What a shemozzle!
At 8:00, our group arrived in the dining room of the Hotel Del Mar for breakfast, only to be shuffled outside to the pool area where makeshift tables had been set up to accommodate us. The buffet breakfast looked sadly lacking – cold scrambled eggs, hard white toast, wilted fruit and waxy cheese. Not what I expected at all.
But we took the confusion in stride. Five large groups were all leaving at the same time, and we understood that full occupancy does not make serving meals an easy task. The poor waiters were running in circles trying to keep up with the needs of the crowd. One bunch of tourists was behaving particularly belligerently. I felt sorry for the staff. They stoically endured the group leader’s verbal abuse, and I thought the manager should have stood up for them.
This hotel definitely needs to establish a better system for getting everyone on their way with a better quality meal and smoother luggage handling.
But no matter… we filed on board the blue bus, and headed southward along the Gulf of Mexico to Champotón. The coastline is exceptionally beautiful and virtually uninhabited for long stretches. At one point, our driver stopped and we all piled out to take pictures of pelicans feasting on the innards of the “catch of the day”.
WOW! There were so many of them!
We then veered inland towards Escarcega. It seemed amazing how much the topography had changed in the 300 kilometers we’d covered since leaving Merida. We started out with lowland scrub and now we could see much denser vegetation and rolling hills. The changes continued all the way to our next stop, the archaeological site of Chicaná.
In Maya, Chicaná means “Serpent Mouth House” or “House of the Snake’s Jaws”.
The site was discovered and named by Jack D. Eaton in 1966 during a reconnaissance of the area prior to the formal start of the National Geographic / Tulane University archaeological study centered at Becán. The ancient name of Chicaná is not known. It seems that Chicaná must have been dependent upon the much larger city of Becán.
Chicaná is a good example of a blending of the Chenes and the Rio Bec styles of architecture. Chicaná features facades that portray the open jaws of Itzamná, the Maya creator god.
At Group A, Structure II, the door is made to look like the mouth of the god. On each side of the door itself are the gaping fangs of the serpent. The facade of Group D, Structure XX also portrays large fangs. On the shrine atop, we saw stone masks depicting the over-sized twisted snouts of the rain god Chaac.
All of us felt awed by this well-preserved, elaborate example of Maya artistry.
Just five kilometers further along the road, we came to Becán.
The ceremonial center of this ancient city is protected by a moat 1,731 meters in circumference, 2 – 4 meters deep, and with a variable width of 3 to 25 meters. There are seven bridges that cross over the moat, and connect the 19 most important buildings of the 26 acre site. These seven bridges are the only access through a very large swampy area around the ceremonial center of the site. Beyond this point, there are other pyramids and temples, many of which also feature large rain god masks as the central decoration. Forty-five steles were found at Becan, but unfortunately no dates are legible.
In addition to the distinctively ornamented buildings, Becan has a ball court with the same characteristics as those found in other Mayan cities.
We were supposed to visit X’pujil this day, but we all decided we’d seen enough. We felt so-very-ready to get settled into our rooms at the Eco Village Chicaná.
The property features gardens filled with endemic plants, and trees festooned with orchids We all worried about the safety of the rickety wooden steps leading to our rooms, but we felt too tuckered out to be very inquiring. Some of the group headed for the pool and others for their hammocks. Others went directly to the dining room.
All seemed well, until we discovered that Adelaide’s two bags had not managed to make the trip with the rest of the luggage.
The “repatriation” of the lost suitcases proved to be my major concern for the next night and day… Check in tomorrow to see how it all turned out.