I recently had the good fortune to return to the Riviera Maya for some r 'n' r - it had been a decade since my previous (and only) visit to the area, and while I had enjoyed my time then I really regretted not taking the opportunity to visit one of the historically areas of the Mayan ruins, either in Chichen Itza or the more-accessible Tulum. This time, while I would have loved to have travelled into the Yucatan peninsula to visit Chichen Itza, the several hours of travel each way coupled with a 38 degree Friday afternoon were enough to persuade me to Plan B, which was a relatively short bus trip over to the ruins at Tulum. As a brief summary, this particular area has been dated as far back as A.D. 564, although the vast majority of its occupancy was from the 13th through 16th centuries. The location itself, on one of the only elevated bluffs in the region, allowed accessibility both from the land and the sea. It appears to have been vacated sometime in the mid-1500's after the Spaniards conquered the Yucatan region; restoration of the site began back in 1913 and continued through the 1970's by the Carnegie Institution, William Sanders and Arthur Miller, amongst others.
The historical significance of this area to the Mayan people is almost indescribable, and I was in awe of how generations of Mayans had the advanced knowledge to position and build their temples to align with specific seasons and events, such as summer and winter solstices. To some visitors, all they see is the crumbling remains of a civilization long lost to the jungle and European conquer, but to me every stone and piece of mortar spoke of a history that I can only begin to imagine.