The Site

temple temple temple temple

This is what our guide told us: A man named Benjamin Cruz wa the groundskeeper for the sight a few years back. He was responsible for keeping all the grass mowed and the bush cut back. It was a lot of work and so he came up with an idea to make it easier and more productive as well. He asked if it would be OK to grow vegetables in the plaza the way Mayans planted. That way, it would be one less place to mow, but he could get some good vegetables. Mayans planted corn in widespread rows with other crops in between. By diversifying planting areas, a bug might find a plant he likes, but the one next to it is yucky so he leaves. If the crop were all the same crop, he would stay and bring his friends along to eat the whole crop. Another technique is to plant the beans alongside the corn and to use the corn stalks as support for the bean stalks. To be able to grow diverse crops without pesticides to feed tens of thousands was important.

View from top of temple

So back to the story. He only has to dig a few inches for each seed to plant, but while doing this he comes across something hard in the ground. He thinks it is a stone but as he brushes he finds a float carved stone with two war prisoners on it (photo below under The Art). So he decides to protect the stone by building a canopy over the stone and he goes to tell the archaeologists what he finds. They fire him and take credit. Or so the story goes.

The Art

face carved on the temple a face on the ruins with original paint Female carved on a stone two prisoners of war

Caracol had some nice examples of art on their temples and on monoliths and stones. Some of the temple art has been replaced with a reproduction and the original is covered up for preservation. The images directly above are all of actual items, not reproductions. You can click on these three images to see larger photos. The second photo is on one of the temples and maintains some original paint. The third photo shows a female ruler.

Closeup of carved images

Getting There

Oh boy. On the bright side, the ride out there is much better now, or so we were told. Actually, if you are used to driving on those Mojave roads that are on the map (unlike this one), but wind up being dirt path with huge rocks and potholes, then this is familiar ground. Also, like Death Valley, if you have any car problems or blow a tire, you are on your own. Maybe for a few days. Cell phones don't work out there either.

Pine trees were eaten by a plague of beetles The road to Caracol A bridge

Now we know why the country only rents 4 wheel drive vehicles. The road looks a lot nicer in the photos above then they are in real life. With Fair Warning from the owner of the Mayan Mountain House, we packed plenty of water and decided to give it a go.

Off the Western Highway past the Mayan Mountain Lodge, you keep going though a few villages. Eventually you come to a T intersection near the 5 Sister's Ranch - or at least a sign for the Five Sister's Ranch. You continue forever until you come to a T intersection and have to make a decision. I think there was a yellow house kind of across from the intersection. Turn right. Now just stay on the road and it eventually goes into the park.

Basically go to the first T and turn right, then left at the second T. The trip should take a few hours. You are going to get so lost if you follow our directions. One might opt to visit Caracol on an arranged trip with their hotel or a service in town where a local driver/mechanic/guide will get you there and back.