Mexico's Yucatan Penensula is the most northeasterly part of the country, poking out toward Florida, and separating the Gulf of Mexico from the Carribbean. My wife and I honeymooned there in January of 1980. Here are some photos I took on that occasion.
The Yucatan peninsula, and adjacent parts of present-day Belize and Guatamala are home to the Mayan people. Before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores, they had one of the most highly advanced cultures in the Americas. They were great mathematicians, (using base 20) astronomers (with a highly sophisticated, very accurate calendar), seafarers and builders. They built great stone pyramids, monuments, observatories, stadia and other public buildings. They had a very sophisiticated system of agriculture/aquaculture which allowed them to feed a large population. Their government was theocratic, and their priests practiced torture and human sacrifice. They had a well developed written language, but most of their books were burned by the Spanish in an attempt to stamp out the Mayan religion.
Most of the current inhabitants of the Yucatan are of Mayan descent, and some of them don't even speak Spanish. The Mayans have several times rebelled against Spanish/Mexican rule, but never succesfully.
Chichen Itza is the largest and best known group of Mayan ruins, near the city of Merida. It can be quite crowded, but it is well worth a visit.
Tulum is on the Carribbean coast, and Coba is halfway between Tulum and Chichen Itza. When we were there, the road from Tulum to Coba had just been opened. Coba was comparatively recently discovered. It was charmingly incongruous to visit this only partially uncovered site by a lake 50 km into the jungle...where there was also a brand new, very fancy Club Med hotel.
The typical Yucatecan bike is a 28" wheel roadster with a coaster brake and double top tubes. Since the Yucatan is as flat as a billiard table, there's no need for gears here, and lightness doesn't count for much either.
Mayan Culture, Oddities and Games
The photos on these pages were made on Kodachrome film with mostly Nikon equipment. The slides were made into a Photo CD, and then manipulated with Adobe Photoshop
Last Updated: by Harriet Fell