Monday, December 20, 2010

Trip Report: Mayan Ruins of Tulum

Over Thanksgiving my family did something a little out of the norm (for us) and went on a 7 day Caribbean cruise.  It was a wonderful trip and we got to spend time with lots of my family (10 of us in all).  When our ship docked at Cozumel, Mexico, Christie and I went on a shore excursion over to the mainland to visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum, just south of Playa del Carmen.

Tulum ruins on the Caribbean coast

The ruins were beautiful and interesting.  They are set right on the coast and it's just gorgeous.

Ruins along the Caribbean coastline
Black iguana
The grounds are covered with iguanas.  We probably saw 50 or more in the hour and a half that we were there.  One in particular, really wanted to pose for us.

Iguana posing on some warm rocks
Sea grape tree (Coccoloba uvifera)
In terms of plant life, there were a lot of Sea Grape trees (Coccoloba uvifera) all over the grounds.  Some were full-fledged trees, with regular trunks.  Others were growing more like shrubs or creeping along rock walls, having sprouted from a crack in the cliff face.

Sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) growing on cliff face near beach
Another common plant on the grounds was some species of terrestrial bird's nest Anthuriums. Many of these Anthurium had inflorescences.  I was taking a picture of one inflorescence that had a deformed branching spadix when I noticed that a praying mantis was perched on the spadix!  I wish I hadn't been in such a hurry and I could have gotten a little better picture.  But we were headed back to the bus and I didn't want to get left behind!

Praying mantis on an Anthurium inflorescence
There were a lot of these large leaved Anthuriums with undulate leaves and raised midribs.  The only other type of Anthurium I observed was the smaller specimen below.

Just outside of the entrance to the ruins park was a large bed of Sansevierias.

Christie with Sansevierias

I observed some other neat plants, but didn't know what they were.

Unknown flowering plant, possible Mandevilla

Tradescantia spathacea (thanks to mr_subjunctive) - Dense border plant with neat foliage

The plant above had really neat foliage and was growing all over the place as a border to all of the sidewalks.  The underside of the leaves is purple.

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler among the ruins
I also observed a couple of neat birds.  One was the tiny yellow-breasted bird hopping along a rock wall, pictured above.  The other almost looked like a peacock, with very colorful markings.  I had to take the picture (below) from a distance, so I didn't get as good of a shot as I would have liked.  [2011-01-30 Update:  Tony has informed me that this is likely the Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata).]

Ocellated Turkey
Colorful mystery bird - Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata)
It was a great place to visit and I'm really glad we took this excursion.

Me and Christie at the Tulum Ruins


  1. "Dense border plant with neat foliage" is Tradescantia spathacea. I have no guess on the other one.

  2. Might be a wild turkey. There are a lot in that area.

  3. In reference to your Mystery Bird.
    It's an Ocelated Turkey! A fairly unknown, much more beautiful cousin of the domesticated table bird.
    Here's a link to some more pics of them.
    BTW...found you via the Plants are the Strangest People blog.
    Hope this helps!