Into the Heart of Jungle to See the Pyramids (Kohunlich, Mexico)

31/01/2018

Alright, I admit. The title sounds a bit more adventurous, but in reality, we got into the Mexican jungle near Belize by a comfy air-conditioned bus. We drove for 2 hrs on highways and well-kept roads from Costa Maya, a port on Yucatan, the Mexican peninsula to which my friend and I had arrived on a big cruise ship. 

That one week Caribbean cruise was my big dream since my childhood, and that dream came real ten years ago. I dug into the past to share my interesting traveler's experience with you in a series of a few articles. Here you can read my first episode: Luxurious Noah's Ark

Episode II: Costa Maya, Mexico, Mayan Ruins - Kohunlich

I have always been fascinated by the Mayan culture. Indeed it was my secret dream to learn at least a little fragment of what has been left of it. That is why I chose precisely such a program of West Caribbean cruise, which included a visit to Mexico so close to this vast and unique archeological area.

Cheesy Welcome and My Wrong Outfit

We were welcomed by a tourist attraction already by landing at the Mexican port. Almost naked Mexican guys in their folk costumes were to introduce a mythical Mayan civilization to us, tourists.

By the way, my outfit was far from being appropriate. It didn't fit into the local atmosphere at all. It wasn't the best idea of mine to put on an undershirt with a SEXY sign on it! As we were two young ladies by ourselves, without any male accompany, just this fact raised enough unwanted attention from local men, which might not always be the coolest thing you want. Like anybody else, we also took the must to do a photo so that everybody knows we were in Mexico! For 8 hours only, but still, we were!

Now with the time distance, I can´t reply to the reason for buying that silly undershirt, but back at that time these tops with wannabe funny signs on were very much in. At least it helped as it was a good ice breaker and people were nice to us. In fact, we didn´t have enough time to have a chat with them, because the bus, as well as our guide, were awaiting us. I have already forgotten the guide's name but let´s call him Pedro, for example. He was a great guide, maybe one of the best who has ever existed. Pedro presented an excellent explanation to us during our entire trip.

Look at the photo - except for my fantastic top and my beautiful Brasilian friend ( of course not to forget those handsome Mayan warriors ); we ladies have long pants and hiking shoes on. The excursion requires good physical condition as the archeological zone is pretty significant. To walk around the most crucial part of that area will take at least half a day. And on top of that, this is a jungle you know, the forest full of snakes, insects and other creatures. So wearing sandals and shorts would be crazy. If you indeed make an effort to travel to the other end of the world, you undergo a 2day sea cruise plus a sight-seeing to those fascinating archaic buildings; it would be foolish to miss climbing up the top of at least one pyramid in person. 

Temples Masks and More Fun from Mayan's Life

What about to conquer the God of Sun Pyramid? Only a view from that top will give you an idea of how was life here in the past. You will see several blocks of buildings that served both for god worshiping and everyday life. You can see fragments of regular residential houses but also places for entertainment like a dancing floor or a soccer field. Such a soccer match back then ended with the execution of the winners, whose heads were sacrificed to gods. Isn't it a million-dollar buck award? Except for sports, the Mayans were good at architecture, maths, astrology, and agriculture. They lived in the Stone Age, and without any knowledge of the iron existence, they still managed such branches in which we have fumbled until today. However, here it was something they were not able to cope with. An ecological disaster caused probably by the excess of corn and other plant cultivation and by soil and water deterioration. So from those slowly built towns, they had to move several hundred thousand kilometers away. 

What Is It So Special About Kohunlich?

Besides being 1500 years old, in Kohunlich you can find God of Sun's unique masks. They have been preserved in its authentic beauty, still being partly covered by its original red stucco. That is why their color is reddish. You can admire five masks, which cannot be found in any other Mayan site but here.

As it seems, at first sight, the exotic name Kohunlich comes neither from Mayan nor from Spanish languages. It originated from a phonetic transcription of an English phrase Cohune Ridge into Spanish. Cohune is the name of a palm tree which is typical for Central America and today has primarily been known for its oil and massive cutting of palm trees in palm forests. Cohune Ridge is the name of the entire archeological zone. In the area of 21 acres, which is just a bit bigger than the size of the Czech Republic, there are 200 archeological sites. Most of them have remained uncovered due to vegetation protection. The original town had approximately 25 thousand inhabitants, of which about 10 percent lived in the downtown and the rest in its vicinity. We also met a lot of cyclists here who were able to discover more in less time than us pedestrians on an organized tour having just 2 hours for the whole visit.

Feeling of Exclusiveness Being Here Almost Alone

It´s not everywhere possible to climb a staircase up to the top of a pyramid. For example, the monuments in Tulum or Chichen Itza are only likely to observe from a far distance, and you have to crawl through crowds of tourists. On the contrary, Kohunlich has kept its added value. It seems nobody wants to travel that far to the heart of a jungle, where no resorts have been built. Kohunlich has remained the traveler's gem where instead of selfie noises, you can listen to unusual sounds of jungle ranging from local monkeys to parrots, and God only knows which animals. During the off-season, it can happen you are the only human visitor at this magical spot. Unlike the other similar sites, one can wander here around, even without a tour guide.

At this map, you can find the exact site location, press minus for the bigger picture of the site. 

Next episode:  Cayman Islands Adventure coming up soon!

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Alright, I admit. The title sounds a bit more adventurous, but in reality, we got into the Mexican jungle near Belize by a comfy air-conditioned bus. We drove for 2 hrs on highways and well-kept roads from Costa Maya, a port on Yucatan, the Mexican peninsula to which my friend and I had arrived on a big cruise ship.