touches. This statue I first came upon at night when I arrived in Campeche - what an awesome sight! Unfortunately, I never found any info about it, so if anyone knows - clue me in!.

Merida is also a great city and like Campeche, has an European feel. It has a great main square for people watching. There is also an interesting archeology and history museum along a wide boulevard lined with sculptures. This picture is of the entrance to Parque del Centenario. The park contains paths for walking, a playground, refreshment stands, rides, and a zoo.

And finally - Chichen Itza, one of the most famous Mayan sites. It was used between the years 500 and 1000. This is one of the scoring rings in the ball court. The goal was to send a hard latex ball through one of the rings using knees, elbows, and hips. It is thought that the losers were used as sacrifices and put to death. Having lived all my life in Chicagoland, I think it's good that this is not a modern practice.


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