Ek Balam Ruins Yucatan, Mexico

Mexico has been my favourite southern destination since we first set foot in the country.  Now, we aren’t world travelers (yet!) or anything but we have been to quite a few places.  The food, sun and sand are fantastic but what really draws me back to this beautiful country is it’s history and the people.

On our very first trip we found the Coba Ruins.  It is a fascinating site, home to the highest known pyramid in the Yucatan and you can still climb it.  Let me say, that was a terrifying experience but so worth it!  You could still see paint on the stones. It was an awesome experience.

We have also been to Tulum, which was a major port city for Coba.  It is a stunningly beautiful site.  The location is unique among the Mayan sites.

I have always had a bit of an aversion to Chichen Itza.  I just feel it will be too touristy and that will make it disappointing.  I know it is beautiful, but it isn’t just about how a site looks.   Yes, I am a tourist but I love to touch and feel the history not just look at it.  I knew this year I wanted to see ruins, so we investigated Ek Balam and Uxmal before we left.  It came down to distance from the resort, Ek Balam was closer so that is where we went.

We were the first people on the site and for about a half hour after that on the day we went.  That was incredible.  You can feel the history in Ek Balam.  With everything you touch, see and smell you get an overwhelming sense of history.  I loved it.  We had a great guide who shared both facts and Mayan stories about the site.  You could feel his passion for his people, his beliefs and the site.  He grew up playing on the ruins at Ek Balam.

We didn’t do the cenote, but there is one there.

This is the entrance arch.  There are walls all around the entrance to the site are like a maze, which were likely for defensive purposes.  When the Mayan peoples entered or exited through this arch there were spots for foot washing.   They are still there and very recognizable.

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The first building you see (and can climb) is the Oval Palace.  Our guide told us it was really more of a temple than a palace.  The view is incredible.

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There is a ball court.  As our guide pointed out, most of the stories around the game are just that, stories.  There is no documented record, to date, of how the game was played or specifically by whom.

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The site is only minimally excavated.  I believe the guide said 17 out of 70 buildings are done.  It is a diamond in the rough.  Hopefully they continue to excavate and find new treasures.

Ek Balam is where the tomb of Ukit Kan Lek Tok’ was found in the 1990’s.  As our guide explained it he was a ‘King of Kings’.  There are many Mayan writings at this site so they do know much of his story.  When they found the tomb it was still in tact, all the treasures have since been moved to a Museum.

The temple where he was found is El Trono and they believe that the open mouth is that of a jaguar.  And yes we made it to the top of the temple.  Scary but so worth it to just sit and reflect at the top.

Someday I hope we get to Peru, Belize, Guatemala and many of the other ancient sites, including Egypt, but for now this makes me very happy. I feel very fortunate that we were able to experience Ek Balam.  It really was amazing.

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