Today we went all Indiana Jones and visited the Maya archaeological site of Dzibilchaltun, which was a mere 30 minutes from our door and just off the beaten path of residential development. I was most interested in the ruins, while Valentina was most excited about the cenote – for those of you who may be unaware, cenotes are is a sinkhole or natural pit created from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes the ground water beneath, and are very common in the region – which was located near the centre of the city’s ruins.

Like most archaeological sites, Dzibilchaltun included a museum that housed a lot of artifacts from the site itself and surrounding region. The museum itself was rather ho-hum, with nothing particularly exciting or noteworthy, except for perhaps the air-conditioned rooms, which offered a pleasant respite from the 38oC weather that we had slogged through to reach the museum. After about twenty minutes of casually strolling through the museum, we ventured outside and made our way to the big attraction: Temple of the Seven Dolls.

Dzibilchaltun Temple of The Seven Dolls

The Temple of the Seven Dolls was still in excellent condition

The Temple of the Seven Dolls, so named after the seven small figurines found at the temple during excavation, was rather impressive. It was in excellent condition, and while we could not climb its steps, we could still appreciate some of the details in its interior. Fun fact: during a vernal equinox the temple catches the rising sun in such a way that it shines directly through one window and out the other of the temple, which apparently gives it a rather divine character.

From the temple we walked the sacbe – “white road”, so-named as it was originally topped with white limestone – which was just over a kilometre long and connected the temple with the rest of the site. At the former Central Square of the site there were a few more ruins in various states of existence, one of which was quite large and climbable, a sixteenth-century Spanish church, and what is considered to be the largest series of steps in Mesoamerica that faced inwards towards the Central Square.

Dzibilchaltun Central Square

A view of Mesoamerica’s largest series of steps from the top of a pyramid


And now a view from the steps – to the left is the sixteenth-century church

After climbing around the 1000-year old buildings for a bit, we made our way to the cenote . Now, this was my first ever experience with a cenote and it was quite pleasant. The water was cool and refreshing, but amazingly clear, so clear that it was near vertigo-inducing. Standing on its edge, and even in the water, you could see down the 44-odd metres to the bottom or at least to the top of the plants that were growing up from the bottom of the cenote.

Dzibilchaltun Cenote

The water of the cenote was super clear and very refreshing

Luckily we had arrived post-tourist hours, so we were able to swim/float about relatively undisturbed but for a handful of other people sitting along the cenote’s edge; Valentina was even able to enjoy a pedicure courtesy of the relatively fearless fish in the cenote – her feet had never been so smooth.



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