Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul

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Atop the ruins at Dzibanche

  • That’s right, two posts in one day! I simply have to get on with the balance of the cruise posts, or the “moment” will have passed.

MEXICO: Today’s writing task is hard. It covers our brief exposure to Mexico, and I’m not finding it easy to process the stark contrast between our time of luxurious leisure on the boat, and the reality of day-to-day life we were spirited past in our comfortable, air-conditioned bus.

DSC_0032-001However, as our guide said several times, “Thank you for coming. After the hurricane we didn’t have a ship here in 10-months. Our economy needs you to visit.”

So I sat at the front of the bus, camera in hand, watching real life in the communities we drove through. And we drove a long way, over two hours into the jungle, almost to the border of Belize.

Our eight-hour excursion covered the pyramids at Dzibanche, and then the multi-level Mayan city of Kohunlich. What we saw was truly spectacular, and the locations very remote.

Some of these images will demonstrate how easily the jungle can take over. When they were discovered, these sites appeared as simple humps in the landscape, hidden by earth and vegetation. Just as in the Middle East, what has yet to be uncovered is far more extensive that what has been excavated to date.

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“fast food” in Mexico

JOURNALISM AND FAST FOOD: As a journalist, I’m aware of the problem with taking photographs and missing the all-important interviews. But stopping the bus was not an option, and there’s a purity to my observations of the Mexican people that tells the story quite powerfully, even without much explanation.

The photograph of the two women standing on the speed bump does have a little more. This is “fast food drive-through” at its most elementary. The roads are certainly rough, but the speed bumps are nothing short of ferocious. Vehicles wanting to keep their suspensions intact must come to almost a complete halt. This marks opportunity for women with bags of home-made tamales. You stand in the road, you hold out your wares, and then you hope the traffic stops. Our driver and our guide purchased a bag each.

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our bus driver

REMOTE: By the time we reached the pyramids at Dzibanche, we were well and truly deep into the jungle.

Because these sites are so remote, they are infrequently visited, so we were allowed to climb the pyramids. Andrew and Alicia jumped around like mountain goats; Rebekah and I, on the other hand, needed to be a little more cautious.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good guide, to get the history, and the stories behind the ruins we were looking at. Lisbeth was excellent – partly of Mayan ancestry and also fluent in English.

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“Howler” monkey (and friends) voicing disapproval

Enjoy the photographs. And look for the bleachers, where Mayan people watched teams compete in ball-contests, to see who would be sacrificed to the gods. Believe it or not, death was the prize for the winner, becasue to be sacrificed was considered a real privilege.

– DEREK

 

 

One thought on “Mexico – Mayan ruins and real people today

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