Mexico in November (Update)

El Castillio

El Castillo, Chichen Itza.

mx.gif With Mel Gibson's Apocalypto hitting our cinemas recently, I've uploaded photos from our Yucatan trip. If you plan to visit Chichen Itza, ensure that you stay at Hotel Mayaland, Hotel Hacienda or somewhere at walking distance. This way you can visit the historical site very early in the morning before the coaches arrive from Cancun or Merida.

El Castillo is probably the most famous structure at Chichen Itza. One interesting thing is that the limestone steps have all been tempered. Each were heated all in hot oil and cooled slowly using fruit or vegetable juices. Although not strictly allowed by the park rangers, our guide gently tapped one of the many loose blocks with a key to produce a ceramic ring! The length of heating time affected it's acoustic properties! Blocks heated for longer resonanted at higher frequencies. The blocks used in the construction of El Castillo (Pyramid of Kukulcan) were tempered in this manner. The result is amazing acoustics around the structure. Clapping your hands directly in front of the each of the steps causes a weird reverberation sound to emanate from the temple at the peak of the pyramid.

Face

One of many stone faces at Chichen Itza.

On the way from Chichen Itza to Tulum make sure you check out Corba. The Yucatan peninsula, of course, has it fair share of the Carribean Coast! If you are looking for a secret deserted beach - hire a jeep and take a drive to Punta Allen. It is a small fishing town at the end of 40km spit south of Tulum. The road quickly turns into a sandy track and can be very tricky. Check with the locals before setting off - heavy rain can make the journey very arduous if not impossible. Many locals who need to make this trip frequently usually take a boat.

The track runs through part of the massive Sian Ka'an (Where the sky begins) biosphere. The area was declared a World Heritage site in 1986. To the east is the Carribean Sea and to the west are the mangrove lagoons. I would recommend staying at Boca Paila Camps where there is an incredible view of the lagoon. We took an afternoon kayaking in these mangrove shallows with the team at Boca Paila Camps. Bird spotters bring your binoculars and long lenses. I wish I had my 80-400mm with me in the kayak!

Beach to Punta Allen

Deserted beaches along the road to Punta Allen.

The full photo set can be seen here. The majority of the photos were taken using the Nikon 18-200mm VR2 lens with the D70. This is an excellent general walkaround lens. However, I've lived with this lens now for nearly 12 months and have found severval issues which fall short of expectations. Firstly, there is some very visible chromatic aberration at the edges in some bright conditions. At the wide end there is evidence of some moustache distortion. This can be noticed in wide shots of the horizon. Finally, there is a fair bit of lens creep when pointing the lens up or down. Nevertheless, this lens has a larger range than the 17-80mm kit lens and has VR2 which can be useful when shooting at the long end.

Drop me a comment or question!

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