Sunday, March 31, 2019

Hacienda Uayamon

Hospital Building 
The Hacienda Uayamon is a fantastic hotel to stay near Campeche City. Hacienda Uayamon is an old Henequen-Sisal plantation and it's really out in the middle of nowhere down many little rural Mexican roads.It's a beautiful luxurious old place that can be busy with weddings and special events. Luckily there was no big events happening while we were there. It was very quiet.

Individual Suite  

This boutique hotel has 12 suites of which 10 are individual structures and 2 spectacular suites located in an old building that functioned as a hospital. The focal point of the hotel is a 300 year old Ceiba Tree (Maya tree of life) near the Casa Principal which is now a very nice restaurant. 
Ceiba Tree – Maya Tree of Life

Our room in the old hospital was enormous and cool with 18 foot ceilings and fans that whirred above. Furnished with heavy old Mexican hand carved oak furniture that looked beautiful against the ocher walls and black and white tiled floors. Shuttered window keeps the sun out and ornate mirrors hang on the walls. Uayamon is a great Luxury Collection Hotel.
Living Room 


The Hotel is set in the jungle with interesting wild animals including the endangered agouti which we lucky enough to see outside our room. Hacienda Uayamon is so rich in history that there are records of it being raided by pirates in 1685.

Bank Building
Bank Building
Tile Bench

In the 19th Century Uayamon became a Henequen-Sisal factory and developed into a working town with it's own machine house, bank (in kind only, no money), cemetery, chapel, hospital and railway station.

Workshop Ruins

Uayamon Pool
The pool is one of the most beautiful we've ever seen. The walls and pillars of the original old structure are still standing in all their ruined beauty and you feel like your bathing in an archaeological site.

This Hacienda is a fantastic fusion of history and nature and it epitomizes the charm of Luxury Collection Mexican Haciendas sited in the Yucatán Peninsula. 

The Hacienda Uayamon is highly recommended!

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Ancient Maya Bonampak Murals

Bonampak Ruins
Lacandon Guides
After the fantastic boat trip to Yaxchilán, we headed into the hills to the Lacandon Maya jungle and the fabulous Bonampak Murals. The Lacandon are one of the most isolated and culturally conservative of Mexico's native peoples. Almost extinct in 1943, today there are roughly 650 speakers of the Lancandon language.


Lancandon customs remain close to their pre-columbian Mesoamerican ancestors and they worship their own pantheon of ancient gods and goddesses. The Maya site of Bonampak is famous for its preserved ancient temple murals. These murals became known to the outside world when Lacondon Maya led American photographer Giles Healy to Bonampak in1946.

Maya Ruler Chaan Muan II
Before we climbed up to see the Famed Murals we stopped and viewed Stele one, which at almost 20 feet, is among the tallest stelae in the Maya world. It represents the ruler Chaan Muan II at the height of his power in the 8th Century CE. The reason that the carving is in such good condition after all these years is that it fell face down and that protected the carved stone image.  

Bonampak is well known for the murals that stand within the three roomed structure 1, The Temple of the Murals. The Bonampak Murals are noteworthy for debunking early ideas that the Maya were a peace loving culture of mystics. In fact the murals clearly depict  war and blood sacrifice and was dedicated in 791 CE. Bonampak means Painted walls.


Archaeologists generally agree that  the murals are a narrative that is to be viewed in chronological order.


Room One is a scene of tribute, dancing and musical performance.

Begging Chaan Muan II for Mercy
Room Two is a scene of violent conflict with people people being tortured and killed while being viewed by the highest members of court and the upper echelons of the victorious force.

Fingernails Torn Out

Intact Lintel Showing Spear in the Chest

Room Three is a scene of a dance with observers and ritual self-blood letting.


Ritual Blood Letting with Sting Ray Spines

The exterior of the Temple of the Murals, although poorly preserved, were once painted in the bright colors of Maya blue, blue-green, red and yellow. Almost everything inside and out of the temple would have bee covered in paint. Even the floors were painted black.

Considering the condition  and beauty of Bonampak, it's a good idea to come and see it now  before the murals decay further or are closed to visitors to protect them.

Yaxchilán and Bonampak is a wonderful adventure trip and highly recommended!

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Road to Rio Usamacinta and Maya Yaxchilán

Structure 33 at Yaxchilán
Got up early (5:00am) at Quinta Chanabnal in Palenque for our driver Jaime and guide Edgar to pick us up for the 21/2 hour drive to Frontera Corozal. That's where we'd take our boat to the Yaxchilán archaeological site.  Until recently, Yaxchilán had been very difficult to get to. A very Long boat ride was the only way in the old days, no roads existed within a hundred miles. Now, you can drive to the Frontera and take an easy 45 minute boat.

