Although it took us almost ten hours to get to Cancun from Tenosique, our time there ended up being less than a day and a half. Soon after we had gotten accustomed to the beautiful beach and American-friendly food, we packed our bags and left after breakfast on Wednesday morning.
The destination of this leg of our trip wasn’t made very clear (probably because no one spoke English), so Casey and I decided to just sit back and take things as they came. This was something that took some getting used to, but I think this relinquishing of control and the need to know has been one of the most important lessons for me as a friar. We made a stop at Chichén Itzá, which is one of the major archeological sites in Mexico. This ancient site, which dates back to approximately 600 CE, was one of the largest cities and centers of power in the Mayan civilization. The massive structures and diverse architectural styles attest to the power and wealth of its inhabitants. It is also one of the most visited sites in Mexico, which explains the hundreds and hundreds of tourists taking photos and shading themselves with brightly colored umbrellas.
After a couple of hours exploring Chichén Itzá, we continued on our way to Izamal, another small city in Yucatán. Like Chichén Itzá, Izamal is an important archeological site and has several Mayan ruins scattered throughout the city. We were able to climb up one of the pyramids and enjoy breathtaking vistas overlooking the yellow-hued city. At the heart of Izamal is San Antonio di Padua, a Franciscan convent that dates back to 1561. The massive structure was built on top of the ruins of one of the pyramids and is painted in the same bright yellow hue as the rest of the city. It was amazing to explore a structure older than the United States itself.
After a few hours in Izamal, we left and continued on our way to Mérida, the capital of Yucatán. I greatly enjoyed Mérida, which had a special flare reminiscent of European cities. We visited a nice little book store that specialized in cultural and political books, and dined at an excellent restaurant that was owned by one of Fray Tomas’ friends.
It was a great night in Mérida, but as with the rest of our trip, we left as quickly as we arrived. I certainly could have used a few more days in each of the places we stopped by, or even a week or two in Cancun and Mérida. Like the rest of my summer here in Mexico, this trip was a lesson in economy, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time, control, and humility.
However, I can look back on these photos with nothing but fond memories and gratitude… and some hope that I may get to visit these locales with a little bit more time, and perhaps a little bit more Spanish.