Rio Bec: My first real Mayan Ruins

All day we've been searching for the signal that will tell us where our Mayan Condor (King Vulture) is, enjoying the breathtaking landscapes, lush vegetation, and the epicness that comes from an ancient civilization hiding beneath the roots.

Absolutely nothing, however, could have prepared me for our next stop. I've managed to miss all the touristy ruins from Cancun to here, so I'd never seen an excavated, "real" Mayan ruin. Or climbed on top of one for that matter. The site has been dubbed "Rio Bec A" by archaeologists. The generic name does no justice, but its true name is unknown and probably will remain so forever.

Again we got no signal but by this point I had regressed from Eco-VolunTourist to VolunTourist to just Tourist. I was entranced. Ezequiel had helped excavate the site, which was formerly just a tree covered mound like any other, and told us a bit about the dig as we ate lunch.

We headed to the other major site, Rio Bec B, which is larger than Rio Bec and was discovered earlier, but somehow still managed to get "B" as its designation. It consists of two sites, one with two towers that looked suspiciously like a Christian Church, another smaller, less preserved site that was a mound the last time Mauro was in town.

Ezequiel told me about the false steps adornign the front face of both towers (you can kind of see them on the right one). "No one can climb steps that steep," he said reverently, motioning to the almost vertical pattern of steps coming off the wall.

As the Sun came out, Ezequiel spotted a little raptor nesting atop one of the towers (can you find it?). Pointing to the pixelated plus sign carvings below the bird, he explained their significance.

"Each of the indentations was a different color, representing a different direction. East was red, West was black, North was White, and South was Yellow. East was the direction of the rising sun, while West was where night and death began, the direction of the Underworld. The center was painted green to represent life. For the Mayans, the most important number was not four but five, the four directions and the center."

Mauro had read a little bit about the significance of his study animal in ancient Mayan mythology. The King Vulture was the bird of death, while the Wild Turkey was the bird of life.
"They've found depictions of the two birds fighting, their necks turning around each other."


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