Episode 2; Scene 2

The Road to Uxmal: Sotuta to Mani

On leaving the town of Sotuta, by the same road on which you arrived, and continuing south be sure to follow the right fork in the road just outside of town. Look for signs directing you to the town of Mayapan, this is a modern town and not the ancient ruin of the same name. The distance is only 35 or 40 miles but the roads are small and crooked with several little villages along the way which have "Topes" or speed bumps in the road, usually at the entrance and exits to these villages. This area is also very politically active with the two main Mexican political parties, the PRI (the dominate power) and the PAN (a more Populist party favored by the Indians), vying for control. Many of the buildings along the way are covered with their respective logos and slogans. This region could, I believe, become unstable like the state of Chiapas to the south; so ask about the local conditions before taking this route and drive slowly through the villages as there are many people walking and biking on the roads.

The town of Mani is, like most Mexican towns, dominated by a cathedral which is situated on a large plaza in the center of town. This cathedral was constructed in seven months on the site of a Maya temple and with the virtual slave labor of 20,000 natives under the direction of the infamous Friar Diego de Landa. Diego de Landa arrived in the Yucatan in 1549 as a Franciscan friar and quickly rose in the ranks to become Provincial in 1561. This man was a fanatic capable of tremendous cruelty, including torture (used to gain confessions of blasphemy), toward the natives. His reign of terror climaxed in July of 1562 here in Mani where, using a judicial proceeding of the Inquisition called an "Auto de fe", as he says:

" We found a large number of books of these characters and, as they contained nothing in which there were not to be seen superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all which they regretted to an amazing degree and which caused them much affliction." These books were the Maya codices containing everything from astronomical knowledge to family histories. He also claims to have destroyed 5,000 idols, what a horrible loss to the world in knowledge and art. Provincial de Landa was even a little to much for his own time and was recalled to Spain to face charges of "exceeding" his authority and in his own defense wrote Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan , Account of the Things of Yucatan, from which much of our understanding of the Maya calendar and language was derived (although with some inaccuracies).

From here it's only another 30 miles or so to Uxmal. First you head for the large town of Ticul, where there are cheap accommodations, gasoline and very few road signs. Highway 184 goes through Ticul and you can take this road north to Muna and then Hwy 261 south to Uxmal or do what I did, after getting badly turned around, follow any of the large ubiquitous tour buses which are probably headed for Uxmal as well. The terrain gets very hilly here as you enter the Puuc Hills country for which the Maya style of architecture in this region is known. I recommend getting a good map, International Travel Maps publishes a good one on the Yucatan Peninsula get the fourth and most recent edition.

Political Grafitti (60k).

Visit the CWJ Bijou (QT 625k).

Next time The Ruins of Uxmal

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