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Riviera Maya

Tulum Vacation Review

Ancient Mayan City Offers History and Adventure
Tulum Mayan ruins
Tulum's Mayan ruins; © Riviera Maya Tourism Bureau
Five men stand perched on top of a 30-meter pole. Four of the men have braided ropes tied to their feet and they leap backward, plummeting toward the Earth.

I hold my breath as they spin around the pole.

This is called the Dance of the Flyers and you can see it in Tulum, Mexico. This unique ritual was created to ask the Gods to end severe droughts.

It is very entertaining to see the men revolve around the pole as they contort their bodies in an ancient sky dance.

The man that remains on the top of the pole dances and plays the flute. When you enter this amazing Mayan site, you can see this ritual for yourself.

One of the last walled cities (found to date) in the Maya World is Tulum Archaeological site. An immense stonewall surrounds Tulum ruins on three sides, with the ocean as its fourth.

When you enter the grounds, it is quite easy to imagine being back in the 13th century with these Indigenous people.

Before being called Tulum, this Mayan city was called “Zama” (to dawn), which is appropriate for its location on the sea. It sits high up on a bluff overlooking the clear blue waters of the Caribbean.

Old stone structures are dispersed throughout grassy fields and large palms. Fat iguanas sit lazily on rocks, not bothered by the tourists and their cameras. There are many different sites to see and you can choose to explore on your own or join a guided tour. I ventured out on my own, heading toward the most prominent building.

El Castillo is a large stone castle and is the closest structure to the sea. It is an unbelievable sight.

A wide staircase leads up toward the temple, where you see a sculpture of the descending god. Behind the building, turquoise waters roll to shore on a sandy white beach. Absolutely stunning!

One of my favorite spots was the Temple of the Frescoes. It was built as an observatory and used to track the movements of the Sun.

Precise holes were created in some of the stone structures to filter in sunlight and moonlight in such a way that Mayan dwellers were able to develop accurate clocks and calendars. They were truly ahead of their time!

On the walls of the Temple of the Initial Series, you can make out several stucco figures but winds and sands that blow in this area have weathered much of the existing buildings. Inside this temple, the earliest date found at Tulum was discovered on a stele in the inner sanctum.

During my visit, I took the long wooden staircase down to the beach area. The warm sand on bare feet is a nice massage after walking around most of the day. Many visitors had swimsuits and were able to enjoy the warm ocean water. I wish I had mine too! It would have been a perfect treat under the hot afternoon sun.

Whether you drive yourself, or go with a tour group, Tulum is a must see! I traveled with a day group from Cancun, which was nice except for being with a large amount of people. If you can get to the site before the tour groups, you will have more peace to explore the area.

From the stone temples to the flying dancers, this is a wonderful adventure for everyone.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Vacation Reviews   

January 25, 2013

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