Breakfast Time

The plan was to have breakfast on the way at the Vallescondido restaurante along the road. Then we'd go on to explore  Yaxchilán (Place of Green Stones in Maya) ruins after the 45 minute boat ride on the Usamacinta river.
 Finca Vallescondido Restaurante
Huevos, Spam and Cafe

Boat Ride on the Rio Usamacinta
The boat ride was fantastic. Frontera Corozal was on the Mexico side of the river and the other side was Guatemala. It is  the only Archaeological Park in Mexico that can't be reached by car or bus, you have to take a boat from Frontera Corozal.

Along the way, there we saw many exotic birds, monkeys in the trees and plenty of Crocodiles where the small ones were about 6 feet long but the big ones were over 12 feet. We didn't swim in that area.

The Labyrinth with an Alter in Front
Intact Lintel – Edificio 20
Yaxchilán was an important Maya city on an ox-bow of the Usamacinta river. In the late classic period the city was one of the most important cities on the river. The site is well known for well preserved stone lintels set above the doorways of the main structures. These lintels along with the stelae erect before major buildings contain hieroglyphic texts describing the dynastic history of the city. Most of the lintels are in the British Museum now.

Grand Plaza
After 40 minutes the boat arrived at the small dock at Yaxchilán where we walked up a ramp and into the jungle on the path to the ruins. You get to the the ruins by walking through Edificio 19 which is also called the Labyrinth. It's pitch dark in the Labyrinth and we had to use our iPhone flashlights to see anything. In the ancient times this was not the way to enter the city. There was a grand entrance with a bridge over the river.

Stucco Sculpture
First thing you see is part of the Grand Plaza, an open space surrounded by structures in various conditions of ruin. Standing is near-by is Edificio 17 which is thought to have been a sauna in ancient times.

Stairs to Edificio 33
There's an ancient stairway rising up to a small hill. That is where Edificio 33 is, the best preserved building in Yaxchilán. 

Edificio 11
After couple of hours exploring the ruins we ended up on the main path near Edificio 19 which led us to the boat dock and our journey back to Frontera Corozal. Once we got there, we left for the hour trip to the Lacandón Maya Reserve and the murals of Bonampak.

Yaxchilán is a wonderful adventure trip and highly recommended!

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Ancient Palenque Maya Ruins

Gulf Coast Plain from the Temple of the Cross
Ancient Palenque stands at the precise point where the first hills rise out of the gulf coast plain. The dense jungle covering these hills form an evocative backdrop to Palenque's exquisite Maya architecture. It was an important ancient Maya city in architectural magnificence, cultural and historical importance.

Palace Complex
Palenque was known in the ancient times as Lakamha which means Big Water. The city-state in southern Mexico flourished in the 7th century CE. The entire site dates from ca. 200 BCE to 799 CE. The Nearby Usamacinta River placed Palenque along a main trade route and diverted water was moved through man-made canals into the city. The Otulum River, a tributary of the Usamacinta, was channeled through an ingenious 50m long canal that crosses the city.

Temple of Inscriptions
One if the first temples you come to is The Temple of Inscriptions that was begun in 675 CE and has one of the longest glyphic text known in the Maya world. It records approximately 180 years of the city's history. What the temple is most famous for now is Pakal the Greats tomb, found in 1952 by Alberto Ruz Lhuillier. After he removed a stone slab, the hole  revealed a passageway and stair the led to the Pakal's tomb. It was remarkable for its large carved sarcophagus, rich objects buried with Pakal and stucco sculptures decorating the wall.

El Palacio
The Palace Complex is across the from the  the Temple of Inscriptions and consists of several connected and near-by buildings and courtyards. It was built by several generations of royalty during a four hundred year period. The palace is located in the center of the ancient city. The Palace's most unique recognizable feature is the four-story observation tower which might have been used for astronomy and observation. 

The Palace itself was equipped with many large baths and saunas that were supplied with fresh water from the intricate water system. The Palace Complex is the largest building group in Palenque and is unique for Maya cities as a royal residence. All of Palenque was decorated with stucco and painted in bright colors.

Temple of the Cross
The third major architectural group is The group of the Cross. This group is a collection of three temples – the Temple of the Sun, the Cross and the foliated Cross which were all built in the 7th century CE and arranged around a plaza. Each temple is placed on a raised platform and accessed by flights of monumental steps. The height of the Temple of the Cross allows for a wonderful view of the entire city of Palenque.
Temple of the Sun

Temple of the Foliated Cross
The Archaeological site of the ancient Maya city of Palenque is definitely a place to visit and experience. Incredibly beautiful and rewarding. 

