147. Shots of Maya with a Corona Back

Shots Of Maya With A Corona Back: The closer we draw to the booze and sol drenched fist of land that is the Yucatan peninsula, the more cluttered the map becomes with the symbol that looks like a little stack of pancakes, but is in fact the symbol for “ruins.” This is the great dilemma of the Yucatan, that it is as well (or more) known as a port for cruise ships that disgorge great thundering waddles of Middle America, as it is known as home to some of the best preserved remnants of ancient Mayan civilization. In the Yucatan countryside, Mayan culture persists in the hard lives and delicious cuisine of local descendants. In Cozumel, packaged resort culture flourishes with the aid of hourly, executive air-taxi services to the mainland. Ceviche, panuchos, exquisite pyramid tombs, carved acropolises, googley-eyed shell souveniers, frat boys and jello-shots. The Mayans invented the concept of zero. Cancun invented the concept of zero class.

Even though we are destined to pass through that neon hedonia (80% of Mexico’s international flights depart/arrive in Cancun), the road there has been most interesting. For all the Mayan influence dotting the Yucatan’s shell-pack dirt roads, the most interesting ruins we’ve visited were Monte Alban, outside of Oaxaca, and the jungle temples of Palenque in Chaipas state. Monte Alban, a rectangular collection of pyramids and palaces perched like a throne on a flattened hilltop that looks three hundred and sixty degrees down on the surrounding countryside. Palenque, born as much out of cultural superiority as the hallucinogenic fungi used in local cuisine, a rambling collection of enormous monuments chiseled into the exact spot where jungle mountains begin rise out of the gulf plains. Howler monkeys, an impassable green thicket rise behind, an endless flat of farm plots laid out in front. And both Monte Alban and Palenque, far enough inland from any cruise ship port of call to still feel a little bit lost and a little more timeless.

Photos: Top, doorway at Palenque; inset, carving of felled rival ruler at Palenque; below, tour group at Monte Alban; Palenque above the plains; tree/pyramid at Monte Alban and; Monte Alban vista.


  1. Your photos continue to amaze.


  2. Erin says:

    I have to echo Jed….these pictures are beautiful. I will gladly sit through 12 hours of slideshows when you get back.

  3. furey says:

    …good stuff.