Its a jungle out there!

Lost in the jungle.

St Elena does have its share of excitement once in awhile that throws people into a tizzy and some into panic mode. Just this past Sunday an incident happened that did just that. Staying with me for a week are two keen cyclists and archeological buffs who wanted to wander off the beaten path to see ruins that are not on the tourist route by bicycle .They had read the book by Joyce Kelly, An archaeological Guide to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It was first copywrited in 1993 and hasn’t really been updated since due to the passing of Ms Kelly. Of course the ruins still stand but getting to them can be a little bit difficult and it’s much better if you can hire a local person to show where they are and preferably that person will have a machete to hack the way through the jungle to be able to see the ruins. I did advise my lodgers on several occasions that some are totally impassable and impossible to find and to reach there on bikes was just not doable or feasible in some places. One such trip ,they wanted to find Sac Be ruins to which I gave them the directions as its not too far from here and I have actually been there myself. Not sure though if they thought that I was a woman living here for the past 5 years that I didn’t know anything about the area or the jungle. Nevertheless they were not in a hurry to hear my advice and off they went saying that Oh! They could find it!!!!! We have a map! They left around 9 am in the morning and by 12.30 pm returned only one! He seemed a bit strung out He interrupted me whilst I was taking lunch orders from clients that were in the restaurant, saying he couldn’t find his friend and that his friend had not returned to where they had left their bikes . He said he had waited at the bottom of a ruin for over one hour for his friend to return ,shouted and whistled but heard nothing back. He suggested that I go look for him in my car but as I was alone at the restaurant I couldn’t at that time. I said I had to wait until the staff came at 1 pm but not only that I had an important appointment in Uxmal to attend . He calmed down with a beer and went of f to his room. The staff arrived, I recounted the situation with them and said but I must go to Uxmal. I was only there but for 5 mins when Samuel called to say maybe we should get the police involved how long will you be Valerie he said. Leaving my meeting which was to do with my business I hurried back to the restaurant. I then drove with Dwayne to where I know is Sac Be but on the way there he said O h no this it not the road but I said yes it is the road to Sac Be….. We took another earlier turnoff . Swinging my car around we found the turnoff and Dwayne took of walking down the dirt road. Within what seemed like two minutes he returned saying that the road did not look familiar.I think you should try again and go further in , I said . To which he did and found his friends bike still in the same place. O K I said then lets get to the St Elena police as another hour it will be dark. I explained to the police what had happened and they gathered their force of 10 local police and headed off with Dwayne in tow. I had to head off back to the restaurant to make sure all was well there. When I arrived back Mathew and his family where eating (Mathew is the owner of X,colate in Merida and the soon to be open chocolate museum located on the ruta puuc)I was explaining the situation when he said Oh that’s strange because as we coming from Kabah we saw a man walking without a backpack only a camera and we thought it strange. He described what he was wearing and I said, that’s him! Eduardo! Within minutes he arrived at the restaurant shaken and happy as he told me he had been lost for 5 hours. Granted he was wearing a writs G P S but he said the signal kept going in and out.. O f course I said you were in the jungle you would have been better with a compass! Eduardo! I said. Get in the car we have to go and find the police who are out looking for you . On the way he explained what had happened. He encountered a ruin which he thought was Sac Be (turns out it wasn’t but then I became excited knowing that I will go and look for it one day). He climbed to the top of what appeared to be Maya houses and walked along dropping off at the end he clambered down the slope but when it was time to return he couldn’t figure out the way back.He blew his whistle to alert Dwayne but it wasn’t heard.He tromped through the jungle until he found a dead end path returned and found another path. He could hear traffic in the background and so walked towards the noise. Finally he came out to the main hiway and walked all the way back to St Elena. He was panicking and making videos on his camera leaving messages to his family back in Mexico City thinking he would be spending the night in the jungle. We arrived at the dirt road and hurriedly we both walked towards the area where he had left his bike both of us shouting and hollering to get the attention of the police. Finally they came out with Dwayne happy to see his friend. All of us chuckled at Eduardos experience but he was told by the police not to do it again!!! Well , I said as your punishment Eduardo you have to ride your bike back………. But he was just happy to be out of the jungle………. It could have been much worse. So for all you adventurous out there heed warnings… if you don’t know the jungle ,don’t come equipped ,don’t listen to advice then its no one else’s responsibility but your own!! OH and another thing that you should be aware of  what I heard just today is that all sights belong to the country and  INAH is the curator of all . The sites have custodians and if caught on these sites without permision you can be subject to a fine or evcn imprisonment!

Opps I had better be careful now that I know this maybe ruin hunting is not really the way to go!

About thepickledonionyucatan

Born in England emigrated to Canada and now reside in the Yucatan Mexico. LIfe is a journey so enjoy as much as you can
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3 Responses to Its a jungle out there!

  1. smoking tyger says:

    I read with interest your account of the two “ruin hunters” and their adventure in the jungle. You may be interested to know that “ruin hunting” is strongly discouraged by INAH for a number of reasons;
    A. Unexcavated, unrestored sites are fragile; just walking around these sites can damage them.
    B. Unexcavated, unrestored sites are potentially dangerous; walls can collapse, one can fall into a chaltune or pit, and snakes can be common.
    C. ALL Artifacts are the property of INAH, even if you find them on your own property. They are VERY SUSPICIOUS of people who want to wander out to a deserted, unexcavated ruin for an “adventure”.

    Many from the US or Europe have fond memories of hunting arrowheads or potshards as children and assume that it is OK to pick up a piece of pottery or an arrowhead here in Mexico. This is absolutely FALSE! It is illegal to take any artifact no matter how trivial from anywhere in Mexico. By law they are the property of the state of Mexico and considered part of the National Patrimony. You will be fined if you are caught with it and if they think you are taking something for sale on the blackmarket you will be jailed. This is true even if you find an artifact on your own property. It still belongs to INAH and by law you have to report your find to them and turn over the item. Even if you just put it on the mantle and have no intention of selling it you are still breaking the law and can be fined or jailed.

    • THank you so much for your imput All you said is correct and a good warning for all wanna be,e. Yes and if you are caught with ANY artifacts at the borders its an immediate go to jail..around here in St ELena its hard not to come across any kind of ruins or chards of any kind the land is littered with them. But again as you said its the property of the state and yes like in any country it should be left there.
      As for ruin enthusiats what can I say when after they read the Stephens and Catherwoods Incidents of travel in the Yucatan they get the adventurous bug and want to do the same thing .All that can be done is give them warning and if they dont heed like I said in my blog then its their responsibility.
      but again thank you and well said.

  2. Heather says:

    Always an adventure reading your adventures, Valerie. Was also very interested in reading the comments from smoking tyger and your response.

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