Welcome to the 365th Metamorphosis Monday!
Today’s Before and After takes us on a trip back in time, all the way back to the 13th century. In November while “Sailing with the Scotts,” I had the opportunity to visit Cozumel pictured below.
Once we docked in Cozumel, a big group of us took a ferry to the city of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
In Playa del Carmen, it was the first time I had ever seen coconuts on a palm tree!
I’ve heard they can be dangerous to walk under and now I see why. Can you imagine if one of those fell as you were walking underneath!
From Playa del Carmen, we took an hour-long bus ride to Tulum. While there, we visited the ruins of an ancient city thought to be the last city built and inhabited by the Mayans. This city was in its heyday during the 13th to 15th centuries and was still around when the Spanish began moving into this area. Historians know this because they found murals depicting horses which were not seen in this area until the arrival of the Spanish.
This is how archeologists believe the city would have looked back then. It was a seaport/trading hub for turquoise and jade.
The city is surrounded by a 784-meter wall that helped provide protection for those who were living inside. Our guide told us that only priests and those of nobility were allowed to live inside the walled area.
We saw a lot of these HUGE lizards during our visit, including this one sunning himself on the stone wall surrounding the city. He looks prehistoric, doesn’t he?! I couldn’t get over how big they were…like the size of a small cat, just shorter!
This was the only Mayan city built along the coast. Entering through one of the five openings in the wall, this was what we saw. In the center of the photo below, you can just barely see the Caribbean Sea in the distance.
You can see it a bit better in this zoomed-in view. The water was sooo blue!
Visiting this place gave me the chills as our guide told us more about it.
He told us that the Mayans performed human sacrifices to their Gods and those took place at the very top of the stairs in front of the temple. That steep portion you see going up the front is actually stairs.
Our guide described a ghastly scene, explaining in detail how the sacrificing was done (ugh) ending by saying the body of the person was rolled down the long, front stairs afterwards. Often those being sacrificed were prisoners they had captured during battles when they were defending their city.
This whole area around the temple was roped off. In days past you could walk up the stairs and look inside the temple. Our guide said that too many people had fallen and been injured, so now no one is allowed to walk up the front stairs which are super narrow and dangerous.
From what I’ve read online, historians and archeologists are still unsure what ultimately happened to the Mayan civilization who lived here, but it’s believed the Spanish brought diseases to this area, resulting in a lot of deaths. The area was eventually abandoned.
When you go behind the big temple…
…this is the view. The ruins are just a few feet away from the cliffs here along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Click the image below to watch the waves crashing along the beach in Tulum.
As we were leaving, we saw these gorgeous blue and black birds flying around in the mangrove forests that are so plentiful in this area.
They are Yucatan Jays. One of my favorite things about travel is the opportunity to see beautiful birds that I’ve never seen before. So exciting!
Have you ever visited Tulum and this ancient Mayan city? It was fascinating and I very much recommend a trip there if you ever visit this area of Mexico or nearby Cozumel.
You’ll find more info and pictures about the “Sailing with the Scotts” trip in this previous post: Sailing with the Scotts: All the Details, Including the Good and the Not So Good
Looking forward to all the wonderful Before and Afters for this Metamorphosis Monday!
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