Ek Balam
March 28th, 2010 by robert

Thoroughly enjoying Valladolid my first evening there, with live music as part of a Oaxaca festival filling the small square in front of the hostel, I decided to stay a second night.

Música Valladolid

That allowed me to return to Ek Balam rested, early in the morning. I had been told that the gate would open at 7 AM, perfect for beginning a birding stroll through ancient ruins. I woke early, grabbed essential coffee gear along with my binoculars, and drove out to the ruin entry gate.

The early morning bird chorus was in full swing in the dawn light, and I had time to unpack the lightweight twig stove and boil water well before the gate opened. Coffee made, I scanned the scrub around me as birds flitted every direction. A blue-crowned motmot sat next to a turquoise-browed motmot to allow for extended comparison viewing. As it approached 7 o’clock, a car approached and I expected it was the gatekeeper, but when a wizened man stumbled out of the passenger door and came over to me, it was apparent I was wrong. “Not until eight,” he said laughing and rocking unsteadily. With alcohol-tinged breath, he asked me for money.

Eventually the car left me in peace, and I continued to bird along the road edge  for the next hour until the gate opened. When the park car finally arrived, I followed it to the ruins. A dozen insistent urchins came up to me asking to wash or watch the car while I walked the ruins, so I put one boy in charge of vigilance, but told him he would have to share the earnings. As I went to pay the entry fee, the park “ranger” said, “Oh, you waited so long! Just go on in, no need to pay.”  I decided the saved fee would be the money to be shared among the boys cuidando the car, a good payday for them.

I spent a couple of hours birding the perimeter road around the base of the ruins, and a couple of trails that went through the scrub forest. When the heat began to slow bird activity I climbed into the ruins and explored the well preserved structures.

Ruinas Ek Balam

I climbed to the top of the tallest structure, alone apart from a family with five small girls, and enjoyed the view and the sound of parrots passing by in the distance.

Ek Balam


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