This page has pictures of Yaxchilán on the banks of the Usumacinta River, which seperates
Mexico from Guatemala. I rode in a very long, narrow boat on what was a legitimate jungle cruise.
From the small village of Frontera Corozal, it was a 45 minute boat ride to Yaxchilán. The return
trip is about 1 hour because you are going upriver for approximately 14 miles (20km) to reach Yaxchilán.
I was traveling with one large suitcase, carry lots of "extras" I never really needed. I was impressed by
the strength of the young men who loaded the boats. My bag weighed approximately 50 pounds. One of the
young men casually lifted it over his head and carried it down the slippery river bank. On the trip upstream
to the first town in Guatemala, I seemed as if I was living an assignment for National Geographic. There
were cayman (small alligators) and enormous iguanas on the river banks. I also saw a woman naked from
the waist up giving a baby a bath in the river.
Per Wikipedia: Yaxchilan (also sometimes historically referred to by the names Menché and City
Lorillard) is an ancient Maya city located on the bank of the Usumacinta River in what is now the state
of Chiapas, Mexico. In the Late Classic Period Yaxchilan was one of the most powerful Maya states
along the course of the Usumacinta, with Piedras Negras as its major rival. Architectural styles in
subordinate sites in the Usumacinta region demonstrate clear differences that mark a clear boundary
between the two kingdoms.
Yaxchilan was a large center, important throughout the Classic era, and the dominant power of the
Usumacinta River area. It dominated such smaller sites as Bonampak, and had a long rivalry with
Piedras Negras and at least for a time with Tikal; it was a rival of Palenque, with which Yaxchilan warred in 654.
The site is particularly known for its well-preserved sculptured stone lintels set above the doorways of
the main structures. These lintels, together with the stelae erected before the major buildings, contain
hieroglyphic texts describing the dynastic history of the city.
The ancient name for the city was probably Pa' Chan. Yaxchilan means "green stones" in Maya.
The village of Lacanja Chan Sajab is not too far from Bonampak and Yaxchilan. I spent the night here in
this very isolated spot where only a few people spoke Spanish fluently. In fact, I saw the the man who owned
the hut where I stayed being interviewed on TV in Mexico City a few days later. He was speaking Maya, and
an interpreter was translating for him.
Click here to see a very short video
of the stream in the village. It may take a moment to load. So, please be patient
Click on any picture below to see a larger version of it.
since September 4, 2005