Tulum, Mexico


Last updated at 10:55 06 April 2005

The swirling figures, glided gracefully around the tall centre pole. Two men arrayed bright in feathers taking performing a ceremonial tribute to the mythical quetzacotl bird.

The men were attached by ropes that coiled around the pole, and as the men leapt from the top of the pole, their ropes spun them round like giant multi-coloured eagles.

The road to Tulum was hot and dusty, but at the entrance a green plateau opened out, the remains of an ancient stone village stood with the cool blue Caribbean shimmering in the distance.

The ancient Mayan settlement sprawls up to a cliff, which looks down on immaculate golden sand, lapped by white surf and fringed by verdant palms.

The village of hand hewn rock buildings included a mighty central temple-pyramid and a deep dark cenote, a great stone trough carved into the hillside that served as a reservoir or perhaps a grave for sacrificial victims.

Tulum is one of the most spectacular and largely undiscovered corners of a beautiful and charismatic country.

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