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FOTO:TANIA LÓPEZ

PUUC ROUTE

T

he Puuc Route, or Ruta Puuc, is an interesting and obligatory trip when you come to Yucatán. Just 80 km south of Mérida, this is a do-able day trip. On this route there are Maya sites (Uxmal, Kabáh, Sayil, X-Lapak, Labná), the caves of Loltún, haciendas (Yaxcopoil, Ochil restaurant/ museum, Temozón boutique hotel/restaurant), cenotes, Maya villages, and larger Maya city/towns (Ticul, Oxkutzcab). To do this route, you can either rent a car and follow our map or take a tour with a travel agency. There are buses to Uxmal departing from the terminal on Calle 69 between 68 and 70, tel. (999) 924 0830 ext. 2909. Or you can spend the night in Oxkutzcab (Hotel Puuc) or Ticul (Hotel Plaza). ed tour of the caves in the morning. Tours are the only way you can get into the caves. Entrance $146 pesos for foreigners and $109 pesos for Mexicans. The next stop will bring you to Labná, once a city of some 1,500 - 2,500 people, inhabited between 750 and 1000 AD. Presently, four buildings are in a restored state. Notice the caretaker’s open thatched roof home as you enter the site. The large palace is well restored and houses 70 “chultunes” (water cisterns) that are, unfortunately, not visible. Also here is the much-photographed arch that is thought to be the center of the city and the entrance to the “sacbé” (white road or Maya highway) that went to Uxmal. The caretaker’s wife sells plants if you are interested! Entrance $50 pesos. Next you will come to Xlapak which means “unglued walls”, a site of some 14 mounds and three somewhat restored pyramids. This site and Sayil are less restored and manicured, so you can see what the sites looked like when they were discovered. Notice the many carved stones just lying around on the ground. Free entrance. Five kilometers from this turn is Sayil, which means “the place of the ants.” At the entrance you will see an outdoor museum under a thatched roof. Check out the huge stellae dating from 800 - 1000 AD. This site is home to a beautiful palace that included 90 bedrooms for some 350 people. From the top level of the palace you can see the church at Santa Elena and across the way a tiny Maya site on the

side of a mountain, which is called “the nine masks”. There are restrooms here. Entrance $50 pesos. Your next stop will be Kabáh. You will have to turn right five km out of Sayil at the “T” in the road. Kabáh is famous for its incredibly ornate Codz Pop building, with its representation of Chaac, the Maya rain god, in 250 masks. Also take a look at the two large figures on the back of this building. Entrance $50 pesos. Just a few km. down the road is Uxmal. The most “manicured” of the sites and last stop in this route, Uxmal means “the thrice built city” with the colossal “Pirámide del Adivino,” impressive “Palacio del Gobernador,” intricate “Palomar” and “Cuadrángulo de las Monjas.” Uxmal has a tourist center with shops, restaurants and bathrooms. Entrance $413 pesos for foreigners and $176 pesos for Mexicans. Much of this site is wheelchair accessible. Don’t miss the chance to visit Choco-Story (chocolate museum) across from the archaeological site of Uxmal, where you can travel back in time to an era of splendor in a Maya pueblo setting. You will also be able to taste a delicious natural cacao beverage. IMPORTANT INFORMATION: All sites are open 365 days a year, from 8 am to 5 pm. Climbing to the top of the Pirámide del Adivino in Uxmal is no longer allowed. Light and sound show at Uxmal is at 7 pm every night during fall and winter and 8 pm during spring and summer. Entrance $103 pesos for foreigners and $66 pesos for Mexicans.

Where to Go and How!

To begin the trip, follow the signs south to Uxmal. At Muna, turn left and follow the signs to Loltún caves. You can do a guid-

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