Ek Balam, now that was an awesome site to explore! It’s only become a tourist attraction in the past few years, so they don’t have as many rules and regulations in place as some of the other places. This means you get to climb all over everything! I know that from an archaeological standpoint that that is very bad and it’s hard on the buildings but it was such a nice treat to get so close to everything instead of standing at a distance behind a tiny rope fence. Today’s tour guide was Alejandra Nunez – she had so many good tidbits of information about the site.
As an added bonus, the site has some of the best preserved reliefs on the facade of the temple representing the three planes of existence, the governor and the religious leader. The temple is also a tomb (yay dead things!). Fun, gory fact: they use the femur of the previous ruler to make the scepter of power for the new governor/ruler. Less fun fact: in-breeding and physical deformities were common amongst the ruling class. Ah you win some, you lose some.
They have a fantastic temple to climb up too, it’s about 32m high, with some great panoramic views of the jungle and the rest of the site (that’s where I took my blog profile pic from). The steps at the bottom are a bit tricky though – they get wider and a lot more slick which is less helpful when your short legs are getting a bit fatigued from climbing down. But there were no casualties, at least not while we were there.
We finished off the day with lunch at a local Mayan village – I highly recommend eating the local food, it was so fresh and delicious. But not the water, never the water. Then another round with a shaman and a plunge in a much larger cenote (this one we rappelled 25m down to the frigid water) before calling it a day.