A jewel in the crown of Yucatan's queen, colonial Merida
Another Adventure with Roberto? Porque no?
THE NOBLE RUINS OF MAYAPAN, THE VILLAGE AND MARKET OF OXKUTZKAB AND THEN THE GREAT CHURCH OF MANI IN WHOSE COURTYARD THE FRIAR DE LANDA REDUCED TO ASHES ALL THAT HE COULD IN CONSCIENCE LAY HOLD OF
Now here’s a day for you that will stretch your mind a bit:Mayapan, Oxkutzkab (pronounced Oosh-kutz-kab) and Mani, quite a mouthful of Mayan and a great time.
Mayapan is about 30 miles away from Merida.Roberto will pick you up at 9:00 am.It is a great and accessible Post-Clasic Mayan ruin whose restored structures are concentrated in a very walkable area.Almost nobody goes there and the really great thing is that most probably, it will be you and no one else there when you get there.There’s a guy who sells you an admission ticket, another guy 10 feet away to take the ticket from you and a guy who cuts the grass with a machete.If you lived a sort of good life, there will be a little ground fog and the ruins will seem as if they are floating in a cloud.The structures are about a 1000 years old and the city is said to have been founded by the great Kukalkan (Quetzalcoatl), a northern refugee named for the “feathered serpent”.
The great pyramid at Mayapan is one of the few left in the Yucatan that can be climbed.It still has parts of ancient frescos and Toltec inspired/corrupted depictions of decapitated warriors.From the top, the view is breathtaking. Getting up is easy enough.The vertiginous descent can be accomplished safely by the timid employing that portion of the anatomy ordinarily used for sitting.
From Mayapan, Roberto will take you to Oxkutzkab, an amazing Mayan market town next to an enormous Franciscan church and former monastery.Oxkutzkab is the wholesale market of the Yucatan for citrus fruit.It is very photogenic. Think mountains of oranges.Much to be recommended is the purchase of a few mandarinos, a sweeter cousin of the tangerine.The façade of the great Franciscan church is interesting by itself, built, as they all were, by the Mayans for their new Spanish masters and synthesizing Mayan and Christian elements.
Now to Mani.In 1562, twenty years after the Spanish took Merida and made it the capital of the Yucatan, the Franciscan friar Diego de Landa, later the bishop of Merida, burned and reduced to ashes in the courtyard of the great church at Mani whatever he could find flammable in Mayan culture.He sought to destroy an entire culture. Besides ancient writings and scrolls, there were human Mayan victims as well.Ironically, it is to this ideologically driven vandal that we owe much of our knowledge of the Maya at the time of the Spanish Conquest.He wrote an explanatory book in Spain while under house arrest during a later inquiry into charges that he had been unduly harsh to the Mayans during his time in the Yucatan.It is a chilling experience to stand at the site of De Landa’s labors and consider matters both then and now.
Okay, enough bewildering thoughts.Mani has a truly great thatched-roof restaurant, Tutul-Xiu (“Prince of the Xiu” dynasty, the last of the Mayan rulers who at the end was baptized Francisco).The food is Yucatecan and delicious.It is not expensive.
Roberto will get you back home to Casa Santiago by mid-afternoon.
Roberto’s charges do not include the small fee to visit Mayapan or your lunch.
casa santiago 562 Calle 63 x 70 y 72, Centro (Santiago), Merida, Yucatan 97000
or 517 Calle 70 x 63 y 65, Centro (Santiago), Merida, Yucatan 97000
(The property is L shaped and hence has two addresses)
Skype (US number that rings in Merida) 1 314 266 1888 Sergio the manager's cell if you call while in Mexico: 999 997 4058 Sergio's cell if you call outside Mexico: 011 521 999 997 4058