Diary 6 (or you say mayan, I say mayan)31/7/2001 My first real day in Mexico, even if it is the plastic and frankly cheesy Cancun. This is where American´s come to spend dollars, speak American and pretend that the USA has a Carribean coast. Well, apart from the odd fistfight on the beach it was pretty mellow day on the beach with not a lot happening; just a lot of winding down. Got the beginnings of a tan on my belly :-)What a bad night´s sleep, the fan´s in the hostel are so loud it´s like trying to sleep under a helicopter. Early start to catch the bus to Puerto Juarez and then the slow ferry across to Isla Mujeres, about 8km long and 3-800m wide. After a wander round town and the local cemetary - which was beautifully painted in the most amazing bright colours, I wandered south on the island´s one ring road. They should ban cars on the island, the tourists rent out golfcarts to get around so all the traffic moves at about 10 mph. The sea turtle farm had turtles from 2 inches to 6 feet long. THe small ones are cute! Proceeded south, through a bunch of resorts fronting the sea, until at Playa Indios I heard a strange noise, a bit like a pelican (which I had seen flying earlier). It was actually the bark of 6 sealions, in a pen at the rear of the resort. After a quick conversation I wandered further and found 2 dolphins in a raised pool overlooking the beach. It was completely deserted, all the the kids were playing in the surf 150yds away, so I kept them company for an hour or so. They swam right up to the edge and rolled over so I could rub their bellies! Continuing south I ran out of beach, but after rock crambling for 300m came into the back entrance of Playa Garrofon which normally costs 11 quid to get into for the snorkelling here. As I got in for free I had a beer, lunch and a snooze under a tree for an hour or so. Life is sooo stressful. Last stop of the day was the Mayan ruins (MY FIRST!), really a non-descript small pile of rocks on the south end of the island. The surf was getting up on the exposed rocks, and a nice way to watch the pelicans fishing again. It took a meandering couple of hours to return up the east side of the island, during which I totted up the following totals for the day... 6 sealions, 2 dolphins, pelicans, herons, lizards (2" to 3´), butterflies, sea turtles, doggies (but no barking ones) and a very cute kitten as I had dinner before catching the ferry back to the hostel. Time to plan my departure from Cancun and get batteries for the walkman so I can sleep tonight.Plans are afoot, and in preperation for tomorrows full day on Chichen Itza, I board the bus to Valladolid at 9am. This was a very luxurious 1st class ride, so 2nd class cant be too bad for the future. Valladolid is a sleepy market town with just a little too much traffic around its main square. Bypassed by most of the traffic bound for Chichen Itza it has a nice colonial air, with brightly painted buildings, simple high rooms inside and peaceful streets outside. Found a room in a lovely little youth hostel off a park near the centre of town, dumped my bags and went to soak up some of the atmosphere. After filling my belly with nachos I rented a bike and set of out of town for the cenotes, underground reserviors formed in the limestone geology and the regions primary sources of water. Dzitnup cenote looked heavily touristy with tour buses lined up and souvenier hackers lining up to relieve me of my pesos, so I back tracked 200yds to the Samula Cenote, and what a difference! 400 yards of the main road, a single bored lad in a single ticket booth marks the entrance, down a flight of concrete steps into loveliness. The lake is 30m in diameter, circular with a little platform at the base f the stairs. IN the naturally domed ceiling (with stalactites), a 5m hole provides the sole illumination, and entrance for the roots from an alamo tree that plunge the twenty metres to the pool to drink. The water is gorgeously cool and clear, and my only company is 3 mexican kids who I think spend all day down here, and the eyeless fish. WOW! Wandered back the 7km to town on my single geared bike and spent an enjoyable evening in the hostels candlelit garden with some Dutch travellers, 2 germans and a brit called Karen. I have a packed lunch and plenty of film ready for tomorrow - Chichen Itza!Saturday at Chichen Itza! This is the most visited of all the Mayan sites, so we got there at 8.30, well before the hoardes of daytrippers from plastic Cancun. The site was almost deserted, great photos. The inital view of the 9 tiered Castillo pyramid is staggering as it rises over 30 m above the surrounding structures and forest. It is flanked by rows of columns around the Temple of Warriors and the ball court, whilst