19/12/2014 Turns out the west of El Salvador features some pretty amazing little villages, especially the one that I am staying in now, Juayúa. People here are so friendly and I can barely see any tourists at all on the beautiful streets. I will leave today heading to the El Imposible National Park; but before I do so, check out the update about one of my highlights in the Yucatan: The remote ruins of Calakmul, once one of the biggest cities of the Maya!
I spent hours figuring out the best and most direct way from Mérida to the area of Calakmul since I tried to avoid driving along the west side of the Yucatan. Due to a local bus strike, I was eventually forced to stop by in Campeche and make my way further down south and then east to my destination. Campeche actually turned out to be very nice so I was not sad at all to drive some extra km. The only trouble I had was getting a taxi to the ADO bus terminal to make it in time because all taxis were full and did not stop for me. In the end, I just barely made it though and even met a German couple that would go to Calakmul as well, so we decided to join forces.
Calakmul had always been the one ruin that I was looking forward to the most. The main reason being the fact that it is so remote. First you have to get to Xpujil and based from there either have a private car or hire a taxi to drive into the jungle for another two hours of driving. The other reason being the fact that it used to be one of the biggest ancient Maya sites, fighting with Tikal in Guatemala at some point in history, better check Wikipedia for that since they know the details 😉
We stayed the night in a nice place (including a swimming pool) and organised a taxi driver for 1200 pesos, so 400 pesos or about 22€ each. This deal was pretty sweat actually since the driver would wait for us at Calakmul for about 4 hours and then another 2 hours and the Becan ruins on the way back. Usually they charge a bit more for that. The driver picked us up the next morning and after 30 minutes or so, I asked him if I could maybe drive a bit. He did not hesitate to stop the car and from then on I was in charge of getting us to the ruins, driving about 80 minutes through the jungle 🙂
As imagined, we were completely alone in the huge complex. Only one other car arrived before us but we didn’t really see the people since it’s spread out so much. The ruins were amazing, including some of the biggest Maya temples you will ever see. There is also a lot of wildlife around and you can hear and spot monkeys while you walk around the jungle from one temple to the other. Being on top of the biggest pyramid, we could even spot the El Mirador ruins in Guatemala way in the distance!
Jochen was driving us back to Xpujil and smashed a poor little Tarantula on the way, but before we could enjoy a final amazing Torta they would serve there, we had one final stop and it turned out to be my absolute favorite of all the Maya ruins: Becan. But more on that in a separate update in a few days!