Even more scenes from Caribbean Mexico
I am dropped off at Muyil Pueblo in a storm of butterflies. They are black and float around me in such quantity that I mistake them for garbage kicked up by the departing bus. They are headed for the sea, and the road is pasted with the less fortunate. Mainstreet is the regional highway, cut through the jungle. It is lined with only eight or ten buildings.
To my right is a tiny shop with a thatched palm roof and peeling plastered walls. It is run in front of someone’s home. Further down is a shut restaurant, and even further are more rundown shops that sell non-perishable food. Stores on either side of the road advertise CERVEZA FRIA A LLEGAR (cold beer to go) on hand-painted signs and sandwich boards. Nothing is visible through the open doorways into their dark interiors.
I buy canned beans and water from one, and find the ruin site. I learn it will close at 5PM. It is early, and on the advice of its sole employee I decide to walk to the local lagoon. The water’s edge is half a mile down a dirt road.
The lagoon is bigger than expected; I see only treetops at the other side. A pontoon dock hemmed by wetland grass extends from the bank near a watchtower and stilt house. The butterflies are here too, and carpet a puddle, drinking. I send them up in a cloud when I get too close. A guide with gleaming wraparounds offers me a $300 tour that includes jumping into Mayan-built canals, but this seems comparable to sledding down their pyramids. I decline.
This is the Sian-Kiian biosphere reserve. The beach is surrounded by flooded jungle and a boardwalk pointing north leads me through it. From the platform of another watchtower in the forest I can see the entire lagoon. It is blue and brilliant and round, rimmed by miles of uninterrupted Yucatan jungle that shine glossy green in the sun. In the pale sky, cumulus clouds rise over the sea.
There are natural pools further on. Fish hang motionless inside, spooking at the vibration of my footfalls in the support posts. Leaves float on the surface and logs fuzzy with algae lie underneath, luminescent in the shafted sunlight. I am stopped by a man in sandals, jeans and a t-shirt, who informs me that entry to the reserve is 50 pesos. I pay him and find the boardwalk terminate nearby, at a hut with a hammock inside. This must be where the casualwear park ranger sits.
The watchtower is empty when I climb it again. Warm wind blows to the lagoon, rustling in the forest below, and a hawk glides distantly above the trees. It is still bright and hot, and I sit first, then sprawl out. I lay a while with my hands under my head, idly inspecting the ceiling thatching. The sky is enormous here, and in my vision at any angle. I could stay here all day, but there isn’t enough time. I’ve got to get to the ruins.