Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day of the Iguana

Juan, who owns the campground we're on, starts early. Cleaning up palm leaves and filling up the water tank for the toilets. No idea if he is actually called Juan, but in Mexico there's about 75% chance he is. This part of the world is warm and humid and therefore work is done early in the morning and late in the evening. In between it's siesta time! The generator, an old cheap rattly thing, drives the water pump for 20 minutes and then starts to sputter and cough when it runs out of fuel.

The Tulum ruins are on the menu today and they had a special surprise for us. Having already seen the ruins of Teotihuacán, Palenque, Uxmal, Dzibilchaltún and Chichén Itzá, the Tulum ruins had to be special to impress us. Luckily they were! Where Palenque is all about the decorations, the tablets and being surrounded by jungle, the Tulum ruins are all about being located right at the Caribbean coast. What made it all very special for me were the many Iguanas. There must be hundreds of them. They are quite used to people too, even the weird dreadlocks types don't seem to worry them :-) 

Iguanas love the Mayans. After all they left them all these ruins for them to sunbath on! Not only that, the current Mayans roped them off so that the public can't walk on them, meaning they have the ruins for themselves. There seems to be a pecking order amongst Iguanas as each ruin has it's own big one, sitting at the highest point and performing a ritual to impress the other Iguanas. They inflate there neck to look even bigger and throw their head up in the air to look taller. 

On the other ruins, these rituals are performed by Iguanas as well. Still, there isn't much to eat on the buildings, so they have to come down at some stage and find some food. Walking, for them, is all about body language too. They have this macho kind of wagging motion as if to tell the other 'here I come, don't mess with daddy!' Weird creatures, weird and funny!

As they are used to people, we could take some pictures of them and could come quite close with the cameras too. Most weren't impressed by the camera at all. They also seemed to have worked out that women and children find them scary and go away if they run towards them :-) The Iguanas are not the only animals in the Tulum ruins, there was another animal that took us by surprise. While taking photos of a big Iguana, it literally dropped out of the tree next to us. I looked at him in amazement as he was something I had never seen before. Imagine what would happen if you cross a raccoon with a monkey… a raccoon with long legs and a monkey tail! 

They are called Coatimundi and like the Iguanas they are not impressed by tourists. Not even by Johnny Dreadlocks who to them must look seriously scary or by Mr and Mrs Cruise-ship who weigh 500 pounds…! He went right up to Mike to check out the Coca Cola bottle he had with him! He stayed around Mike for a while, digging for grubs and peeling away bark to look for insects. For a strange reason he reminded me of our cat at home, when he decided to have a wash and did so in exactly the same way as our cat does: sitting upright like a human being.

We walked through the ruins and made more photographs, wondering why there are so many iguanas here. The Tulum ruins also attracts weird tourists. They come from all over the globe yet somehow all look just weird. The rasta-pasta brigade was there too, as were the pretend-to-be-hippies. Maybe the Caribbean Coast attracts weird people? To put it all in perspective, the weird brigade was mostly found on the beach while the rest was admiring the ruins and the Iguanas.

The Tulum ruins were the last Mayan ruins on our list in Mexico. We only have a few more days left in this country and our journey through it has been an amazing one. What we found in Mexico is a country and people that are proud to be Mexican and proud of their history. Mexico is very diverse. There are so many different faces here that it's impossible to portray the average Mexican. The Aztecs are very different from the Mayans and the people along the coasts are different again. The cities are beautiful places with architecture that is nothing short of impressive, yet the small towns have a great atmosphere of their own, an atmosphere we haven't found anywhere else we have been. The biggest surprise for me was still the food though. No matter where you go in Mexico, the food is unbelievable. Forget Taco Bell or Old El Paso packages, come to Mexico, try everything (apart from Menudo…) and be amazed! Mexico is here to be discovered, Viva Mexico!