Lol Ka—A Hidden Treasure (May 2011)

by Barb Eller

Last week we made a new friend, David Villagomez, who has a tour business in Mahahual, The Native Choice. David was born in Chacchoben and his associate, Ivan Cohuo, was born at the ruins of Chacchoben. They both began leading tours of the ruins at very early ages. A mutual friend introduced us and told us about a Maya site, Lol Ka, that David had shown him. At Lol Ka there is a church that was built on top of a Maya ruin in the late 1700s, and the paintings above the altar are the last-known paintings done by a Maya. We asked David if we could join his group the next time he went there. Imagine our surprise when he told us he would be able to take us in a couple of weeks.

We were up at 6 a.m. because the site we were heading for was a few hours away from David's home in Chacchoben. From there, we drove to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, a town with a lot of Maya history. If you are into history read about the Caste War and the important part this town played during that time. In F. Carrillo Puerto we stopped to get some empanadas and water for our trip. The market we stopped at was in the middle of town. It was probably the size of a city block, filled with different shops with clothes, food, meats, restaurants, fresh fruits and vegetables, and so much more. In the center, what we would call a food court, you could sit and people-watch at tables with large bowls of salsa to eat.

We drove through jungle and small towns until we reached the edge of the town of Tihosuco. Then the ride got really interesting: we turned off onto a dirt/sand/stone road that went deeper into the jungle for eight kilometers. David said the road was over 500 years old and I believed him. It went up and down like a roller coaster and was just wide enough for our car. At the end of the eight kilometers, we came to a fork in the road and turned right. Then the road got narrower. Well, actually it was two paths that the car tires followed as the road continued up and down and then it twisted to the left and right, as we reached the top of the small hills. Are you picturing this? A sunny day, a beautiful jungle full of life, a new adventure and lots of fun.

We parked the car and walked a path into the ruin.

We stopped at a small altar, a large rock with a cross on top. Whoever enters places a small stone on the altar for safe passage. This area is not visited by the local people except for a special celebration they have once a year. We followed David past old stone walls and wells that were used thousands of years ago.

As we climbed a small hill that was still a covered Maya temple, we saw the Santa Miguel church that was built on top; what an amazing sight to see. The roof no longer exists but the four walls still remain, leaving the last Maya paintings still exposed to the elements above the altar. I slowly walked towards the front, and felt the peace that one feels when they enter a cathedral. It's so difficult to express my thoughts as I looked at these colorful paintings that were done hundreds of years ago. I hope the photos give you an idea of their beauty.

We walked down to the cenote that was many meters deep. Cenotes had different uses at that time; this one was a sacred cenote and its water was used for ceremonies. After hearing some stories about Aluxes (fairies that live there and play tricks on people) we headed back to the car, and back down the "Maya Highway" into Tihosuco. In the center of town is a large church, Santa Niño. During the Caste War a Spanish family took refuge in the church and the Indians set off dynamite, destroying the front of the church. As a reminder and a monument, the church was not repaired and is still in use today.

Nearby we visited the Museo de la Guerra de Castas. It is a museum with paintings depicting the conquering of the Maya by the Spanish and other artifacts.

So ended our day. There are many ruins and cenotes in the area and I will be telling you about others in future newsletters.

Till then ...
Happy Bubbles