Day 6-Train Ride Champeche to Merida, Uxmal Archeological
Site, Mission Park Inn Hotel, Merida.
For me, this 6th day was a highlight...a second day on
the Expreso Maya train, from the seaport town of Campeche inland to Merida.
Up at 5 a.m. with our luggage down to the lobby, leave the hotel at 6,
without coffee, to the train. We were loaded and highballed at 6:30
a.m. I realized now, understanding what Jack had told me earlier,
that we were the only riders on the train, and it would not be leaving
without us. The train had been here for the day we had spent visiting
in and around Campeche...it had no other scheduled activities until we
returned to continue our journey.
Breakfast at 8, after coffee in the club car. I had easy
eggs with bacon (not crisp enough for me...I should have ordered it
crisp), and others were happy to get exactly what they ordered. Patricia
had frijoles, tortillas, and salsa.
Our Mayan site for today was Uxmal at noon. In the middle
of the scrub brush landscape through which we were passing at a very
slow, yet comfortable, rate our train came to a stop. There was
no siding, no town, actually, there was not an inhabitated building in sight...just
a lone tour bus awaiting us in the tall winter grass. We stepped
off the train, down a dirt path a few steps, and into the air conditioned
bus for a trip to Uxmal. It was cloudy, dry and cool.
I wore short sleeves, shorts, and my photo vest. On the journey,
we passed one orange grove and scrub brush that stretched to the horizon,
much like Arizona. Of course it is winter here so the occasional corn
fields were all after-harvest stubble. Along the route were yellow
flowers called, Tajonal, related to the black-eyed Susan, being visited
by bees making "Yucatan honey" which the guide said was very high quality.
Uxmal is 78 km southwest of the City of Merida, Yucatan. The
first Uxmal inhabitants were from 800 A.D., to 200 A.D. It was
an agricultural community in this arid area. This Mayan city
has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The main attractions
include the courtyard or quadrangle Las Monjas (nunnery) and The House
of Adivino (Magician) which looms above the entrance to this archaeological
site. The Juego de Pelota (ballcourt) is a playing field some 34
meters long by 10 meters wide. The Governor's Palace is a splendid
example of stone mosaic work with masks of the rain god Chaac sculpted the
length of one of the friezes. The House of Turtles is decorated with
small columns and sculptures of turtles in stone.
How their arches were constructed
and withstood years without a keystone.
Jack walks alone in the sacred city.
We were back to the train by 3 and went directly to the club
car for complimentary drinks. Promptly at 3:20, we entered the
dining car for our per-ordered lunch.
During the days on the train, waiters and porters double as
car attendants and are stationed, standing, at each door to open it
for you with a smile as you pass through the train. Service on
the Expreso Maya is all about 'relationship.' They know our names
and our choice of drinks. They match the mood of the guests, whether
serious or frivolous. Even the non-English speaking waiters know
One fellow traveler was distance-vision-challenged as she pointed
out electrical towers as waterfalls!
When we reached Merida, the owner of the train set greeted
us as we detrained. The entire train staff awaited us in a single
farewell line with handshakes and smiles all around. Sue Stilwell,
tour guide, related later that the owner was encouraged by the ridership
of his private luxury train. We said adieu to the best train I've
ever had the priviledge of riding, and we left wondering if we would ever
see this kind of service on a train again.
We stepped up into our bus and the luggage was handled by the
porters. At the Mission Park Inn Hotel, Merida, my room assignment
was 1019. Off the elevator on the tenth floor, I noticed no room
1019, but I saw stairs and I climbed them. Sure enough, there is
another set of rooms on the 11th floor, but the elevator stops on 10.
The room had seven foot ceilings and was well above the clatter
the lower rooms 'enjoyed.'.