The Mayan archeological site of Uxmal is located just outside the Yucatan city of Merida, and a great day trip to experience some local culture up close.
So to avoid a crowd of German tourists I needed to get there when it opened at 8am. But the only bus that would get me there before then left at 6 am.
Because it was a 25-minute walk to the bus station, I needed to wake up at 4:30 in the morning.
Now, when you are staying at a backpacker hostel dorm, people hate it if you wake up really early because you’ll wake them up too. So I packed up the night before, to minimize the noise I’d make in the morning.
I run to the bus station in the dark thinking I’m going to miss the bus, only for it to show up 20 minutes late.
So I sit around with all the locals on their morning commute sweating my ass off. Not too many places have good AC down here, so you just get used to sweating through your shirt all the time.
The bus drops me off on the side of the road near the entrance to the Mayan site, along with 4 other people.
Two seem to be workers, the other two are a couple of backpackers from Portugal. They had the same idea as me, visit the ruins before the busloads of tourists show up!
We are early, so we wait around talking for half an hour until they open up the site. As they open up, I’m the first one through the gate. When I visit sites like this, I usually rush ahead to get the important photos I need before other people start to get in the way.
This usually means I walk really fast past all kinds of things at first, but when I’m finished with the important photos, I’ll slow down and really look around at what I missed earlier.
The city of Uxmal was thought to have a population of about 25,000 people. The Pyramid of the Magician is a very cool structure because it is rounded in the back. It looks much different than many other Mayan ruins. It is also called The Pyramid of the Dwarf.
According to Mayan legend, the pyramid was magically built overnight during a series of challenges issued to a dwarf by the king of Uxmal, as part of a competing trial of strength and magic against the king orchestrated by the dwarf’s mother who was a witch. The structure has an eerie feeling to it, which is magnified by all the birds flying around it.
After exploring the main site, I found some trails that led off into the forest. I followed the trails for a while and tried to sneak up on some of the many 2-3 foot long iguanas that infest the area, then I came to a large steep hill with the ruins of some buildings at the very top.
Once I climbed up, I had a magnificent view of the whole Uxmal site.
I just sat up there for 30 minutes in the breeze taking it all in, a very relaxing and peaceful experience.
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Uxmal Entry Fee: $413 MXN ($22 USD)
Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm
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I hope you enjoyed my guide to the Mayan ruins of Uxmal! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:
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