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Xpujil, Becan and Museo de la Cultura Maya





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Xpujil (also spelled Xpuhil) and Becan are ruins in what is called the Rio Bec area. They are both just west of the small town of Xpujil, Campeche. Xpujil is a approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Chetumal, Quintana Roo. Both are easily reached from Highway 186. It was here I first encountered an old nemesis, the mosquito. While they were not so thick you could knock down a few dozen with a single swing, they were numerous enough I could hear a constant buzz. Actually, to do them justice, in my experience no mosquito can be knocked down by a swing. They keep coming back like the villian in a cheap slasher movie. Even though (thinking ahead) I wore long sleeves and long pants, I still got quite a few bites. This, and the heavy coastal rains, played a major role in my decision to not visit Coba, where the mosquitos are known to be worse. I arrived in Xpujil around 11am. The local taxis and combis all seemed to be on their midday break. As I walked past a few of them, I did not get a single solicitation for a ride. The entrance to the Xpujil ruins is less than 1 kilometer from the center of town. The entrance to Becan is about 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) further west. Chicanna is another kilometer further down. I did not have enough time to go to Chicanna. I was the only visitor at both Xpujil and Becan. The Rio Bec area gets much fewer of the casual tourists than do the northern Maya sites.



Xpujil


This is Structure I. Its three main towers are quite tall and steep.


The other half of Structure I.


A view of the central tower.


Another view of the rear of the main tower.


A detailed look at the face on the rear of the middle tower of Structure I. Some sources say this is a jaguar face.

Becan


With no taxis or combis in sight, I started the walk toward Becan. Yes, just another crazy American going for a casual stroll in the middle of the hot Mexican afternoon. After a couple of kilometers, a woman from Canada drove by and offered me a ride in her air conditioned car. Thank you! She is building a resort called Rio Bec Dreams. You can see here website by using this link: Rio Bec Dreams. She had lots of tips on Becan and the surrounding area. She dropped me off in front of the short dirt road from Highway 186 to Becan. Becan is quite unique in that it is surrounded by a moat. There is possibly only one other Maya site with a moat. It is also quite a large site. Several sections were closed off for reconstruction.


The sign at the entrance to Becan.


The eastern side of Structure II.


This is looking northeast at Structure VIII. It is quite large with three flights of stairs to the top platform.


On the south side of Structure VIII is the entrance to a series of internal chambers. The reason for these rooms is unknown. If you wish to visit them, the entrance is quite narrow. You will have to crawl through. The passageway increases as you go further in. You will need a light, as there are no openings inside, and the pathway makes several turns. This is not a place for people who have fears of small places, bugs, bats or dark places. The object to the left is my walking stick which is leaned up against the wall. It is 4 feet tall and you can see only the top foot of it. So, you can see, this entrance is not for the large or wide.


This is Structure IX. It is the tallest building at Becan at 32 meters (approximately 100 feet) high. This pyramid has only partially been uncovered.


Another one of the impressive buildings.


A detailed look at one of a checkerboard construction patterns.


Looking south along the back wall of one of the structures.


Another building.


Museo de la Cultura Maya



Chetumal is the capital of Quintana Roo. It is just north of Belize (British Honduras for those of you with very old maps). Near the central market is the Museo de la Cultura Maya. While most of its artifacts are reproductions, it does an excellent job of representing the Maya world. It is also air conditioned. I would highly recommend a visit to the museum.

I want to add a little story here. Many years ago, my late wife took me out to see the movie "Dances With Wolves" with Kevin Costner. Knowing my interest in North American Indian history, and my anscestry (Cherokee), she thought I would be very enthusiastic. When we talked about the movie as we walked out of the theatre, she was a bit put off because I was not very excited. Since it portrays Indians in a more realistic, intelligent and humane manner, she thought I would be happy. Instead, I was sad. I WAS happy for the positive portrayal of the Indians. But, I was also reminded of what eventually happened to almost all of these cultures when the western civilizations arrived on the scene. As I walked through the Museo, I again experienced this sadness. The Maya were an amazingly complex society. They had fully developed religious, political, agricultural and structural aspects to their culture. Most of this is now gone.

Unfortunately, you are not able to take photographs in the main part of the museum. The photos you see here are from some of their other displays.


A sign explaining a reproduction of a lintel taken from the Dzibanche ruins.


The lintel.


A more detailed look at this reproduction.


A photo of the Dzibanche ruin. The yellow circle shows were the wooden lintel was found.


An older aerial photograph of Uxmal.


An aerial view of Chichen Itza.


Aerial view of a site whose name I do not know.


The following photographs are of some paintings of some historical Maya reliefs.













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Phil Konstantin


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