from its crown numerous other stone structures peer out from the forest´s green canopy. Found a really photogenic lizard out in the collonades, he knew just when and where to pose! Further into the woods, a stone causeway leads past the Xlacah cenote to a "nunnery" (named by the Spaniards for its many rooms) and Akáb Tzíb decorated by stylised human faces, "big nosed masks" according to the guide book. Returning to the central Castillo takes you via platforms for ceremonial dancing and celebrations and a caracol, an astronomical observatory with characteristic round walls and domed roof. The ball court has two parallel walls, with 3´ rings mounted high on their inner surfaces. Frescos of sacrified players and the opposing team decorate the walls whilst the Upper Temple of Jaguars looks down from above. Finally, to the north, a sacred cenote, recipient of countless sacrificial victims and items of tribute nestles by an inexpensive cafe populated by hundreds of wasps. It was only later, when eating lunch whilst sheltering from the drizzle that the scale of the Mayan culture began to sink in. Their legacy was a proud and violent one with frescos of decapitated ball players, rows of carved skulls, were-jaguars and were-eagles and the symbiotic relationship of rulers and ruled that required personal bloodletting and human sacrifice respectively. As we ate lunch, someone made a sacrifice of their own: falling from the top of the Castillo, down the steep stairway to the ground beneath. The paramedics were there in seconds - I wonder how often that happens ? The gods weren´t appeased though as it continued to drizzle for most of the day. The light and sound show in the evening, illuminating the central complex of ruins made a fitting conclusion to a day of awe and amazement and after 13 hours we left the site for Valladolid, 45 minutes away on a muggy, bumpy and crowded bus home.Sunday started in the morning with a dip in Cenote Zaci, in the middle of Valladolid. It was a bit dirty with bird and bat guano, but nice and cool and a good wind down after the baking sun and incessant drizzle of yesterday. After waiting 2 hours for the "hourly" bus to Merida we finally got on our way. Its raining when we arrive, and frankly it looks like a sh*thole. Everyone is inside avoiding the rain and watching the Mexico versus Columbia football final of something or other. The hostel is full, so we book into a grubby hotel which is actually cheaper. I bought a hammock, its got green, blue and cream stripes. Dinner was on the central plaza (after the rain finally stopped) with salsa bands playing their hearts out whilst the crowd boogied away. Tomorrow: Uxmal. Turns out we have bugs in the bathroom.Monday´s plans are ever so slightly fubarred when we miss the 9am bus to Uxmal, but we got checked out of the buggy hotel and into the hostel! It looks clean and the staff are really friendly and helpful. Uxmal turns into a quick visit courtesy of the noon bus. The site is smaller than Chichen Itza, but no less impressive for the complxity of its acrhitecture, detail of the frescos and decorative carvings. We could also see the continuing restorative work going on in one corner of the site.Merida is not proving to be a goodluck town. The Ruta Puuc bus was full this morning so I cut my stay short by a day and pack quick. Stuck the bag at left luggage in the bus station and hopped in a collectivo minibus to Dzibilchultan 15km north of town. These lowkey ruins are as good an overall experience as the more celebrated Uxmal or Chichen Itza. The musuem is 100 times better, and the cleared site of 1km by 1-300meters quite intimate, and empty :-) though the known extent of the city is 13 sq km. Even under a baking sun the walk along this E-W axis is very pleasant and well rewarded by a long bathe in the Cenote Xlacah along with most of the local village. Truly impressive is the Franciscan church built in the centre of the site, not for its size or architecture but sheer audacity, it is dwarfed by the surrounding monuments. Also in Merida and worth a mention were the murals in the local government offices, 25 years in the painting they really convey the emotions and passion of Mayan history, from the first sparks of civilisation to the 1910 revolution. Back to the bus station, and its next stop Campeche on the Gulf coast and the ruins of Ednza... "Island of Women". It was named after the clay figurines found in a stone temple - put that dirty mind back on track!  Walking round the island was recommended by my bro - thanks Bob.  Away from the main sq  "Mouth of the Well of Itza"  Like were-wolves, but not, if you know what I mean.  "Thrice built" though it was actually rebuilt 5 times.  Hard enough to spell, you try saying it!