Yucatán Peninsula

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Mexican influence extends the world over, with its cuisine, music, style and traditions. With more than one hundred million people, it is a rapidly developing nation and in 2015 had the second largest economy in the Hispanic world, behind only Spain itself. It also has its fair share of history, with the well-preserved ruins of various indigenous peoples such as the Maya, Aztec and Olmec dotted about the country.

Our family visited Mexico just for a long weekend during our move back from Houston to Dubai in 1990. We stayed in Mérida, capital of the Yucatén Peninsula, an area of land perhaps more famously known for Cancun and partying Texans. The highlight of our trip was a visit to the ancient city of Uxmal.

Our hotel in Merida

Our hotel in Merida was a classical colonial Mexican affair, fairly simple place but with lots of charm. Here my sister and I brave the cold waters of the pool.

The ancient city of Uxmal, deep in the Mexican jungle. Perhaps not as widely known as nearby Chichen Itza, but nevertheless impressive, the city sports the curved-wall Pyramid of the Magician. I felt like Indiana Jones exploring around.


Mexican basketball

Even in Mayan times game were played, this is one of a number of Mesoamerican ball courts, in popular use during the late first millennium. Records of the rules are sketchy, but this simply allows us to postulate that the losing team's captain would be decapitated and his head lobbed through the hoop in celebration. Probably.

The Pyramid of the Magician was built around the sixth century, and saw continued use until being abandoned around the turn of the second millennium. This makes it considerably younger than its Egyptian counterparts, although it is quite unique among pyramids the world over for having rounded sides and being extremely steep.

Pyramid of the Magician

Top of the Pyramid of the Magician

We took a well-deserved break at the top of the pyramid, to gaze across the Mexican jungle. Since our visit in 1990, the whole city has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site, and tourists are no longer permited to climb the pyramid, in order to better preserve it.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2003-2015