40 km (24miles) north west from Chetumal (capital of Quintana
Roo), or about 100km (60miles) from Felipe Carrillo Puerto, at
the south of Sian Ka'an Biosphere, the main road leads to Bacalar
lagoon, a huge clear freshwater lake. Its beauty is due to the
different shades of blue. This lake, justifiably called "lagoon
of the seven colors”, is 50km (30miles) long and 2km (1.2mile)
33km (20miles) from Chetumal, a detour leads to the sublime blue
Cenote Azul, close to Bacalar. You can enjoy swimming in this
90m (295 feet) deep !
This is one of the most impressive cenotes after the one at Chichén
You can also look at the Milagros lagoon, close to Bacalar.
picture : laguna of Bacalar
A beautiful 4 minute video of the village
and lagoon of Bacalar.
This city has no interest except being the gate to Belize and
Guatemala. With 200,000 inhabitants, Chetumal looks like it is:
the most important eastern point and the furthest from Mexico
City. Since Quintana Roo is rich in precious tropical essences,
mahogany, “zapote”, etc. Wood is both the object of
the local industry and the main construction material. The wooden
buildings predominate in town ; most of them were built after
the 1955 hurricane but the dilapidated aspect reminds you that
the wood business is not the main activity of the city. Chetumal
was a tax free seaport, well located between Puerto Juárez
and the main entrance in Belize, on the opposite side of the river
Río Hondo but the city lost its statute of duty-free zone,
since1994, in favor of Belize.
If you have some time, go to the Museum of Mayan Culture at the
corner of Avenue Héroes and street Mahatma Gandhi. Many
models of cities and Mayan buildings are on display. (Open 9AM-7PM,
Tue-Thu and Sunday and 9AM-8PM, Friday and Saturday, MXN$50).
It is really a nice museum.
Map of the city :
Map of the state :
Banco Chinchorro biosphere reserve
The reserve is located in the Caribbean Sea, 31km (19miles) east
of the coastal city Mahahual, the closest continental point. Mahahual
is located northeast of Chetumal. The reserve is separated from
the coast by a 100m (328 feet) deep canal. It extends over a surface
of 144 360 ha (356,721 acre), with only 0.4% above water. It is
part of the Meso-American reef system. Located out at sea, it emerges
like a reef lagoon which, because of its low shallow and the coral
reef, provokes swell movements and processes of sedimentation. The
reef protects the coast from the tropical storms and cyclones. The
ecosystems, linked to fish breeding and reproduction and propagation
of economical and ecological value species, are made of coral reefs,
sea grass, sandbanks, rocky islets, lowlands covered with shrubs
and sandy beaches. The research made in the reserve allows to list
778 species: 58% belong to marine fauna, 14% to terrestrial fauna,
18% to marine flora and 10% to terrestrial flora. The marine fauna
comprises 95 coral species. Due to the coral topography, a large
diversity of habitats co-exists. Fishing is the most important economical
activity but it is under very strict regulations. You can find conch
(strombus gigas) and lobster (panulirus argus). This reserve is
also a big boat cemetery. There are 44 wrecks, among them 33 «
sunk » between the sixteenth and twentieth century, are listed
on a map based on bibliographic sources.
Left picture : Bacalar fort
Kohunlich and Dzibanché Archaeological sites
Kohunlich is an ancient Mayan village and ceremonial center situated south of Quintana Roo, just 70km west of Chetumal. Here masks have been discovered that are thought to represent Kinich Ahau or Ah Kinchil. In the beginning, they decorated the facade of the temple called the Sun Temple or the Pyramid of Masks which was built on a mound.
The figures of almost 3 metres in height and painted in red show the Sun God, the face wrapped in bandages and bearing a sophisticated headdress. The faces also have nose rings and support the symbol ik (‘wind’), which was frequently associated with solar representations. In total, there are 8 masks around the temple in honor of Kin, five of which can still be seen today. On the site, there are many demarcated areas by the temples, places and platforms which are all equipped with an ingenious system for capturing and transporting water via inclines and various basins. Amongst all of the monuments, emerges an Acropolis, a Ball Court and the Plaza of the Estelas.
Left picture : Kohunlich map
To the east of the Acropolis, there is an architectural building comprised of seven structures that would have been used for housing in the past. To this day, you can see 20 structures brought together which would probably have been occupied by a group of 250 to 500 people. The site, which reached its peak between 600 and 900 A.D., is only just beginning to reveal its past splendor. It is estimated that there are a total of 500 mounds waiting to be discovered.
The Sun was one of the main divinities to be worshipped. It was the God who gave maize the strength to grow and simultaneously that which could destroy it with its rays.
The motifs which decorate the eyes of the Sun God represent the winik glyph, which means ‘twenty’, thus a reference to the months of 20 days and also a reference to mankind (the total number of fingers and toes is 20).
Right picture : Sun God mask
Underneath the nose, two jade beads are used as nariguera (nasal decoration). On the sides of the mouth, the moustache of God is shown.
Although it is not very well known, this area has the special feature of being large in size. Its boom occured during the Classical Period. This area is comprised of a ceremonial center formed of places surrouded by pyramid substructures.
Let picture : Dzibanché map and picture below : funeral homes on site
Entrance fees : $55 for Kohunlich and $46 for Dzibanché