When I first wrote this review upon a return trip from Cancun, Mexico this past October I was laughing out loud remembering the wisecracking caretaker Jesus, my local amigo Javier, and me jousting around my broken Spanish and their broken English talking about how to get more visitors to this beautiful Maya ruins site located at Punta Sam.
Jesus wanted to know how some Gringo, me, calling himself Dangers (I told him my real name but I’d be writing under the Danger’s byline, he was more interested in “Dangers”, in Mexico, everyone has a nickname) was going to attract people to El Meco through some obscure writing foray in the States. While we were joking about Jesus started doing his El Boxeo impression mimicking Muhammad Ali in his classic Ali shuffle while Javier feigned the Sanford shuffle made famous by Redd Foxx in the TV sitcom “Sanford and Son” with me in hysterics downing a not so cold cerveza at the laughter at my expense.
Such is Mexico, and if a Gringo in El Meco can share a few laughs with the locals while getting the down low, it’s all good by me.
In any case, I told Jesus, I’d try and make him famous, so here goes as originally written for here and elsewhere by yours truly;
Dedicated to my amigo’s Javier and Jesus.
Hidden off the beaten path of Cancun and the mainland area of the Isla Mujeres District on the road to Puerto Juarez and Punta Sam, and further North to Isla Blanca, is the Cancun regions version of the ancient Maya port city of Tulum. In this case it is the port city of “El Meco“, a once hidden city, no more, after completion of the archaeological diggings and restoration of the buildings located there over the last 10 or so years.
The Maya City of El Meco is believed to be named after the infirmity of a local coconut plantation owner of a former era who displayed a significant limp in his gait and upon whom the locals bestowed the Maya Ruin site the name. So, there’s no Maya significance or tradition to the modern name of El Meco to the ancient Maya, much like other Maya sites, that have long lost their names and have incorporated more familiar namesakes from after the Pre-Hispanic Period.
The city is however believed to have been a major commercial port for the Maya and overlooks the beach and docks from across the road at Punta Sam where nearby claims indicate that there’s the last vestiges of the ancient port hidden along the beach line. The city’s importance to the Maya is thought to have occurred from its proximity across the coast from Isla Mujeres, its location along the coastal trading routes and the area of calm but deeper water for vessels.
At the center of the site is the large El Castillo Pyramid surrounded by a dozen or so smaller structures believed to be used for governmental, religious and commercial trading purposes by the Post Classical period Maya starting in the 10th or 11th century AD. The site previous to this was believed to be home to a small native village going back to the 6th century AD.
Speculation based on artifact finds and architecture places El Meco at the heart of one of the Chichen Itza periods and further speculates that the city was amongst the then extended realms of the rulers of Chichen Itza.
Once on site at El Meco, most folks will marvel at the plush grounds,the minimal amount of insects and the array of foliage including trees that have grown through and over a few of the ruins. Thus far, El Meco is one of the quiet hideaways of Maya Ruins sites in the region, far more likely to be visited by local school children than by tourists, and a quiet, relaxing spot where one can actually enjoy and study the ruins far from the maddening crowds. A few couples were even picnicking under the large trees on the sites green lawns while enjoying the sea breezes.
(Courtesy of M.Auro/G.Barea: Foto Propia)
The working guide and caretaker on site is “Jesus” whom is extremely knowledgeable as to the site and its history. The cost of admission as of the date of the visit was 35 Pesos and well worth the fee. El Meco while not as large or popularly prestigious as many of the other competing Maya sites still resonates the history of the ancient people whom once occupied the city and gives the visitor a sense of the beauty and position the city once occupied in its location perched over the Yucatan Coast.
Visitors from Cancun can reach El Meco via bus, taxi or rental car on the road to Punta Sam past Puerto Juarez while visitors staying at the resort(s) in the newly developed Playa Mujeres region will want to travel south to the site.
For something different, something new, visitors may want to combine this trip with a visit to Isla Blanca further North and the pristine beaches and calm waters of Isla Blanca which are arguably some of the best stretch of beach and surf areas in the Yucatan though some of the locals may want this writer’s head for mentioning such.
Location: KM 2.7, On the Puerto Juarez - Punta Sam Road, in the mainland area of the District of Isla Mujeres, North of the City of Cancun.
Admission: 35 Pesos (about $3.00 U.S.)