After days of heavy rain, the kind of rain that soothes cities, that changes events and even long-awaited extreme excursions to the hills of Belize are cancelled, I hear a voice from Leona Vicario. A voice that tells of a lost city. This news shake people up, goes to our soul and awakes the explorer in us. Bags are packed, mountain bikes checked and we are ready to explore new roads.
According to our information there is a path through the jungle of Quintana Roo, which leads to a mysterious place with a legend. A legend which to most people may sound like too much adventure. Like an Indiana Jones movie where an Inca temple filled with treasure is discovered, but guarded by ancient spirits ….. Such treasures we will probably not find on this trip, at least not a treasure of precious metals… and ancient spirits… we will have to wait and see about that. But there is a lost city. Guarded by a dense forest of old trees, orchids with thorns, bees and mosquitoes ….
But once we stood on that undiscovered place, that all did not matter anymore. Surrounded by the ghosts of the original inhabitants and various temples. More than eight impressive size recognizable forms. And there we stood, possibly at the foot of the ceremonial centre. We climb up one of the hills with something that looks like a staircase but destroyed by the strong roots of large trees, wise and old. Standing on the top you can determine that this mystical place once was an open square dominated by pyramidal mountains. Our imagination runs off …. We quickly go down again and let the old ghosts rest and continue walking around the perimeter of the old building ….. But this is not the beginning of the story …
In Leona Vicario Joel is waiting for us. He told us the story of the lost city and put our imagination in motion. The caravan of cars with bikes on top takes off over a dirt road through the Ruta de Cenotes. And there in the middle of no-where we arrive at a restaurant, country style with thatched roof and wooden floors, a large garden with bright green grass and rustic toilets. Ideal to leave our cars and continue on our mountain bikes and when we return, have something to eat and drink. At least that’s what we imagine as we cycle through the large wooden gate ….
Mechanical failures and accidents mark the rhythm. But as a bunch of Mc Gyvers we get creative and solve everything .
We disappear into the jungle and as we proceed, we are challenged by the heat and humidity, higher than ever. Maybe there is a price to pay to get to the promised “lost city”.
It’s just a few hours ago that this area was under water. An intense smell of forest, wet earth mixed with sweat fills our lungs.
We keep on cycling without knowing what awaits us. Little by little the jungle gets wilder, thicker vegetation, the trees larger and older. Large ants, long lianas, vines and orchids cross our path. Nature at its best. There is no doubt about the other laws that apply here and who is in charge.
We arrive at a farm, hardly more than a wooden hut with a thatched roof. We are welcomed with chili, papaya, corn, bananas, all-natural and free of pesticides and chemicals. The sweetest papayas and bananas we have ever tasted.
On arriving, everybody gets a bucket of cold water from the well over them and freshly picked fruit, this way everyone is resuscitated for things to come. The effort was enormous for many. The path was not easy but we are here to see the lost city, and so we continue with our backpacks full of bananas and papayas.
We leave our bikes and go further by foot. A narrow path surrounded by trees, bushes and their shadows. Trees spread their roots among the rocks and cast their shadow on the path. A high hill on one side of about 25m looks at another hill opposite, we have reached the ruins. We climb up one of the hills via something that seems like a staircase of about 20 or 30 steps. It is hard to see. The vegetation is very dense and the light can’t get through. But you feel the power and importance of this place. A mystical place full of history, but lost in time. It has the same characteristics as Coba (100 or 250bc) which is relatively close by. We continue our way to another building with a huge tree in front. It seems like he is protecting the entrance of a temple. Between thorns and plants we climb to the top. From below, this building is like a pyramid. But on top there is a kind of central courtyard of about 40 by 60 meters with smaller buildings and monuments around it. In the middle of the jungle we stand in the middle of an ancient Maya city. We go down again with admiration and respect. We can spend more time here but it is time to leave. We thank the farmers that received us so kindly and gave us access to this beautiful place.
We continue on our mountain bikes over a path with an ever increasing difficulty. With the grass in the middle of the bike you can’t see where you going and we can only hope for the best. The heat and humidity are persisting, the water is running out and we start to feel hungry. We still have quite a way to go and we continue pedaling and sweating while the landscape and the smell of nature fills our senses. With great effort we cycle out of the jungle and eventually reach a wider dirt road which leads us to a water pump. We open the pump and with immense pressure the cool water bursts out. An oasis for the body and welcome distraction for the mind.
Each biker is welcomed with a huge spray of water, the laughter and the jokes makes us forget the difficulty of the journey. The butterflies come out to the feel the water and fly between us, sit on our bikes and let us admire their beautiful colours. With the idea that we are now getting close to the cars, we prepare our backpacks and get again on our bikes for the last part of our journey. Over a wide dirt road, with all the strength we have left, under the burning sun, we conclude the last kilometres. It seems like there is no end to this road. But then we see the green grass of the restaurant where our cars are and where something to eat and cool drinks are waiting for us.
We eat, we drink and discuss all the details of this trip, the difficulty, the heat, the flat tires, the broken chain, the bruises and scrapes, but especially the impressive Maya city.
After a sunny day, the sky now threatens with a big rainstorm. We pack our things and begin the return trip to Cancun.
Looking out the car window our thoughts today …. we have walked among the ruins of the lost city….
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”