We always have fun taking a short road trip from Nah Uxibal at Soliman Bay and this time our friends suggested we go to Rio Lagartos with a stop at Ek Balam along the way. We were getting hungry so we decided to stop in one of the little towns before we got to Ek Balam for some smoked carne, a specialty of the area.
A young girl was tending the meat shop and gave us samples of the dried pork that ranged from plain to spicy. They also had sausages hanging so we got some of that too. For about $10 we bought enough meat for all four of us to eat about three meals on.
We walked across the street and bought a pile of fresh corn tortillas still piping hot to wrap our carne in for sandwiches. It was quite delicious and when chopped would be similar to what us Southerners would know as smoked barbeque.
With our bellies full, we were ready to tackle Ek Balam’s famed vertical steps. Ek Balam or “The Black Jaguar” is a great Mayan ruin to explore for those that don’t want to walk far or don’t have a lot of time – plus it has fabulous temples. They have a nice new visitors center that you pass through and then a little cluster of buildings with souvenirs and a few artisans making wooden masks and such.
It’s a short walk and all of the buildings that have been excavated and repaired are grouped together. We did not take time for the history tour so look elsewhere for that information. You can learn more about the history of Ek Balam at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ek%27_Balam
They have the names of the local trees as you first walk up to the visitor’s center.
Don’t think you would want to climb around in a ceiba tree with those teeth!
Ceiba tree blooms – they were firm soft and it was easy to imagine all the uses the Maya could have done with them.
Loved the red bromliads – also sharp and “toothy”
An un-excavated building next to the big one.
The main building – our friends had been several years before and said the palapa roofs were new over the stellae and carvings. The main attraction is the amazing temple with a jaguar mouth altar and tomb. It was walled in and preserved so that the intricate figures look fresh instead of centuries old.
The right side of the main temple
NOTE: There is NO rope to help you down these steps like at Coba. Do NOT attempt running down these steps, as people have died doing that – they are very steep and dangerous so take your time and wear sturdy shoes. Walking side to side zigzaging up and down is the easiest way to go up and down.
So we conquered the temple and headed back out. You can do a little shopping on the way out..
Or have your photo taken with Mayan warriors for a donation…
He even blew his conch for me : )
We were hot and thirsty so got a drink and homemade popsicles inside the welcome center. Skip the name brand ones and look for the cooler with the fresh made local ones. I had the coconut and it was so yummy and refreshing. Our next stop was a trip to their cenote. We did the one inside the park but there were guys in the parking lot with photos for other nearby cenotes. You might compare pictures and see which one is better. Or try both! I would HIGHLY recommend getting a trike ride or take a bike. It is a LONG walk. At the cenote they have a bath house and a separate banos house and even a palapa building with hammocks for resting and a local fellow was selling some food.
Those are roots hanging down from trees above…
Shell fossil in the rock step
Time to head back out for our next adventure… Destination Rio Lagartos