Posted by: Waheeda Harris | October 10, 2014

The circus after the history – visiting Tulum

I’m all for visiting ancient sites – no matter how many people – I think its important to see history in a 3D form. So off I went with many other tourists to visit the Mayan site of Tulum.

Mexico - Tulum entrance


Each one of us walked through this stone opening to the open field where the heart of the Mayan city still sits:

Mexico - Tulum site

And despite the endless people, I managed to find an angle to show the crumbling stones. Our guide told us that in the past, people had climbed all over the stone buildings and temple, curious to understand the Mayan culture. Now we look from afar, yet I’m sure we’re all wishing we could stand within the walls.

Mexico - Tulum temple

The main temple is still fairly intact, with several surroundings buildings in different states. Considering it was one of the last major Mayan cities, dating from the 13th century, and then abandoned by the end of the 15th century, Tulum’s presence is quiet. There aren’t any artifacts and no access to the interior, but its still commands attention with its stones, placed by human hands to create a home for approximately 1500 residents.

Also known as Zama (city of Dawn) because the site faces east, it sits on cliffs overseeing the ocean, which is a secondary popular option for tourists – going for a swim:

Mexico - Tulum beach

So after the reality and the history, the sad part – was the circus. I have no problem with the endless attempts at selling souvenirs to tourists who flock here in the hundreds every day. But what I didn’t like was the numerous people holding wild animals for us visitors to pet and then to pay to take a photograph.

Many held iguanas, a common reptile of the Yucatan, but there even a few that had lion cubs. Lions are not indigenous to Mexico and how they came to be outside an ancient Mayan site in southern Mexico, I can’t even contemplate. But please, dear traveller, ignore these people. Don’t photograph, don’t engage. And insure that part of the Tulum experience disappears and the illegal trade in wild animals doesn’t have this outlet.

Come for the history or even for a swim – but the circus of wild animals – please ignore.



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