Climbing is Fun! Yes!
So far I’ve written a lot about my everyday life participating in the IFSA-Butler study in Mexico program, but it’s also worth mentioning that I’m having a lot of crazy, pack-extra-water adventures. In other words, I’ve been climbing a lot of things.
Last weekend, for instance, I climbed both 17th century pirate walls and third century Mayan ruins.
The former took place in Campeche. Campeche was once the major port town of the Yucatan, and, consequently, was attacked by pirates quite often. That is, until the king of Spain installed pirate-proof baluartes (walls) complete with cannons. This is important to us today because a) you can climb them and b) at night, there’s a reenactment of a pirate attack that includes both a light show and paper boats. Yes!
From Campeche we hired a “tourguide” to drive us four hours into the jungle to visit Calakmul, which is near Guatemala. At one point we had to stop the car for a herd of cows to pass.
We arrived at an empty parking lot, where our “guide” showed us to the corner of the jungle that featured a dark winding path. After about 15 minutes of walking, we realized that the cows, the potholes and 5 a.m. wakeup call had all been worth it.
It’s one experience to visit Chichén Itzá, where tour buses from Cancun unload hundreds of bikini-clad tourists every hour and merchants heckle you from the sidelines of every path. But it’s a completely different experience to wander through the jungle and come across giant, ripe-for-climbing pyramids that are completely yours to explore. According to my guidebook there are 7,200 Mayan “remnants” in the Colakmul jungle. I have to admit I only counted 7,190.
From Campeche we also visited Edzná, the second ancient climbing complex of the weekend. Instead of the tour-guide transportation we hired for Colakmul, we traveled to Edzná by little blue van. To find said little blue van, we asked 10 different people in the market where the little blue vans left from. We received 10 different answers that, when averaged, eventually did lead us to a little blue van. Unfortunately, it was full. Fortunately, they let us in anyway. As well as five more people and a cake.
Once safely at Edzná, we climbed. Yes!
You might think I’d had my fill of pyramids during my time studying in Mexico, but this weekend I found myself atop yet another. This one was also reached via little van, but, unlike Colakmul and Edzná, it was located in a city and not the main attraction. I’m not sure I could make up a city like Izamal if I tried. All of the buildings are painted yellow to match the huge, imposing, bright-yellow convent at its center. The convent was built with stones from the Mayan pyramids that preceded it, and, considering the size of the convent, it’s a wonder that 3 of the 12 original pyramids still exist. In addition to the quirky quaintness of the entire city being yellow and three forgotten pyramids being scattered around town, horse and buggy taxis provide the major transportation.
Let’s recap this picture: city, surrounded by pyramids, painted entirely yellow, horse and buggies trotting everywhere.