Highly recommended!

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hotel Quinta Chanabnal - Palenque

Maya Presidential Suite
Private Stone Pool
It was a long drive from Campeche to Palenque in the Chiapas Jungle. It took 5 hours but finally arriving at Quinta Chanabnal made it all worthwhile. The iPhone GPS took us right to the somewhat hidden turn-off for the hotel in the jungle. Driving into the property you realize that it's a world apart and only 3 km from the Palenque ruins.

King Bed in Suite

Beautiful hotel that's set in a lush private jungle-garden with a multi-level pool and rock-wall waterfall and Wi-Fi. What really sets Boutique Hotel Quinta Chanabnal apart is its creators, Raphael Tunesi and his wife Elizabeth traveled around the world and found Inspiration in culturally rich luxury hotels they love in India and Asia. They then spent 5 years designing and planning the Quinta hotel that draws upon classic Maya architecture, art, cuisine and culture. 

Monkey Family Coming for Bananas
There's also a family of howler monkeys that live on the property too. They protect their area by howling and it's fun to feed them bananas as they come down from the trees.  

Dining Room and Reception
The vaulted palapa-covered reception area and dining room is anchored by carved stone slabs featuring Maya hieroglyphics. But these are not simply copies. The carvings tell the tale of milestones in Raphael and Elizabeth’s life with perfect classical Maya reliefs and hieroglyphics which look like they came from the ancient ruins. 
Jungle Road to Hotel
Along with Mexican and International dishes, the hotel kitchen turns out traditional regional dishes, some of which date back to the ancient Maya times. Rafael circulated among the guests and interacted with guests during breakfast and dinner about the Maya world and how Rafael taught himself to read Maya Hieroglyphics, starting as a young boy in Italy.
Presidential Suite Living Room

We stayed in the hotel’s Maya presidential suite where we were able to experience a relaxing four nights in the stand-alone building. It has a thatched palapa roof but has a thoroughly modern interior. We loved that it had a fast wi-fi, a private stone pool, and a very comfortable outdoor terrace near the pool where we relaxed  between adventures.

Our stay at Palenque was a special experience and if we ever get there again Quinta Chanabnal is where we'll stay.

Quinta Chanabnal and Palenque ruins are highly recommended.

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Hacienda Puerta Campeche

Hacienda Puerta Campeche and Calle 59
Puerta de la Tierra
When we got to Hacienda Puerta Campeche we were right downtown on the main street, Calle 59, at the old wall and the Puerta de la Tierra. Perfect location to explore the city of Campeche. The Hacienda Puerta Campeche is located within the cities's walled historic district which makes it walking distance to everything. The hacienda is a Luxury Collection Resort.

Puerta de la Mar and the Wall
UpStairs Room and Pool
Today the Hacienda boasts an indoor/outdoor pool twisting maze-like through its beautifully renovated rooms. The fully restored 17th century property features traditional Maya-tiled floors,18-foot ceilings with exposed beams and that unbelievable pool that winds through the property like a snake. We had a great second story room that was up the stairs and above the pool with a hammock in the room. 

Pool with Hammock
Pool in the Old Buildings
Room Upstairs at Hacienda 
Hacienda Puerta Campeche was originally a warehouse at the Puerta de la Tierra where goods were brought and stored until they were transported on Calle 59 to the Puerta de la Mar and transferred to ships for trade throughout the Caribbean area. The hotel is now a converted row of 17th century houses, the warehouse and the urban mansion that once stood there.

View out the Upstairs Window
Campeche was founded in 1540 by Francisco Montejo and it was was terrorized by pirates and marauders until the city decided to build the wall in 1686 due to the constant attacks of both English and Dutch buccaneers and pirates such as Francis Drake and Jean Lafitte. It was the days of the real pirates of the Caribbean. The main gates are the Puerta de la Tierra (Land Gate), built in 1732 and the Puerta del Mar (Sea Gate) at each end of Calle 59. 

Campeche Main Plaza
Though Francisco Montejo founded Campeche,  the first two Spanish explorers to reach the area were Jerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero. They were survivors of a shipwreck in 1511 who were taken in by Maya villagers. Guerrero married the daughter of the Chetumal chief, and their son was Mexico's first officially recorded mestizo. Jerónimo de Aguilar was later rescued by Hernán Cortés himself. San Francisco de Campeche was originally a Maya town Ah Kim Pech where the Spanish first landed in 1517.

Hacienda Puerta Campeche and Campeche city are both highly recommended.

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