Sunday started very early, and in the dense jungle rain to which we were still becoming accustomed. After spending a couple of days with 20 de Noviembre, and it being Sunday, we had planned for the day an excursion deep into the jungle to Calakmul, one of the largest Mayan pyramids in the area. It took a couple of hours by minivan to reach the entrance point, and from there it was a further 60km into some of the densest jungle imaginable.
We walked through the complex of structures, occasionally finding ancient inscriptions upon the stone and other interesting sights (toucans, Finnish people climbing pyramids, but alas no jaguars).. Being at the top of the pyramids revealed the extent to which we were now entirely surrounded by thick and mysterious jungle. It was quite shocking to have this perspective, to feel the power of being above the jungle canopy and connected to other pyramids in the distance. Having experienced the Mayan houses of 20 de Noviembre, this felt like another realm entirely and to be honest reminded me of the clear social hierarchy that was the DF. We had already discussed in the community how traditional Mayan planning consisted of the rich (in the pyramids) and the rest (in the small houses), very clear to feel that distinction now.
After climbing back down the pyramids and heading back through the jungle rain, we left the jungle to find some lunch at a small restaurant along the main road. Simple and honest food, as always around here, with a lot more flavour than can be found in the restaurants of rural Finland. We sat for a while and watched the ice-cream truck pull up, noticed the price of the hammocks (over double what was being charged in 20 de Nov) and eventually left for our next destination – more Mayan ruins. There is no shortage of pyramids to visit here, and the fact that they invariably are surrounded by unique flora and fauna makes every one of them interesting in their own right.
At the next stop they also had a Mayan house serving as the reception for the ruins. Its painted walls gave the building a nice contrast in the jungle and clearly highlighted where we were to proceed.
And then we saw monkeys, with our guide expertly listening to the sounds of the jungle and showing us where they were moving. I especially loved the way that the trees grew amongst the pyramid stairs, quite unbelievable.
By now we had seen a lot, and had come to terms with what it means to move around the rainforest here, and feel the massive weight of history that are the Mayan pyramids. We went back through our familiar port of Xpujil and into the hostel in Zoh la Laguna, assembling later for our usual debrief over Oaxaca cheese, with friendly dogs under the table. Back to “El 20” tomorrow…