Friday, January 20, 2017

Hiking the Yucatan :: Tulum

Templo del Dios del Viento
Tulum is stunning. It sits on cliffs overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. It is the only Mayan Ruin near the sea, and not a surprise that it is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. 

The city was one of the last built by the Maya and was in its height between the 13th ad 15th centuries. Tulum survived roughly 70 years after the Spanish arrived, but the diseases the Spanish brought with them appear to have contributed to the city's downfall. The local Maya continued to visit the site to burn incense and pray through the late 20th century until tourism just overwhelmed the site.

While it is called Tulum today (meaning wall or enclosure), the Maya called it Zama meaning 'dawn' as it faced the sunrise. The name was given to the city by explorers Stephens and Catherwood in 1847 when they found the abandoned ruins surrounded by a stone wall. The city served as a major port in the region connecting an extensive trade network between maritime and land routes. 

My favorite picture is of the Wind Temple. and probably the most photographed. The building is called the Templo del Dios del Viento (the temple of the god of the wind). The wind god is known as Ehecatl with his temples built as cylinders to reduce air resistance from the winds that came from all sides. Some called this deity Huracan, which is the origin for the word hurricane.

One thing that surprised me was how many iguanas we saw; they were simply everywhere. Hidden under the thatched roofs, sunning themselves on the ruins and strolling across the main courtyard. You can see the spikes that run down their spine which give them their names 'Mexican Spiny-Tailed' iguana. They seem very unnerved by all the tourists and simply just stare you down as this guy did to me. To locals they can be a bit of a nuisance as they eat plants, flowers and prey on nesting birds, small animals and sea turtle eggs. They can scare locals by lashing their tails and biting if they feel threatened. I kept my distance using a zoom to photograph him. Just in case he got testy!


  1. This site is gorgeous! I understand when cities fell due to disease or war but always wonder why paradise like locations like this did not get rebuilt centuries later. Although that is great for us getting to enjoy cool ruins and being able to envision their history easier. The iguanas are adorable. I always wanted a pet one but at the same time I don't believe in keeping exotic pets. They should be free like these guys. They are like Mexico's squirrels I guess being a pain!

  2. Amazing temple! Just like Val I love iguanas :) I saw some up close back in Indonesia, but not as big as yours though!

  3. I love to try to visualize what a place like that must have been in its full glory. That's really interesting about the wind temples being cylinders. Nature is was ever present and had to be respected. Lucky lady getting to walk through all those amazing ruins!

  4. I'm glad I can travel vicariously through you cause reptiles are a big fat 'nope' to me. lol

  5. Wow, what a gorgeous area! It's too bad about the diseases which brought down the city! I'm glad you photographed this iguana through a zoom! LOL!!!! Big Hugs!

  6. Very cool! I didn't know about the word origin for hurricane - neat! There are these huge wild iguanas all over parts of Florida, too. They really freak me out! My husband insists that if it gets cold, they basically freeze up and that they'll fall out of the trees. I can't decide whether he's just teasing me or not...

  7. Awesome blog post!:) Love iguanas too, I live in Florida and we have one outside named Billy that loves eating lettuce and laying in the sun all day! Also, your jewelry work is gorgeous, stay inspired!

    Laura xo

  8. I love iguanas! So fearsome looking, yet so timid!


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