Mayan Circle Part 3
The next day I waited in the hotel lobby at 9am to meet for the Uxmal tour as instructed. Upon my arrival, my tour leader informed me of the bad news. The tour was full. My tour leader offered me the option of doing the afternoon tour that included dinner and a light show instead. I was pretty happy with this option, because that allowed me the morning to explore the city, as well as take advantage of the free walking tour before the start of the afternoon Uxmal tour .
The free walking tour started at 10am, so I headed to the tourist office near the main square and filled out a visitor form before starting the walking tour. The guide was a volunteer who was knowledgeable about the history of Merida. Unlike other walking tours I’ve been on, this was one of the shorter ones in terms of kilometers actually walked. We only walked around the main square, which is probably less than 1km, but I guess that’s where the important historical buildings such as the city hall, cathedral and museums were. The museum had on display paintings that showed grim images of the Spanish conquest. After the tour, we kindly tipped our guide and headed to the colorful local food markets to grab some lunch.
It’s strange when you’re obviously the only foreigners in a busy area. In the food market there were fruit vendors, meat vendors, baked goods, etc. I tried the highly recommended tamales and a liquado.
Tamales are a type of corn meal wrapped in banana leaves and liquados are fruit flavored drinks made with fruit and water. The tamale I had tasted good, but the texture was a bit hard on the outside.
The liquados looked unappetizing from their presenation. They drinks were served in large foam cups and had clear plastic sandwich bags covering the top for a lid, with a straw poked through the top. To my surprised, they rated high on the flavor scale. By the time we finished our lunch, it was time to head back to the hotel for the Uxmal tour.
The local tour operator met us at our hotel and walked us to their office to pay for the tour. We waited another 20mins before a large tourist sized bus came to pick us up. My first reaction was “What the heck is this? I thought it was supposed to be a small van?”
We loaded onto the bus and got our own seat because it was pretty empty. The reason it was empty was because the bus still had to go around the entire city of Merida picking up passengers from other hotels. I was unhappy about the situation, but fell asleep. My tour mate was not so lucky and was fuming by the time we got to the ruins.
We arrived at Uxmal and waited in line another 40mins for our tickets to enter. They separated us according to the language we wanted the tour guide to speak. The group of English speakers was only 4. Luckily our local tour guide knew we would want to climb up one of the temples and told us we would have to rush through the tour if we wanted to do so. We had 30mins before they stopped letting people climb temple. What is it about adults wanting to climb things?
The Spanish speakers on our tour were not so lucky and disappointedly walked away without being able to climb the temple.
At 5pm the ruins closed for break and we got back on the bus and headed to a restaurant for dinner, which was part of the tour package. By the time we arrived, two large buses were parked in the lot. I had a feeling we would be waiting a while for dinner. First the waiters took our orders. Then they brought out the soup to the other side of the room. Then we some some people getting their main course. Our table was still bare except for the empty bread basket we devoured. When I saw the waiter take away the dishes for the main course, and started bringing out the dessert, I had to stand up. I didn’t even have to speak Spanish. I just made an unhappy face and pointed to our empty table and they understood their error. Half of the restaurant was done their dessert and leaving the restaurant.
My group of fellow English speakers were the last to be served and waited 1.5hours before we got any food. We were close to missing the light show and our local tour operator knew we would be angry if we did. The good thing was that when they said the light show would start at 7pm, they meant Mexican standard time, so we had about 20mins leeway before anything actually happened.
The combination of a light show and Mayan ruins sounded cheesy to me, so I had my expectations low.But to my surprised, it actually look cool with different colors of light. I was impressed at how the carvings were more visible in the different colors of light. Despite the story being in Spanish, I enjoyed the show. I’m sure the audio was cheesy since the audience members laughed at parts I’m sure were supposed to be dramatic rather than comical. After moving past the crowds, we got back on the bus for another long ride, where we were guaranteed another sightseeing tour of Merida. My tour mate complained and was told to by the local tour operator take a taxi if she didn’t like the way things were run.
When we finally got back to the hotel my trip leader asked how was the tour. I told her “It was crap”, and at first she thought I was joking until she heard about what had happened. I explained to her the whole story about the long bus rides around town, the short time at the ruins, and the long wait times at dinner. I also found out that one of the English speaking guys who booked at his hostel got it for 275Pesos ($25). I told my trip leader if they’re going to be recommending local tour operators they really should make sure they will do a good job. My trip leader was not pleased with the news and she said she would talk to them the next morning. My upset tour mate was so angry she couldn’t even speak to the trip leader that night and waited until the morning to cool down. It was already past 10pm when we reached the hotel. Time for bed. Early start tomorrow for the town of Palenque.
Overall, I enjoyed Uxmal more than Chichen Itza. It was less crowded, had a larger area of excavated buildings, and felt more authentic without the street vendors. Despite the bad stuff that happened, I’m glad I did the tour. I just don’t feel it was worth 375pesos. On the plus side we got to climb that temple and got a free city tour of Merida