Wednesday, September 30, 2015
We arrived by bus. The heat and humidity immediately oppressed us. After visiting the expansive, air-conditioned gift shop, where we had a short break, we boarded a trailer to the Tulum ruins, which we entered through a doorway within the wall that surrounds them. First the bumpy trailer ride, then the narrow doorway, gave me the feeling of entering a place apart. As sweat formed on my forehead and ran down my face, I followed the guide from crumbling structure to crumbling structure along winding dirt paths lining cliffs. Our guide talked of frescoes, carvings, gods, and goddesses, of rituals and riches, of an observatory to track the movement of the stars and a window meticulously built to frame the sun at equinox. Nostalgia can trick us into thinking the past was somehow more special than the present, and it wasn't. The past was just different. But that difference hangs around the stone structures like an aura. It reaches out and brushes against you as you navigate the ruins, as real as the stone, as visceral as the heat.