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Katie and I spent the day Wednesday exploring the Mayan ruins of Tulum and enjoying the Caribbean Sea at the public beach below. We have both visited Tulum before, but this was our first time enjoying the beautiful beach situated right below the ruins. We took the ADO (public bus) from Playa Del Carmen to within about a mile of the ruins. It takes about an hour to get to Tulum via the ADO. We walked the last mile to the ruins, but there are other options for those not keen on walking.
We spent the first part of the day walking around the ruins and then relaxed at the popular public beach below.
From the interpretive sign, "This city was also known as Zama, or down, due to its proximity to the place where the first rays of the rising sun hit the region. It was a port trading community in a privileged location, and an active participant in the redistribution of local and foreign products coming from as far away as Central America, the Pacific and Gulf Coast, and Central Mexico via sea routes, rivers, and land. Its daily life was related to politics, magic-religious rituals, the arts, and astronomical observations, especially of the planet Venus - the morning and evening star -, representative of Kukulkán-Quetzalcóatl. Its ramparts allowed the control of activities inside the city as well as safeguarding its residents and marking the boundary between the elite and the ordinary people who lived outside the great walls."
"In this region Tulum dominated an independent sector, with connections to other ports such as Xala (Xelhá) and Pole (Xcaret), which fortified a religious and commercial route, as evidenced by pilgrimages to the trading centers of Tulum and Cozumel. One of the area's representative aspects was its architectural style known as East Coast, which is evidenced by the presence and influence that the Itzá people of Chichén Itzá and subsequently Mayapan, had at one time."
There were iguanas all over the Tulum ruins site and also plenty of sun with few areas to escape the heat.
From the interpretive sign, "Knowing that nature provided all that was necessary for human livelihood, the Maya treated the forest as a resource capable of being subjected to modification practices and multiple uses but also knew that it needed to be conserved. The main economic activity of the inhabitants of Tulum was fishing but hunting and agriculture were also practiced as these activities were necessary for survival. The society was divided into three levels: governments, specialized craftsmen (artisans) and workers. Construction required stone-cutters, masons, sculptors and painters."
From the interpretive sign, "Religious life and pilgrimage to the sanctuary, cultural expression associated with the economy, politics and nature. Maya gods were present in one or more elements of nature. Some were expressed by the stars or by atmospheric phenomena such as rain; others as plants such as the kapok and animals like the jaguar. Each season and every daily activity, such as harvests, were marked by a ritual dedicated to a deity in order for human labor to be rewarded with the best results. Tulum was a city dedicated to the planet Venus which was associated with a dual deity: the morning and twilight star. The descending god was closely connected with Venus which is why Tulum was devoted to the cult of the twilight star, furthermore, the image of this deity is found on the facades of some buildings and the placement of their entrances look toward the exact point where the planet hides. Another important deity was EkChuah, the god of commerce who was worshiped during exchange activities."
From the interpretive sign, "The architecture of Tulum has similar characteristics to that of Chichén Itzá and Mayapan, although with regional aspects that characterized its, "East Coast" style. The buildings are small scale and low in complexity, height and quality. The walls were covered with stucco facades and the modeling of sculptures and paintings were employed as well as bright colors that gave them a colorful finish full of sharp contrasts."
From the interpretive sign, "The ground where you stand is relatively young; it was formed about 2 million years ago when much of the seabed emerged to form the Yucatan Peninsula. Its surface is limestone which with the movement of water dissolves giving rise to cenotes, water holes, caverns, sinkholes and akalches, natural cavities that fill with water during the raining season. There is a shallow coral reef (second largest in the world) facing the coast that stretches along the coastline of the Caribbean Sea."
The beaches around Tulum are absolutely stunning. The water color is even more beautiful than in Playa Del Carmen. The warm water of the Caribbean Sea attracts many beach-goers.
From the interpretive sign, "This is the most imposing building at Tulum and was also likely to have been the most important. However, more than 500 years ago it would have been even more so since the facade was painted in bright colors and decorated with sculptures. The corners had large stucco figureheads of which remnants still remain. At ground level on both sides of the staircase there are two small temples upon whose interior altars, offerings that filled the air with scents and colors were placed. In the upper temple the main religious ceremonies were performed."
From the interpretive sign, "Without a doubt one of the most beautiful in Tulum. Its name [The Temple of the Descending God] comes from the niche located at the top of the door where a sculpture of a winged figure falling from heaven stands out. Its legs are up, ts arms down; it is wearing a headdress and holding an object in its hands. Although today it is a wonderful building, over 500 years ago it was even more beautiful as the temple was decorated inside and out with several representations of gods on mural paintings."
We finished our trip to Tulum with a visit to the public beach located below the cliffs where some ruins still stand tall. This is my third trip to Tulum, but only my first visit to the beach. I have wanted to explore the beach previously, but time hadn't allowed it in the past. We made it the main purpose of this trip even though I didn't' spend too much time in the sun due to my recent sunburn (my fault).