La Ruta Puuc: El Yucatán

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MARCH 04, 2016

The first thing I tell my friends about visiting Cancún was that I had been there just days before Justin Bieber. I’m not sure why I choose to say this – Justin Bieber really isn’t a big deal to me – but I suppose it makes my otherwise predictable Mexico vacation somewhat more exciting.

Instead of indulging in a resort-style, typical Mexican vacation, my family and I drove three hours out of Cancún and followed the ancient Mayan road, the Ruta Puuc, which stops along the major Mayan sites in the state of Yucatán. The first stop was Merida, the capital of Yucatán. With its colonial charm, vibrant plazas filled with locals selling artesanías and its close proximity to the pyramids, it proved to be a perfect place to welcome the new year.

Isabela Reid/File
Isabela Reid/File

Of the sites that we visited on our trip, I was most impressed by Chichén Itzá – a predictable assessment of the Yucatán, but hey, it’s considered a modern wonder of the world for a reason. The ancient step pyramid, fondly referred to as El Castillo, was the focal point of the site with its detailed Mayan engravings of skulls and exact geometrical proportions. Although human sacrifices were performed here, those did not begin until the violent Toltec people of central Mexico conquered the peaceful Mayan people. Chichén Itzá’s striking familiarity provoked a sense of nostalgia in me – an incredible feat, considering this was my first time visiting the site.

Isabela Reid/File
Isabela Reid/File

Nestled in the middle of a jungle, we rented bicycles to make our way to the main pyramid at Cobá. I felt like a regular Indiana Jones, minus the hat. You can still climb the pyramid all the way to the top, something I’m positive they will change in the next couple years, considering the extreme wear on the stones caused by thousands of visitors’ footprints. Our tour guide’s Spanish was a bit difficult to understand, considering his first language was Maya, a language I didn’t know was still spoken.

Isabela Reid/File
Isabela Reid/File

We were first in line to enter Tulum, which is situated by the water. In ancient times, the port served as a major trading hub for the Mayans. This is also the site where Justin Bieber mooned the security guards and ran away, subsequently getting himself kicked out of the site. Is it too late now to say sorry?

Isabela Reid/File


Isabela Reid/File

After following the Ruta Puuc for about five days, my parents finally decided that they would allow just one beach day while in Cancún. After taking a 20-minute ferry to Isla Mujeres, just off the coast of Cancún, we rented a golf cart, drove around the tiny island and finally settled on the crowded beach. The overwhelming touristy atmosphere made me miss the authenticity of Merida, but with a popsicle in hand and feet in sand, I couldn’t complain.

Isabela Reid/File

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MARCH 03, 2016