Bonampak was part of the tour to Yaxchilan. But my sister didn’t want to write about it. So here I am again. She did definitely want to go there though. Bonampak is more or less the only place where you can find Mayan drawings. It is assumed that most, if not all Mayan cities were actually quite colorfully painted and that the empty stelae one can see in many of the sites aren’t ‘unfinished’ but used to be covered in stucco and painted over. Unfortunately it turns out that this kind of decoration really doesn’t persevere well and rain, wind and tourists have removed most of these decorations today. Therefore it is even more astonishing to see so much paint in one place. The rooms are not just ‘some paint left in the corner’, they’re pretty much completely covered in paintings.
The ruins themselves are not particularly interesting. Apart from the three houses housing the painted rooms, not much remains standing. A nice feature of the ruins is that they, in theory, let you see how the Mayas reused their buildings. Most of the Maya ruins one can see aren’t built in a single go. They start out with a small temple and then, 20 years later, they built a bigger one on top.. and 20 years later.. You get the idea.. So when the archaeologists first arrived, they dug into one of the ruins and found broken statues further down below. They left the hole open and put a net on top of it, so that tourists can have a look and catch a glimpse of the earlier temple under the current temple.. In practice that net is so full of leaves and dirt that nothing can be seen though.
This means however that everyone coming to Bonampak heads straight for the paintings.. But the rooms are small and there’s only ever three people at once allowed inside. Even if there’s only about fifty people, lines form and you will have to wait your turn for each of the three rooms, with guards telling you what you’re not allowed to do. In particular a sign told us: Don’t glasses, don’t selfie and don’t cap… Which apparently is due to the fact that people kept losing their stuff when looking up. It’s good to see that tourists can’t even look at walls without screwing up.
The rooms themselves are awe-inspiring to a varying degree. I definitely had a big favorite in the third and last room which included rulers with some ridicules head-dresses.. I was expecting to see another mention of aliens, because they clearly looked like it. But no reference to extraterrestrials were made probably because Erich von Dänicken hasn’t been here yet.
My least favourite, probably also because it is the room in the worst condition, was the second room showing war prisoners and the ritual execution of a captive enemy ruler.
The final, or rather first, room is also very interesting to see. It is likely the scene of a new heir to the thrown being presented, there’s lots of dancing and music going on and it is an overall joyful scenario, contrary to the other two.
The tour in itself was pretty cool. We were excited for the ruins, but didn’t expect much in terms of included food or accommodation. However I had a really nice fish for lunch and the terrace of our room didn’t leave anything we could’ve possibly complained about. Judge for yourself: