It’s 5:00 AM, and we’re heading out to the Calakmul Biosphere to see some wildlife. Shhh…

Later… Today was a WOW day. By 6:30 we were in the biosphere at the campamento and restaurant of Fernando and Letitia, our guides for the day. We spent an hour in the bush with Letitia and saw all kinds of wildlife including oscillated turkeys, toucans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and coatimundi. It was quite a thrill to see these animals in their natural habitat.

 

We followed that by a traditional and delicious mayan breakfast back at the restaurant. The women made handmade tortillas, eggs, and rice over a wood fire, plus melon, tamarind, or lemon agua refresco. Delicious.

Then the older boys (los muchachos) rented mountain bikes, and biked partway to the Calakmul archaelogical zone, while the adults and the younger boys rode in comfort When we arrived, the older kids got a guided tour of the site on mountain bikes, while Letitia toured us around on foot.

Calakmul is huge. At its height it was a rival city to Tikal in Guatemala, with frequent armed conflicts between them. It has the largest pyramid in the mayan world, while Tikal has the tallest. Structure 2 at Calakmul is simply massive. As you climb the steps up the front, you believe that you’ve finally reached the top, but then there is another small acropolis of buildings at the top which is not visible from the ground. Structure 2 also has a 22 meter stone frieze which has recently been discovered there, and is now being restored. It was not open to the public yet, which was a disappointment. We’ll simply have to visit again!

Throughout Calakmul there are many stele celebrating kings, and important figures. This is one of the distinguishing features of the site. Quite a few of them have still visible figures, and glyphs upon them, although a fair number were also defaced by treasure hunters who cut the fronts from them in the 1800′s and 1900′s.

By 4:00, we had pretty much seen the major elements of Calakmul, and everyone, including our guide Letitia, were tired from walking in the 105 degree heat. We walked out to our vehicles, had a bite to eat of lunch, and then drove out of the biosphere to the "bat cave", a site where bats nest.

The bat cave is a deep hole in the ground. Shortly after dusk the six million bats (23 species) which make it their home begin to leave the cave and fly out for the night in search of food. Between about 6:00 and 8:30 PM the bats leave their nest in thick clouds like cyclones or tornados of bats. You feel like you’re in a national geographic film. It’s quite impressive.

Then back to Rio Bec Dreams and yucatecan pork for dinner with a desert of mango crepes, and liqueurs by the moonlit bar.