Oxtankah Ruins: The Journey Part 2

My beautiful proof lies all in ruins.
— Georg Cantor

The Mayan people are proud of their heritage and culture. They are still living and thriving in areas throughout Central America. They also still hold many ceremonies at the ruins of their ancestors to show respect. Oxtankah is one of those places where the local Mayan people still respect their heritage.

My visit to Oxtankah started off with a walk through Calderitas when I saw a sign that said Oxtankah with a Mayan pyramid symbol next to it and a number 7. I walked back to my hostel immediately afterward to find out what it was all about. So, I consulted the local expert, Google. I found out that Oxtankah ruins were located 7.3 kilometers from Calderitas (for all my American friends this is about 4.6 miles). 

Since it was still early in the afternoon I decided 4.6 miles was a manageable walk and would probably take me about an hour. I grabbed my camera backpack, some water, and headed off towards Oxtankah. The sun was shining with the temperature around 82 degrees. The walk was hot but nice.

I walked through Calderitas and within a few minutes, I reached the edge of town. The road was winding and there were houses scattered on both sides of the road.  After walking several miles, I came to a sign that said "Oxtankah 7" and I thought maybe this was an error or that the 7 meant something other than kilometers. 

Let me cover somethings about Mexico and most of Central America to this point. If they say something is at 7:00 that could be 8 or 9 or maybe even 11. If the kilometers on the sign say 7 that could mean 7 or it could mean 8 or 9 or maybe even 11. Nothing seems to be exact and nobody appears to care either. Take all numbers in these areas as a general idea and not specific.

After several more miles, I walked next to a yard that had a couple of dogs in the yard.  The dogs came to the fence and barked at me. As I approached the gate I realized that it was open, and these dogs were not just barking territorially at me. One of them looked like he wanted to chew my leg off. I had a dilemma about how to approach the open gate. I just lowered my head ignoring the dogs as I passed the gate and to my surprise, they stayed inside the gate...for a minute anyway. When I got about 50 feet beyond the gate one of the dogs bolted out and came after me. This dog and I had a battle of wills over the next 1/4 mile. I eventually had enough of this dog come at me and decided the best plan of action was to return the favor.

I slipped my backpack off. I grabbed the strap with one hand and turned towards the dog swinging the backpack, yelling, and aggressively advancing towards him. He barked a few times until he realized I wasn't bluffing. He finally figured out he was not going to be a match for me and the backpack and ran back to his yard.

I walked another mile or so and came across another road sign that said "Oxtankah 7" and was thoroughly confused by now. I am guessing that some guy didn't really care how far it was or didn't know how far it was, so he ordered multiple signs that said 7 km on each? Maybe there was a mix up at the sign shop and they made them all 7 km? 

By this time, I was hot, tired, and frustrated. I considered turning around but I came across a small sign on the side of the road that said that the Oxtankah Ruinas was 1 km ahead.  I walked about 1,000 feet to find the entrance to the park. The trip was more than 7 km. It was more like 12 km. It took me almost 2 hours to walk to the park.  

My suggestion if you decided to come to Oxtankah Ruins you need to secure a ride to and from the park. There are no taxis at the park so don't take a taxi to the park or you will be walking back unless you do what I did (more about this later).

When I arrived at the gate I was the only one at the park. I paid the 55 MXP (Mexican Pesos) to enter. I was given a ticket and told which way to go. I followed the path which weaved around through a small jungle area that was completely different from anything I had seen to this point in Mexico. Apparently, the word "ox" in Mayan means Ramon trees which are the trees located within the park.

Oxtankah was a city that was around during 200 - 600 AD and was discovered in 1913. Although being discovered over 100 years ago, the ruins were not excavated until the 1990s. The ruins contain three major areas; the Plaza de las Abejas, Plaza de las Columnas, and then the Spanish Mission section.

The first structure you come to is the Plaza de las Abejas. It is the largest plaza in the entire city and includes the largest pyramid at the site.  There are two tombs at the pyramid as well. The structures throughout the park are great as you can see from the photos below:


I was able to walk through this amazing place for several hours and never saw another person until I was walking out of the park. This is exactly how someone should experience a site such as this. If you stand quietly in the middle of and of the plazas you can feel the power of such a place.

The Plaza de las Columnas was impressive as well with multiple structures but my favorite structure was the Spanish Mission. The giant stone arch is amazing, and the construction hasn't held up as well as the Mayan structures, but it is still impressive.

I think this was a great starting point for my Mayan cultural experience. I was allowed the freedom to wander, explore, and feel this site which helped me gain a better sense of what it took to build such a place using the tools in such a heavily dense area.

I recommend you visit Oxtankah if you are ever in this part of Mexico. If you are in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum just make the drive down or take a bus a down. Spend a wonderful night in Calderitas and enjoy this magnificent little town.

This was really the last thing I did in Calderitas. I went back to my hostel (which will be in a whole separate blog post later) and did some laundry. I packed up later in the night and got ready to head out the next morning to Belize City, Belize. 

Until my next post, get out and travel friends!